The Malta Independent 18 June 2024, Tuesday
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No one ready to commit for Nationalist Party leadership contest

Rachel Attard Sunday, 18 June 2017, 10:15 Last update: about 8 years ago

The four Nationalist Party (PN) contenders that are being mentioned so far to replace outgoing leader Simon Busuttil - Claudio Grech, Roberta Metsola, Chris Said and Adrian Delia – have remained non-committal on running for the post of PN leader when questioned.

The Malta Independent on Sunday carried out an exercise with the four possible candidates that are being named amongst PN supporters and activists. This newsroom asked if they will be contesting to become PN leader. If yes, whom do they see as their deputies and general secretary? If no, whom will you be supporting?


Being the leader of the PN is not a token prize or a target of personal ambition - Grech

For the questions above, Claudio Grech said that, “Over the last days, I was contacted by a significant number of people, all encouraging me to consider the contest. This encouragement came both from within the party structures, from its grassroots, but, even more importantly, from a large number of PN voters and from across civil society.”

Grech, who contested the general election for the second time on the first district, got 2,606 votes in the first count and was elected without a quota with 3,359 votes. In the last legislature, the 42-year-old MP, was first appointed shadow minister for health and later as a shadow spokesperson for the economy. Grech worked at senior levels in the public sector for over 14 years, including that of Head of Secretariat of Minister for Investment, ICT and Infrastructure Austin Gatt.

Being the leader of the PN is not a token prize or a target of personal ambition. Apart from leading the opposition, the PN Leader has the responsibility to enshrine the values of what the party stands for and to translate them into its vision, political content and actions,” he said.

He observed that, “It makes me and those that have the PN really at heart cringe when we witness gangs jockeying to have person A as leader, with pre-designated persons B and C as deputies and D as Secretary General. Those are decisions to be made by the convention, in the case of the deputy leaders, and the executive committee in the case of the secretary general.”

He added that these kind of ‘package deals’ are the guarantee of the perpetuation of internal manoeuvring and king-making, which is certainly not in the interest of the fulfilment of the PN’s mission. 

Grech stressed that one thing that the PN certainly does not need now, is a long-drawn contest of egos, as such ego trips will cause the Party and our country much greater damage than whatever one can imagine.

Turning to the party itself, Grech said that there is, “a lot of nonsense going around of ‘rebuilding the PN’. You rebuild what is demolished and the PN is certainly anything but demolished. These are indeed tough times, but what we should be focusing upon right now is what the PN should stand for, going forward, and what attributes the leadership team should have, to be able to transform it back into the popular party it has always been.”

Grech added that, “Where I fit in all of this is yet to be seen, but in any case, this will not be the reflection of personal ambition, but of what is in the best interest of what the PN stands for.”


Focusing only on who the next leader of the PN will be is missing the wood for the trees - Metsola

MEP Roberta Metsola is another name being mentioned in the PN corridors. If interested and elected, she would be the first female leader of the opposition, and of the party itself.

Metsola, who was asked the same set of questions, does not agree with Claudio Grech’s assessment of the party, stressing that the party indeed needs rebuilding. “I assure you, the party has very capable people determined to serve and re-build it, and I will definitely be there on our journey of renewal.”

Metsola, a 38-year-old MEP, was elected to the European Parliament for the first time in 2013. She had also contested in 2004 and 2009 but did not make it. She is a lawyer and has specialised in European Law and Politics. She served as Malta’s Legal and Judicial Cooperation Attaché within the Permanent Representation of Malta to the European Union from 2004 to 2012. In 2015, when Busuttil reshuffled his shadow cabinet, he appointed Metsola as the shadow minister for foreign and European affairs, something that according to her colleague MEP Therese Comodini Cachia was a bad idea.

Metsola did not want to commit to her interest in the PN leadership contest, saying, “Focusing only on who the next leader of the PN will be is missing the wood for the trees. This is the moment for the PN to reflect on where it stands as a political movement, on what we stand for, where we want Malta to go and on how we plan to take it there.”

She explained that, “Leadership contests are great at papering over cracks, but Malta's issues are not going to be solved by a simple face-change at the top of the PN. We’ll keep ourselves occupied but we’ll be no closer to Malta having the government it needs and the Maltese the leadership we all desperately need. What we do not need are politicians' egos.” 

Metsola observed that politics is based on integrity, and on an economic model of principle-based judgement, and it is the only way for our nation to thrive in this global marketplace. She added that we can make Malta a 'shining city on a hill', but not without a colossal overhaul of our critical institutions first.


The general election result has given me a direct motivation to reconnect the party with the people - Said

The third PN politician that this newsroom contacted was the 47-year-old Gozitan lawyer Chris Said. Said was similarly not forthcoming in his replies on whether he will be contesting the leadership race.

Said told this newsroom that, “The general election result has increased my determination to help the PN get back on its feet. Change is an important part of gaining the electorate’s trust.”

If Said decides to contest and wins the contest, he would be the first Gozitan PN leader and leader of the opposition. In the general election he contested on the 13th district and was elected on the first count obtaining 4,642. After the PN lost the 2013 election, Said was elected as PN secretary general, but after two years he stepped down to focus on Gozo. Said, who was elected for the first time in 2008, was appointed Parliamentary Secretary for Public Dialogue, and then two years later became Parliamentary Secretary for Consumers Affairs and Local Councils. In 2012 he was appointed as Minister for Justice, Dialogue and Family.

He said that, “The general election result has, like many others, given me a direct motivation to reconnect the party with the people. At this moment in time, what is required of us actively involved in the PN is to listen. I am therefore listening to what is being said by those who voted for us, but also by those who did not.

“Decisions are best taken after reflecting on the tasks ahead, and understanding what is required of you. I remain committed to employ my experience, skills and vision for the common good of Malta and PN.”

Adrian Delia – the potential outsider

Amongst those mentioned by activists for the role of PN leader is lawyer Adrian Delia, who appears to be the only outsider to possibly be in the running so far. He has worked closely with the PN behind the scenes, starting in the media ranks when Radio 101 was launched.

Delia is a private citizen who is not involved in political structures but he is still being touted as a possible contender for the leadership post. 

Delia told this newsroom that he has over recent days been approached by a wide variety of people from different political and non-political sectors to consider running for the post of PN leader.

“At this point I am still honestly trying to comprehend the vastness and consequence of this preposition, which carries immense responsibilities.”

He acknowledges that he has in the past been approached to consider contesting the general elections but, he says, “I always considered myself as too young or still far from passing over to the political divide.

“This [prospect of a leadership bid] is by far an even more drastic change of life we're talking about here, so deep introspection and soul searching is necessary before one passes to then discussing matters sincerely.  There would be consequences upon my young family, friends and letting go of a professional career...all of which I love dearly.”


Beppe Fenech Adami not interested

After the PN lost this election, and the leadership, together with its administration, announced they will not be seeking re election, there were rumours that MP Beppe Fenech Adami is interested in contesting for PN leader. Tomorrow’s issue of The Malta Independent will be publishing a full interview with Fenech Adami, in which he explains why he is not interested in any PN post and the reasons behind the big PN landslide.

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