The Malta Independent 10 April 2020, Friday

TMIS Editorial - PN crisis: No, the subject has not been ‘exhausted’

Sunday, 23 February 2020, 12:00 Last update: about 3 months ago

The subject of the PN’s in-fighting and leadership crisis has been ‘exhausted’, a spokesman for Opposition Leader Adrian Delia told this newsroom this week, when declining an invitation for an interview on our weekly online discussion programme, Indepth.

We have already explained what happened: how Delia first agreed to an interview and then changed his mind, and we will not go into the issue again. Instead we will focus on this particular phrase – ‘exhausted’.

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To say that the issue has been ‘exhausted’, as if everything is now alright, is a tad delusional.

Yes, from the outside it seems as if the latest internal struggle that threatened to tear the PN apart has cooled down, but the crisis will undoubtedly rear its head again in the coming weeks, months and years.

While there was talk – up until a couple of weeks ago – of Nationalist MPs plotting to visit the President to ask him to revoke Delia’s title of ‘Opposition Leader’, things seem to have quieted down, for now.

But it will only take another damning survey for a new storm to brew – another poor showing for the PN and its leader – and half the MPs will be up in arms again, demanding Delia’s head on a silver platter.

And let’s face it, it is highly unlikely that the PN will do any better in future surveys – it has not gained any ground after the November/December political crisis that saw Joseph Muscat quit in shame. On the contrary, the appointment of a new Prime Minister has only seen Delia’s popularity sink even lower.

The Panama Papers, the VGH deal, the leaked FIAU reports and countless other scandals have not helped the PN in any way – nor did even the murder of a journalist. So what could possibly happen in the next two years that will lift the PN’s image and help it turn itself into a credible alternative government?

Even if a new scandal shifts the balance by a little bit, the PN will still not have a chance in hell of winning the general election. And what happens then? Adrian Delia will take the blame and many of his MPs will again call for his resignation.

So, in truth, Delia will always be fighting an uphill battle, and calls for his resignation will keep recurring.

The Nationalist Party is currently undergoing a reform. We have been told that it wants to reinvent itself from the ground up, and that young people will be part of this change. But where are these young people exactly?

Over the past few days we have seen Party veterans of a certain age filling posts vacated after the latest round of resignations. Francis Zammit Dimech, Louis Galea and Censu Galea currently hold important positions in the Party. They are loyal men on whom the PN could always count in times of crisis, but these individuals alone will not be enough to make the Party a younger one. Delia has said, Sunday in, Sunday out, that the PN will soon be “140 years young”, but is this really the case?

Are young people really engaging in the Party reform? Is this even possible when the PN, for the first time ever, has two youth arms: one calling for Delia’s resignation and the other backing him unconditionally.

How can the Party say that it is attracting thousands of new supporters when only a handful show up to listen to the PN leader on Sundays? Is this not delusion?

So no, the subject of the PN crisis has not been ‘exhausted’ – in fact, the debate has not even started yet.

For the Party to be able to reinvent itself and move forward, the clique mentality has to be eradicated, completely. There cannot be pro-Delia and anti-Delia MPs. There cannot be pro-Delia and anti-Delia youth wings. The Party leadership cannot be open only to people who are backers of Delia. There must be a true attempt at reconciliation. But there must also be a leader who realises when the situation is beyond desperate.

We have said it several times and we will say it again. Just because the Party leader has the backing of the majority of tesserati does not mean that he has a chance of winning an election. A far greater number of people will be voting in 2022, and only a small fraction of them will be tesserati.

While the party cannot ignore the will of its paid-up members, it must realise that it is striving to be a government for all the people.

If it truly believes that this ‘corrupt’ government must be removed, it must stick its head out of the sand and see the bigger picture.

 

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