The Malta Independent 13 December 2017, Wednesday

PN should speak consistently and not conveniently - Toni Bezzina

Rebecca Iversen Sunday, 5 November 2017, 11:00 Last update: about 2 months ago

Toni Bezzina, candidate for the post of Nationalist Party deputy leader for Party Affairs, shares his thoughts about the party maintaining consistency and the need for it to come down off its high horse in order to tackle the issues that are really relevant. He spoke to Rebecca Iversen about the key qualities he believes are required for the position of Deputy Leader for Party Affairs and why he believes PN councillors and members should vote for him.

What do you believe are the three most important qualities the Deputy Leader of Party Affairs should have?

I believe that I must state my qualities, as it is those that I am confident will enable me to take on this role. I want to be a bridge-builder, a time-keeper and an active listener.

The Party has the structures in place, but they need to be set into motion and motivated to reach out to the society we want to convince that we are able to represent. My colleagues, with their specific portfolios, together with the representative branches of the party, are all aimed at bridging the sectors that they represent. They need to actively collaborate in a two-way flow of communication and collaboration. This way, the PN will win the respect of the widest form of interests and, if not always agreeing on the content, at least being open to fully explore all angles of a situation.

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I like to get things done – it’s how I am organised: reaching out to the right people to fill the right role. I have never been presumptuous: I know my strengths and I recognise my weaknesses. The Nationalist Party cannot be a one-man-band; it needs to engage the best people in the specific areas where they are needed, both in drawing up its policies and in implementing them.

I believe that the person in the role should have the ability to not only listen, but to also take heed and put forward the proposals of civil society (NGOs, unions, associations and intellectuals) in the formation of the principal Party proposals that will eventually make up the election programme. 

 

Why do you want the PN councils and members to vote for you?

I have come to this position after advancing within the Party for the past 10 years. I have been a sectional committee member, a district representative and a member of the executive until I advanced further to be a general election candidate and, consequently, a Member of Parliament. The deputy leader of the party needs to fit into all these shoes. I can walk the walk and talk the talk because I have been down that path.

I also consider myself organised: I have records of all home visits and constituent meetings that I have carried out during my active political life – I can base my decisions on facts. People will also note that, after being elected to Parliament for the first time in 2013, at my first attempt, I was also successful in bringing positive change to the Party’s turnout in the last election. Where the result was negative in all electoral districts, in my district (the 5th), the PN registered the only vote percentage increase and also the return of the seat that was lost in 2013. This was possible down to the teamwork we mastered around the group of candidates, local committees and activists. I want to repeat this success, come the next election, as early as the first test at the MEPs.

What is your vision for the party and what will the party’s ‘new way’ look like?

The Nationalist Party has always represented the ‘right way’ and the ‘new way’. Historically, it has taken the right decisions and established a modern and new national for the benefit of everyone. I want to keep that. I believe that we are in this mission to serve, and as long as we ensure that we can still answer that question honestly, then we are on the right track.  My vision is to ensure that the Party is in a position to represent the needs and wishes of a diverse society that wants to move forward. My vision is to make the PN the natural home of diversity, dialogue and compromise that ensures no citizen is left behind and that justice prevails. 

Will you help lead the party in a conservative direction or a more liberal one?

Political ideologies have long been discarded. The times in which we live call for politics of conviction and not dogmas. We need to nurture dialogue, educate thought and convince with reasoning. We need to actively promote consensus, but draw the line when it comes to populist cries and short term visions. What I intend to do, with the leadership that will hopefully soon be in place, is lead the Party forward.

What do you believe the PN should do to become re-electable again?

We need to get our house in order, recognise our individual failings, come down off our high horses and start tackling the issues that matter and that are now affecting the day-to-day activities and lifestyles of the people. We need to talk tough when it matters and do it consistently and not conveniently. We need to inspire if we are to aspire to be the natural choice of our electorate. 

If you are not elected as deputy leader, where do you see yourself working in the party? Would you resign?

I am first and foremost an elected representative of the 5th District and I have an obligation, bound by my oath, to serve the Republic and the people who elected me. I stand by that and I shall fulfil that responsibility, which gives me great pride. I also recognise that, were I not on the PN ticket, I would not have had the privilege of being elected. I therefore have an obligation to serve my party with loyalty as long as I feel that it represents what I started out to achieve and that it also represents the aspirations of those who elected me as an MP. I will serve as I am required to serve, of that I am certain, and all my colleagues know that.

 

How is the party going to reconcile its financial problems?

Over the past few years a plan has been set in motion. I have been kept up to speed with its implementation and I want to ensure it is seen through. I am also proposing the strengthening of the Treasurer’s office to ensure that, and to ensure we keep up the good work done by Alex Perici Calascione and Anne Fenech in this regard. I want to thank them and all those who contributed to this plan. There were those who were keen to highlight the problem, but few to point out the work that was done to get the plan on track.

 

Did you agree with Simon Busuttil’s coalition with Partit Demokratiku?

We all did at the time.  

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