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frank_psaila
Frank Psaila

A leadership contest is a serious thing

Leadership contests are not popularity contests. Substance, vision, values are what PN activists should be after when choosing their next leader

frank_psaila
Frank Psaila
2 August 2017, 7:30am
Busuttil’s decision to step down was a sensible one – the election result left him with no option but to, and he’s not the type to remain in power at all costs
Busuttil’s decision to step down was a sensible one – the election result left him with no option but to, and he’s not the type to remain in power at all costs
A leadership contest is a serious thing

Election aftermaths require the dust to settle before action can resume, especially if the party suffers a second defeat in a row. However, it would have been better had the Nationalist Party, in parallel to the leadership election contest, launched a listening exercise to hear peoples’ grievances, suggestions and ideas. Instead, people have taken to Facebook and online chat groups to praise their preferred leadership contestant, and lash out at the other contenders giving the impression that the Nationalist Party is in disarray and that there is nobody to call home. Facebook echo chambers give a false sense of reality. The current PN leadership is still in time to take action and give its people a platform to voice their ideas for the future of a party which is flat on its back.

Not just a party leader

The Nationalist Party leadership contestants need to explain their vision for their party and country. Whilst talk about reforms of party structures and its media are necessary, however those voting for the next PN leader also happen to be citizens living in Malta, working, raising a family and paying their taxes. They want to know what the next PN leader, who will also be Leader of the Opposition and a Prime Minister in waiting stands for. Leadership contests are not popularity contests. Substance, vision, values is what PN activists should be after when choosing their next leader.

Unique selling points’

The four PN leadership contestants are trying to make a persuasive bid for their own claims. Adrian Delia says that as an outsider, new to politics he is best placed to effect changes; Chris Said argues that he has the political experience to lead the PN at this most difficult of times; Alex Perici Calascione’s maintains that unity is needed at a time when the party risks fragmentation after a heavy defeat at the polls; Frank Portelli wants to give a voice to the 135,000 people who voted PN at the last election and promises to make the PN electable again.

Busuttil’s legacy

Simon Busuttil has made it clear, time and again, that he shall not seek another term as PN leader. Busuttil’s decision to step down was a sensible one – the election result left him with no option but to, and he’s not the type to remain in power at all cost. However, talk that Busuttil shall leave no legacy behind him is nonsense. He had the political courage to stand up for what is right. That is not always – if ever, popular. If the next PN leader thinks that integrity in politics is not to be sought then the Nationalist Party is in for trouble. People will eventually grow fed up of Labour and its antics, and when that happens they will turn to the PN as an alternative. Should the Nationalist Party become a carbon copy of the Labour Party, then in five or ten years time people will have no choice but to retain the ‘devil’ they know.

Take the lead

The Nationalist Party’s foundations are built on remarkable achievements for this country and its people: democracy, pluralism, the rule of law, freedom. What the Nationalist Party and its next leader should do is to build on those foundations whilst ensuring that the PN understands the changes that are happening in society and builds its policies on peoples’ needs and aspirations. The Nationalist Party needs to take the lead again.

Edwin Vassallo

One of the first decisions to be taken by the new PN leader is whether to take action against Nationalist MP Edwin Vassallo who, a few weeks ago, voted against the party whip. The current leadership seems to have postponed the decision to their successors – which is a sensible thing to do. It would be a disaster had the PN decide to castigate Vassallo. People like Edwin Vassallo need to feel at home again within the PN, not because the PN should take a ‘conservative’, whatever that means, turn but because the party should be representative of all shades and colours reflected in Maltese society.

Free votes

All leadership contestants have not ruled out a ‘free vote’ on moral and ethical issues. But ‘free votes’ are not stand alone measures. What the PN desperately needs is healthy debate within its structures and fora on these matters. It’s beyond me how faced with such matters, the Nationalist Party has, time and again, failed to take the lead. This must change if the Nationalist Party wants to remain relevant.

Frank Psaila presents Iswed Fuq Abjad on Net TV

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Frank Psaila, a lawyer by profession, anchors Iswed fuq l-Abjad on Net TV. He was formerly...
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