The Malta Independent 8 August 2020, Saturday

TMID Editorial: Nationalist Party – More than meets the eye

Wednesday, 29 July 2020, 09:04 Last update: about 10 days ago

The Nationalist Party is heading towards a crucial weekend, one that will change the course of its history whatever the outcome.

On Saturday, party councillors will be asked to determine whether a general convention will be called to confirm or reject Adrian Delia as party leader, or else go straight into an election for a leader.

It will be an important decision for a party that has desperately struggled to make any impact ever since it lost the 2013 election, and compounded it with an even heavier defeat in 2017, apart from several other setbacks in local council and European Parliament elections.

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Over the past three years, the party’s situation has progressively worsened, with Delia having to continuously contend with internal dissent which culminated in the past month or so with two votes against him in the parliamentary group first and later in the party’s executive committee.

When one speaks of division in the PN the impression that is given is that the party is divided into two factions. This is particularly apparent when there is a reference to the so-called rebels – those 19 who voted against Delia in the parliamentary group, who have the majority of the executive committee backing them.

But there is more to it than meets the eye. This is because if one looks closely at the developments that are taking place, it is clear that the two factions are not clearly defined, and that a third offshoot exists, one that is playing its own part in the internal machinations within the PN.

We all know about the group supporting Delia and the one that is against his leadership, which is often labelled as the establishment. But there is then another set of individuals who are heavily involved in the proceedings in their own way and are still awaiting developments while gauging every move.

They do not support Delia, but neither do they back the establishment. As an Italian saying goes, where two are fighting, it is the third that (often) wins.

We will know more after Saturday, when a decision will be made on the next step. It should not come as a surprise, however, if a potential leadership election is contested by more than two candidates. We already know that Delia said he will contest an election for the leadership if there’s one. Therese Comodini Cachia, pushed by the anti-Delia faction as their preferred choice of Opposition Leader, cannot take a step back if this leadership election does take place. But then there could be others who join the race.

Saturday’s result will not be the end of the tortuous journey that the party has undertaken. It will be just one other step the party has to take in an attempt to iron out the differences. Yet it is hard to imagine that the PN mosaic will not have any scars after all that has taken place and will take place in the next few weeks.

The PN has always boasted of being a party that embraces different ideas, but completely healing the wounds of the last three years will be a near insurmountable task.

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