The Malta Independent 20 October 2020, Tuesday

Opinion: We have to do it, and we have to do it now

Saturday, 1 August 2020, 07:16 Last update: about 4 months ago

Karl Gouder and Kevin Cutajar

We, Partit Nazzjonalista General Councillors, have a stark choice today that will define the party for years to come: will we choose the status quo, or will we muster the courage to opportunity to change; to offer ourselves a real choice in a leadership race amongst a truly talented line-up.

Today we have to choose between more of the same, or reinventing ourselves into a party for tomorrow, for the many who yearn to return to their natural home, by choosing a leader whom they can trust and who can capture their imagination.

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The past few years have seen a Labour Party transform our islands into a hotbed of bribery and crime in the very institutions of the State that are supposed to fight it. The excesses of the past few years have eroded the very base of our state institutions and our society.

In this scenario one would have expected the leadership of Partit Nazzjonalista to offer an alternative. To inspire people to stop the rot in this country; to win back the hearts and minds of people. It did not. It pains us to say it. When we should have been sprinting ahead in the polls, we were sliding further and further into irrelevance. When we needed a leader who’s more trusted than the party, we found the party more trusted than its leader.

Most didn’t even bother attending our events any longer. Our voice became a distant sound. Instead of working as one with civil society, as we did in 2016 when the Panama Papers exploded onto our political scene, our leadership is now frowned upon.

We will never forget the echoes of our footsteps at the ‘Stamperija’ the day Joseph Muscat announced his long drawn out resignation, three years late. Our Headquarters, which stood tall for decades, were empty. The place should have been teeming with our leaders and our supporters round the clock capturing the moment and working to place the PN at the forefront with renewed energy and vision. Yet, there it stood, empty, a shadow of its former self.

This is why we decided that we needed to act. That we owe it to our supporters, to all Maltese and Gozitans, to the future of this country. The signs were loud and clear. The polls sent chills down our spines. Waiting for the next election was simply not an option. We had to act now before we allowed for an even greater majority for a deeply corrupt government. We needed to find our voice and find it fast. We needed to remind ourselves of the why we serve our country and the why we choose to be part of the PN. We needed to present to our supporters and to the country a leader they can believe and trust.

Thousands who are now, at best, lukewarm to the PN, want to see it again as their home. It is where they belong and the party they identify with. They see it as the party that has offered the best answers for Malta’s big questions: real democracy, openness, being true Europeans. It believes in the strength of the Maltese to make it against all adversity. It has worked tirelessly to open up our educational system, to invest in a better health service, offering a future for all, allowing everyone to dream big and to make it on their own steam. This is why we are in the PN. This is why thousands want yearn for a different PN.

This is why we chose to take a stand and this is why we are asking you to take a stand. Just like our predecessors took a stand when the PN was discouraged in the past, before it went on to great achievements for party and country, we are asking you to do the same today. The challenges we face today are as fundamental as ever.

This is a crucial vote in the history of our party. One which will define us as a party but also as a nation state. More importantly, it is a vote that will define us as individuals. What will our image staring back at us in the mirror tell us years from now? That we did the right thing for party and country? Or that we shied away, sticking to what we knew?

Hand on heart, are we ready to ignore the increasingly cataclysmic defeats that we have suffered over the past few years? Are we comfortable with the idea that our vote can hand a rotting government a two thirds majority or thereabouts?

Or can we dig deep and find the courage to take the party into a new direction? To have a leadership election choosing a leader who can capture the nation’s imagination and lead us with more energy than ever before? A vision that will bring back our youth to the halls of the Stamperija, our civil society to discuss a bright and clean future for Malta, and our supporters to once again feel proud to flourish our flag.

The decision is yours. This is why you love the party. This is why we love the party. This is why we want to give it a healthy debate, a real choice among so much talent we have and that is willing to roll up its sleeves and give party and country a real choice come election time.

We have to do it, and we have to do it now.

This opinion piece was written on behalf of the majority of the members of the PN Parliamentary group.

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