The Malta Independent 27 July 2017, Thursday

PN leadership: Chris Said submits nomination, plans to fight power of incumbency

Kevin Schembri Orland Monday, 17 July 2017, 10:11 Last update: about 9 days ago

Former minister Chris Said today submitted his nomination to run for the Nationalist Party leadership, and said that he has a strategy to fight against the power of incumbency.

Simon Busuttil resigned the post in the wake of the election defeat on 3 June.

He said that the Labour Party, before the election abused their power of incumbancy, and explained that in the coming weeks leading up to the PN Leadership election, he will unveil his plan.

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"This government gave thousands of promotions, jobs, pay rises etc in run-up to election. I will ensure that this system be fought against from day 1, after I become leader, and I have a clear plan on how to tackle this."

Turning to the PN's Gozo loss last election, Said explained that it was dis-satisfactory, as was the PN's national result, however stressed that the PL's power of incumbency played a major role. "We wanted to do much better, however there were particular circumstances in Gozo. If in Malta there was the issue of government's power of incumbency, in Gozo it was used in the most discriminatory, rough and illegal way. More than 1,000 people employed with government before the elections, promotions, transfers and a thousand other things. That worked to change the result. Polls we had three months before the election showed the PN recuperating in Gozo and doing better. This was lost when the power of incumbency was illegally, and abusively used in the weeks and months running up to the election. This does not make me want to give up."

Outlining his programme in a press conference in Safi, Said said he aims to meet party activists in different localities each week in a bid to be closer to the grassroots.

He spoke about strengthening the concept of having street leaders working for the party and also improving the way sectional committees work.

"I want PN local clubs to again become a place where politics is discussed.  I have no doubt this can occur." He said that PN clubs could also be used as social clubs.

He mentioned that Safi represents an area where the PN has lost support. "There was a reason for this, however the PN failed to investigate in order to uncover this reason. This is why, if elected leader, I will commission a study to analyse the changes in society, the demographical changes, the social trends etc."

Said argued that up until recently, the PN was a protagonist for social change, "but this changed and we want to become a protagonist again."

He said that having been involved in politics for so many years gives him an edge because he has been held various positions, including that of a mayor, minister, secretary general and shadow minister.

Said explained that he is going into this election as he believes his political experience makes him capable to strengthen the PN, and turn it into the majority party. He spoke of his past experience as a local councillor, and also being in charge of the party strategy regarding the 2015 local council elections. "We had reached our aims," he said.

He also mentioned that Safi is a stone's throw away from an industrial zone. "I want the PN to again be the party which has workers at its heart." Said explained that the PN needs a plan to be steps ahead of society. Turning to the liberal and conservative divide, he said as leader he would try and bring convergence and where this is not possible, allow space for different ideas to flourish. He did say, however, that everyone working within the PN must reaffirm the basic principles of the party, such as an individual's dignity, and a person's fundamental human rights.

"I will appoint delegates to serve as a point of contact between the party and these workers," he said.

 "I have been involved in politics for many years, and have experience in councils, in government, in parliament, I have touched every section.  Those choosing the next PN leader know what I have done in politics.  In front of a strong PL, that will have a leadership made up of fighters, such as with Chris Fearne who was just elected PL Deputy Leader,  The PN deserves a leader with experience, a doer with a vision."

He mentioned that he will be ready to work with anyone, and thus has not select a team he would have by his side should he win. He explained that his team would be chosen by the PN members.

He spoke of the importance of working within the localities

Asked about the PN - PD coalition, he said that he understands why the coalition occurred, and that the PD forms part of the Opposition Parliamentary group. Said explained that if elected PN leader he will want to work in collaboration with the PD representatives, however hopes that in the next election the PN would be strong enough to go into the election on its own.

Asked whether he agrees with Simon Busuttil's recent decision to ask for another magisterial inquiry regarding the Panama Papers, Said said "What was illegal was not made legal thanks to the elections. I assure you that the fight against what is illegal, against corruption, will not stop with me as leader, but rather we will double our efforts.  So yes, while Simon Busuttil is Leader and if he feels actions are needed, he should take them."

Asked whether Franco Debono is a closed case, he stressed that it is not ethical to discuss individual cases publicly. Speaking generally however, he said that "like him there are people who crossed the party lines to the other side.  My doors will be open to all genuine people, of good will, ready to put party and country interests before their own, ready to work as a team and obey party directions. Whoever ticks those boxes will find party doors open."

 

 


 

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