The Malta Independent 4 August 2020, Tuesday

Malta needs credible Opposition with new PN leader – Louis Galea

Wednesday, 15 July 2020, 07:52 Last update: about 20 days ago

The Nationalist Party needs a credible Opposition with a new leader, Louis Galea, a former PN general secretary and minister, who was entrusted by Opposition leader Adrian Delia to work on a reform on the party statute, said this morning.

Galea's statement comes hours after Delia again refused to resign after a second vote of no confidence, this time by the PN executive committee, one week after the parliamentary group had also voted to oust him.

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Galea had been assigned by Delia to work on a reform on the party statute, a reform that was approved two weeks ago. His declaration this morning adds more pressure on the embattled PN leader.

In his statement, Galea refers to the assignment given to him by Delia, saying that in the past year he worked with all levels of the party in a bid to renew the "beautiful values" and see to the "potential" the party had to generate wealth and to serve the people.

Galea said he always sustained that the statute recently approved was to be the foundation for the party's future. "I fear that unless there is a new leadership that is capable of united the rainbow of opinions that the PN always embraces, and which inspires confidence in the people and work to fulfil its aspirations, the foundation will not be translated into reaching the goal and potential it is earmarked for".

The decision taken by the parliamentary group and the executive committee - a vote of no confidence in Delia - clearly show the urgency that the PN initiates a process to lead to the election of a new leader. "It is absolutely wrong that Delia demeans these two bodies and say that their clear majority (against him) is of no consequence".

The vote of MPs, elected by thousands of citizens, and the executive committee, elected by the party structures, are not a vote against the interests of the party but a free and democratic expression on what is the best way forward. "I do not know of any democratic country in which a leader who lost the confidence of his MPs and the party national executive which does not lead him to choose the obvious and honourable way to start a process for a change of leadership. Neither do I know of a serious party in a democratic country that in three years lost support and the people's confidence in such a huge and consistent way, as is happening to the PN, and the party remains static and not take the necessary steps to remedy the situation," Galea said.

This is happening at a time when many Maltese and Gozityans are prepared to move towards the PN because the Labour Party has been taken over by a web of corruption and abuse in its highest officials. Three years ago, PN members chose Delia on his promise of a new way and a promise that he would win back the people's confidence. After three years, the members have not only not seen this take place, but saw the party losing even more support and confidence. The controversy that dominated Delia's leadership is publicly documented in the media, Galea said.

Like everyone else, Delia has his merits, but it is a fact that these are not enough to overcome the other factors that are hindering the party from achieving the necessary credibility. The parliamentary group and executive committee have seen this and have taken the necessary steps. It should be clear to Delia that, if he really has the best interests of the party and country, he should unblock the road that leads to a new leader. The new statute confirms that the final selection must be made by the members (tesserati). But the statute also speaks of a serious balance as to how every level of the party, from the tesserati to the leader, are part of the party organisation built on representative democracy.

While the tesserati vote for the leader, the leader is accountable to the party organs - sectional committees, parliamentary group, administrative council, the executive committee and the general council. The duties of the members in the election of the leader are not superior to the duties and functions of these bodies, Galea said. It occurs to no-one to say that if a government loses a vote of confidence in parliament, it can say that the vote is of no consequence because the people, and not the MPs, voted to elect it. When a person signs up to become a PN member, he or she embraces the prinsiples, the statute and the party discipline (Article 4) and binds himself or herself to work according to the party direction and discipline. The party affords this function to the executive committee and general council, not the members, Galea said.

Article 44 of the statute lays down that it is the executive committee, not the members, which "plans and decides the party policies and directives necessary for its leadership". Article 45, Galea added, says that "the executive committee has to a) decide on the policies... of the party, subject to the direction of the general council; b) take decisions on the leadership and coordinated direction of the party; c) together with the MPs and MEPs and local councillors work to implement the principles and policies of the party..."

So how can anyone say that a vote taken by the party executive and MPs does not mean anything? Galea said Delia is duty bound to stop abusing from the loyalty of the members and is obliged to lead them according to the direction of the executive committe. Paid-up members are to be respected, he said.

"I therefore join (former leader) Lawrence Gonzi and others and support any proposal that resolves the party crisis by having a fair and just election of a leader," Galea said.

Galea's statement can be found in full here.

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