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Busuttil places ‘people’s party’ at centre of PN leadership bid

Simon Busuttil’s battle cry for the PN leadership contest is ‘a renewed PN, a party for the people’ as he outlines his plan for the party.

miriam
Miriam Dalli
4 April 2013, 12:00am
PN deputy leader Simon Busuttil is contesting PN leadership race.
PN deputy leader Simon Busuttil is contesting PN leadership race.


Simon Busuttil's vision for the Nationalist Party is to renew it and to make it once again "a people's party".

In preparation for the last election, Busuttil had been appointed as Lawrence Gonzi's special envoy in a bid to reconnect with the people and yet, the PN still lost by a staggering 36,000 votes. But for Busuttil, this shouldn't put him off contesting the leadership election.

"Everyone must carry the responsibility for that result and I am ready to do just that. The PN is now in Opposition and I am a member of the Opposition. However, one must also look at the roles which others played," Busuttil said today.

After yesterday submitting his nomination, Busuttil today addressed a press conference in which he outlined his vision for the party.

Busuttil was elected as deputy leader on a platform promising the PN a fighting chance during the 2013 election. But Busuttil believes that this shouldn't automatically disqualify him from the leadership race.

"Should these three months disqualify me from paying service to the PN? I don't agree with this argument, especially when considering this would also mean disqualifying ministers, parliamentary secretaries, parliamentary assistants and almost everyone from contesting," he said.

"It would also be a mistake for the party to elect someone without experience."

So far, the only other two confirmed leadership contenders are former minister Francis Zammit Dimech and businessman Raymond Bugeja.

Busuttil said it hadn't been easy for him to decide whether to contest or not, but felt that he should do so in light of the almost 15,000 votes garnered through the general election and his 75% support received during the deputy leadership election.

But a new PN leader won't only face the challenge of carrying a massive overhaul of the political party but must also face a financial situation which is in dire straits.

Busuttil's plan is to start off with a clear distinction between the PN as a political party and its commercial entities. He therefore wants a group of experts to study the financial situation of the party and of its commercial entities and see how these can be solved.

"Like any other companies, information about the PN's commercial arm is sensitive and I don't think I should discuss financial issues in public," Busuttil said when asked to quantify the seriousness of the party's financial woes.

He also refused to commit himself to whether he would consider curtailing the media expenditure such as TV or the daily newspaper or whether he would sell off loss-making entities.

"I won't take any positions without first consulting with experts," he said. "But my aim is definitely to build and not to struck things off."

Five priorities for a 'people's party'

Simon Busuttil's vision for the party outlines five priorities: knowing where one stands with the PN; renewing and reorganising the party; a party of the people; be a strong and constructive Opposition; and be a party that offers solutions to the country's challenges.

"This historic defeat means that the PN must start from scratch to secure people's trust. And the key is being a party which is closer to the people: a people's party," Busuttil said, insisting that he had the enthusiasm, the dedication and the determination to rebuild the party.

Hoping to see more women in top roles within the party's structures, Busuttil said if elected he would push for a team spirit.

It was also vital, he said, for the PN to retain its core values without however letting them be of obstacle to face an ever-changing society.

"If society is posing certain questions, we must be there to answer them," he said.

As part of his reorganisation plan for the party, Busuttil would introduce "a new generation" within the party's administration while making the best use of former MPs, non-elected candidates and individuals outside the political sphere.

A commission would also be set up to examine the revision of the party's statute and structures.

Busuttil also plans to form "a strong team of candidates" for all elections - MEPs, local councils and general - as early as possible as to make sure to that they are approved and trained with enough time for them to meet the electorate well before the start of a campaign.

The selection of candidates would also be carried out through a commission, set up purposely to attract new candidates.

He also plans to set up a 'College of Candidates' where party candidates remain active and updated with the party's political work while also opening up structures which would allow former MPs to remain active within the party; another proposal is to set up a 'Conciliation Committee' to reconcile the different positions among the party's members.

Another proposal includes the setting up of "a convention" for all registered party members.

As a party in Opposition, Busuttil wants the PN to be "strong and constructive". However, he disagrees with the Prime Minister's proposal to involve PN backbenchers in executive roles.

