The Malta Independent 4 December 2020, Friday

TMID Editorial: Nationalist Party – Leadership election taking too long

Tuesday, 1 September 2020, 08:09 Last update: about 4 months ago

Two months after Adrian Delia was given a vote of no confidence by the parliamentary group, the Nationalist Party still does not have a date as to when an election for the leadership will take place.

The process of holding an election for the leadership has been dragging on through the whole summer. At first we had been told that the PN would like to have a new leader in place before the Independence celebrations, but it is now almost certain that this deadline will not be met.


It is possible, or probable, that the day a leader will be announced – it’s either a confirmation of Delia or a new leadership under Bernard Grech – will now be in October.

In the meantime, while the Opposition is embroiled in an internal race and concentrated mostly on bickering between the two factions, the government is ploughing on unchecked.

Apart from the PN leadership race, this summer is also busy because of other situations that concern mostly the government. But because the PN is in so much disarray, the government is getting away scot-free simply because the PN, as an opposition, is practically non-existent.

The government, in particular Robert Abela and Julia Farrugia Portelli, messed up in their hasty decisions regarding Covid-19, with the result that Malta moved from being close to zero cases to having nearly 700 within three or four weeks. But the PN was not there to point this out.

The situation with regard to migration has also seen the government take shaky stands in the wake of dangerous developments that could cost people their life, and yet the PN was conspicuously absent.

Worse than this, the details that have emerged in court in proceedings related to the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia should have been a field-day for a party in opposition. But, here again, the PN was not in a position to take any advantage.

Just a few months ago, the Labour Party underwent a process to elect a new leader after the resignation of Joseph Muscat. Muscat announced he was stepping down in early December and Robert Abela was elected in mid-January, a total of six weeks which would have probably been shorter if Christmas and New Year were not in the way.

The PN looks likely to take at least double that via a process which is too pedantic and time-consuming. For one thing, the due diligence exercise established by the PN statute can take up to six weeks, the same amount of time Labour took in between a resignation and a new leadership. Technically, the PN so far still does not know who the candidates will be, and strictly speaking both Delia and Grech have only submitted an expression of interest which will be converted into an official candidature only after the due diligence exercise is completed. After this, the real campaign will start although, to be fair, both candidates are already in full swing.

Too much time has already been wasted by the PN. Once this is over, and whoever wins, it should start focusing on its real duties. It should also reconsider its leadership election process to make it simpler and less laborious.

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