The Malta Independent 4 August 2020, Tuesday

A party in travail

Noel Grima Sunday, 9 February 2020, 08:39 Last update: about 7 months ago

Each political party comes with its own particular history, background and DNA. I cannot remember the Labour Party going through the same traumatic days as the Nationalist Party went through last week, even though it has had its fair share of drama and traumas.

But it is only insiders who get the real picture and I am not an insider. We can only speak from the outside and though that point of view has some validity, it cannot expect to possess the whole truth.

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Who should decide policy in a party or decide who should be leader? The current struggle seems to be between the parliamentary group, which has a certain constitutional power in that the President of the Republic has to choose that person who commands majority support within the parliamentary group as Leader of the Opposition and the delegates who the recent change gave them the right to choose the party leader and who chose Adrian Delia.

There is then a third component which has not been mentioned much – the electorate at large. And in fact what caused the latest upheaval was the latest MaltaToday survey which in a month which saw the enforced resignation of the prime minister, the winner of two consecutive general elections and of 10 elections in all, also saw Adrian Delia plummet to the negative level of 13.5%.

There was far more in the survey, all of which were negative on Delia. His popularity decreased when it should have risen, he is less popular than his own party and now swathes of PN supporters are moving towards a more centrist Labour with a brand new leader whose first actions brought about some needed changes.

So the parliamentary group was up in arms and heavily critical of Delia while the party delegates who had chosen him refused to play ball. You have to read the vituperation and the viciousness that were exchanged on the social media to see the extent of the damage.

And then Delia simply, inexplicably and illogically refused to go. Even if he were not so damaged goods and if his own inconsistencies had not brought him to his present predicament, any party leader with a civil war around him is duty bound to try and mediate. Instead, Delia just holds on to his post and dared his opponents to drag him feet first from the throne.

The last one to try this was Giorgio Borg Olivier and his resistance did not last long. His canny opponents soon came up with a ruse that sidestepped him – they chose a Kap Successur.

The damage that caused took years to heal and maybe some people still carry scars from that time.

At the same time the party is heavily in debt, the people in its employment can’t plan ahead and an election looms with all signs of a heavy trouncing once again.

A real leader would care more for the party than for his own position of power. Leaders come and leaders go but the party outlives them all.

Do not be taken in by the current craze of non-parties, parties are more resilient than that. The Nationalist Party itself has passed through some bad patches in its past. Once Delia‘s electors realise his motivation is purely personal they should be looking elsewhere.

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