For the Opposition to be strong and constructive, PN MPs would be supported by "focus groups" whose role would be to help and prepare them for their parliamentary work and mapping out of new policies.

Busuttil also proposes regular "study days" where MPs meet academic experts and professionals to discuss ongoing issues and policies.
miriam
Miriam Dalli joined MaltaToday.com.mt in 2010 and was assistant editor fr...
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Joseph Borg
You were already appointed by Gonzi to act as customer care for PN to be near the people, and, as you said yourself, it was a failure ! Is this another one ? We want you to declare, who will be your advisors. Will Gatt & RCC remain at the back helm ?
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Should have stayed in Brussels. It will be a long time trying to convince the Maltese electorate to trust you again after the mess you have made of this country.
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NIGEL DUNKERLEY
you had over 20 years to do what you "plan" to do. Simon, i personally don't believe half a word you or your pn friends have to say.
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Maybe it was too fortunate that GonziPN failed so PP under SB could be born. Where id the PN? They are learning from JM, its all for the best anyway. So go for it bum bum SB.
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Rachel Roberts
Min qieghed JIKKOPJA il-min????? It was the people that gave the PL the 35,000 majority on an Electoral Manifesto written , directed and produced by Dr. Simon Busuttil who always says , in his defence, "I WAS NEVER THERE , I know nothing.... I know NOTHING.....
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Lennex Brincat
A party for the people. So says Busulloti. Yes indeed same as Deborah Schembri when you stated that her face belonged to a Nationalist. Dear Busulloti why are you wasting your party's time and energy. Which I hope you know that the party can ill afford. I am saying this lest you find another puerile reason for you to escape from reality, same as you did during the 2 months electoral campaign and your mediocrity was evident. Not to mention that you boasted that you were the brains (no brains that is) which created the electoral manifesto and maybe you may know what happened. Lest again you dont know or you dont have the information or you were not in place, may I inform you that thanks to you your party was wiped out.
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Yanika Chetcuti
dgristi, bear in mind that when you talk about Simon Busuttil you would be talking about an old timer, not some newly born babe, like Bugeja. SS is not as responsible as Gonzi for the mess the party is in, and the huge loss it suffered, but he would be as accountable as one of the Ministers, whether hidden or declared! SS was an insider who could have advanced the ideas he is proposing now years back, and from within the party structures. Why didn't he? If he did, and they were rejected, he should be clear about this, and mention names of those that hindered him! Even at this late stage, he should do a "Franco" if he wants people to believe and trust him. Of course he may run, but that should not give him an automatic means to the top spot. The Party is still dazed and broken. It needs a soothing leader, for say a year, till the grassroots recover from their stupor, and see matters in a different and new liberal light.
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kemm qedin nihdu pjaccir bik simon ghax se tohrog ghal kap tal -pn ,jalla titla ghal kap illum qabel ghada, ghax se tizgurana 10 snin ohra il pl fil-gvern .il-poplu semek hafna fil kampanja li ghadiet hu jaf kif mexxejt bil nagativita kbira hu gimmicks il-poplu se jerga jaghti rebha ohra zgur lil-Joseph Muscat iktar mil 36.000 u akbar,min ex pn supporters.
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I believe that Simon has sent three very clear messages. Firstly, it is immature to rule people out of any leadership role, as what the party needs now is unity and commonality of purpose. As he rightly points out, if his role in the last 3 months, with no ministerial or governmental role, disqualifies him, than what should be said about the outgoing cabinet members, who after all were the ones governing the country over the past 5 years. The electorate booted out the outgoing government....period! Secondly, Simon is clearly charting the future of the party as a European People's Party. This is significant because it contrasts with the widespread perception over the past 5-8 years that the Party had become nearly sectarian and adverse to inclusivity. Simone's idea is clearly to reverse that, and his acknowledged skills with civil society will serve him and the party well. Thirdly, he is clearly going to separate the political side of the party from its commercial activities, and he will rely on professionals to lead the way on the commercial side. This is sensible and is well overdue. I believe he has sent ll the right signals.
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Raymond Mintoff
Anotherr PN politician obsessed with PP
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Raymond Mintoff
Anotherr PN politician obsessed with PP