The Malta Independent 24 September 2020, Thursday

TMID Editorial: Nationalist Party – Sorting out a conflict

Wednesday, 16 September 2020, 11:19 Last update: about 8 days ago

It was not a surprise that both Adrian Delia and Bernard Grech got the green light to contest for the Nationalist Party leadership.

One of them will now be declared leader on 3 October. Whether it will be a continuation of Delia or an attempt to reboot with Grech is for the party members to decide.

The two contenders have some things in common. Both come from outside party structures, with Delia pushed to the top from outside the party in 2017, and now facing the challenge of Grech, who is also someone who never formed part of the PN internal mechanisms and seeks to, like Delia did three years ago, start from the top.

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This is yet other proof that in the past years, unlike the Labour Party, the PN has been unable to nurture politicians and allow them to grow and mature with a view of taking over top positions.

Both Delia and Grech also had problems with the taxman, as the Labour Party was quick to say the day after the commission set up to scrutinise their behaviour declared that both were eligible. The commission, the PL said, ignored known facts, so it cannot be believed that it delved deeper into possible issues that are as yet unknown. As such, this was a superficial exercise that cannot be taken seriously, the PL said.

The question is: if the commission felt it should give the thumbs-up to both candidates in spite of what was already publicly known about their past, was there a reason why such an exercise should be carried out in the first place?

There is another thing: The people who have worked to oust Delia, including the majority of members of the parliamentary group, are pushing to bring in someone whose past is also mired in fiscal issues, something that always bothered them with Delia. How ironic is that?

The Nationalist Party has “wasted” another summer to sort out its conflict. It is supposed to serve as an Opposition to monitor the government’s work, but these duties have by and large been pushed aside, giving the government a free ride at a time when its tackling of the Covid-19 situation is going haywire (after a good first three months) and the scandalous revelations that are being made in the courts of law.

Less than two years separate us from the next election. It may seem to be a long time, but the PN must realise that, once the leadership contest is over, it must quickly settle down and enter full general election mode right from the very first day.

As things stand now, the party appears disorganised, lacks motivation and is disunited. Whether the election of the leader – new or old – will bring about the desired change, or lead to more confusion, disharmony and restlessness remains to be seen.

What is sure is that the country needs a solid, credible and effective opposition that keeps tabs on the administration, and offers itself as a valid alternative government. The PN, because of Delia or because of the rebels that made his life so difficult, or both, has been unable to be perceived as such for too long.

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