The Malta Independent 22 November 2017, Wednesday

Nationalist Party needs a complete overhaul - Ivan Bartolo

Rachel Attard Thursday, 14 September 2017, 11:58 Last update: about 3 months ago

Ivan Bartolo tells Rachel Attard that what the Nationalist Party needs at this moment in time is a new leader who is able to carry out a complete overhaul and not just a service, without directly endorsing one of the two candidates in the race. Bartolo, a businessman, was a general election candidate on the ninth district and had previously publicly endorsed Alex Perici Calascione for the party’s leadership.

In the first round of the Nationalist Party’s leadership race Ivan Bartolo he had supported Alex Perici Calascione, when specifically asked who he will be going to support and vote for this Saturday, he did not give a straightforward reply.  

Bartolo, however, stressed that he has a preferred candidate and he has already made his decision as to where his vote will be going. When asked why he does not want to declare who he is supporting, Bartolo replied that he would not endorse anyone publically this time because, as things are, it is not the right thing to do for the party.

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He did say that, “However I do believe that the party has now reached a point where it does not only need a ‘service’ but a rebore, and with these words people can reach their own conclusion as to which candidate I am supporting.”  He said his main interest now is to protect the party and, for him, whoever is elected, whether it’s Delia or Said, “I will be willing to work with him if the new leader wants. I am not with the PN to have a career, been there done that, but I am in politics because for me it is a mission and because I love the party.”

Asked to be more concrete on what he means that the PN needs a complete overhaul, Bartolo said that, “The outcome is to win an election but to produce this outcome the new leader should immediately do these two basic things.

“First, the PN needs to make sure that the business community is on its side and can trust us on two levels: that we are financially strong and that we come up with good proposals.

“In fact in the last general election the party came up with some really good proposals but looked financially weak. Everyone speaks about the party’s debt but we need to speak more about the good assets that the party has. For example I am against continuing to sell the PN’s clubs. I strongly believe that the new leader, and I had spoken to Alex about this, should give priority to these assets and how they are going to generate revenue. I am ready to serve the party and assist on this matter if the new leader wants me to.

The second basic thing that, according to Bartolo, the new elected leader should do it to, “Make sure that all employees at Dar Centrali carry out their duties to the best of their abilities. Employees should be held accountable and yes I say it again, the Labour Party at the moment is much more organised than us and we need to compete with it.”

The PN needs to carry out a rebore, in the way it thinks, in its branding, in what it stands for and also rebuild itself the bottom up, he says.

“I want to see the new PN leader in a bus covered with PN logo going around towns and villages across Malta and Gozo and meeting people every week.

“Such meetings with the people, the one-to-ones was not there in the past. We need to go to people’s homes and not expect them to come to us. We need to give people, especially those that voted for us in the last election, a sense of belonging.”

He insisted that real Nationalists should not reason in a way that if the candidate they chose was not elected they abandon the party. That, he says, is a simplistic, immature approach.

“What really needs to be done is for all Nationalists of goodwill to unite together. Our aim at the moment should not be to win the next election but to be a strong party so that our democracy is protected.”

Asked if he agrees with what the PN administrative did to Adrian Delia, just a few days before the first elections on 2 September, Bartolo said: “No, because the due diligence should have been done earlier by the Electoral Commission.”

He added that the party had made a mistake by going to a leadership election immediately. What should have happened was the appointment of an interim leader, who has no aspiration to contest the post, to oversee the transition and in the meantime the electoral commission could have carried out the necessary due diligence on the candidates that are interested in running for a leader.”

Asked if he believes the allegations that were published on Delia or what Delia said in reply to them, Bartolo said, “I believe that these allegations strength Adrian’s position and my advice is to stop them because we are weakening the party. Till today I did not see any evidence so I believe everyone but trust no one. Those who are saying that Delia can be compared to Minister Konrad Mizzi are wrong because if Adrian had an account in Jersey he opened it when he was not in politics, while Minister Mizzi opened an account when he was a minister. “

Asked if Saturday’s result will be an extension of what happened in the first round, Bartolo said, “My feeling is that the result will be close. What is interesting to see is that people on social media are sending the message that they want change. What can also be said is that the party is not as close to the paid-up members (tesserati) as it is with its councillors so the effect could be different.”

If the new leader wants unity, the first thing he should do is meet with the PN Parliamentary Group and its councillors, he said. “I do not agree with certain Facebook statuses from some MPs, if I was an MP I would have remained silent.  The team that the leader should surround himself with should not be yes men, he needs to have people that fill up his shortcomings and I believe that if the leader wants to be successful he needs to influence whom he wants to have around him.”

Asked if he would accept a position if the new leader would want him as part of his team, Bartolo said, “Yes, I would accept.”

He insisted that the most important thing that makes a good leader is integrity and till this day he still feels that Alex Perici Calascione should have been the next leader of the PN. 

But, he hastens to add, “My wish is to see that the party united again behind whoever is elected as leader.”

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