What you see is what you get

Delia is past-tense, there is no doubt. Not even the pious arguments of people like Edwin Vassallo will halt the tsunami that wants to bring change to the PN. But the change that is needed in the PN must be a sincere one. 

Therese Comodini Cachia
Therese Comodini Cachia

For the first week as the anointed leader by the rebel PN members of parliament, Therese Comodini Cachia has managed to achieve the same PN support as PN leader Adrian Delia enjoys. Depending on the way you see it, that could be viewed as commendable enough, but surely it is not good enough, and she will have to do much more than simply offer her name up as an alternative. 

Adrian Delia’s future as leader is practically over and it seems like it is only a matter of days or weeks before he will be unceremoniously kicked out of the party as leader. 

It will be an ugly ending to a short political career for a man who was previously only known as a ruthless litigation lawyer working with Georg Sapiano, and more popularly, as the president of Birkirkara FC. 

He started off on a bad note, duelling publicly with Daphne Caruana Galizia, who before Delia had entered the scene like some Janissary getting ready to chop off all the dead wood of a party led by anointed people. Caruana Galizia did not believe that Delia was worthy of the title of PN leader and she launched a scathing three-month attack on him. She was not ignored and Delia retorted in kind, with his choice words immortalised for the rest of his career. When he did finally become leader in September 2017 he vowed to fight the allegations of Caruana Galizia in court where he had opened seven defamation cases against her. When Caruana Galizia was assassinated just a month after his election, Delia’s lame duck leadership appeared to have been then carved in stone. 

Civil society protests attended by PN core voters shunned him, and instead embraced his dissident MPs and former leader Simon Busuttil. When things started to settle down for him, his marriage fell apart and details of the acrimonious affair were propelled into the public domain, doing little to help his image, burdened by troubling allegations on his corporate services to London properties used by the one-time Maltese syndicate in Soho, and his own financial problems. Delia entered politics to fight a well-oiled government riding on the buoyant economy, with little help from his own MPs and an antagonistic independent media with sharpened knives. 

Delia is past-tense, there is no doubt. Not even the pious arguments of people like Edwin Vassallo will halt the tsunami that wants to bring change to the PN. But the change that is needed in the PN must be a sincere one.

So when it turned out that Yorgen Fenech was the owner of the mysterious Dubai company 17 Black, with his links to the Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi’s Panama companies now finally confirmed, the arrest of the Caruana Galizia mastermind months down the line made it even worse for Delia. For the embattled leader was, like many in politics, not uncomfortable with having an old chinwag with the Tumas magnate. That contact appeared to have persisted after the 17 Black revelations, as claimed in leaked WhatsApp messages of the PN leader’s conversations, has made his political position irreparably untenable. 

But all throughout, the fact is that in just three years Delia continued to score miserably in the polls, with a trust rating difference of 30 points. It meant that if an election were held tomorrow, Labour leader Robert Abela would win with an even bigger majority than before. That’s enough to send shivers down anyone who has democracy at heart. 

Delia is past-tense, there is no doubt. Not even the pious arguments of people like Edwin Vassallo will halt the tsunami that wants to bring change to the PN. But the change that is needed in the PN must be a sincere one. It has to be one that gives voters a chance to dream. A party that will not be a one-issue party, that will not shun the business community like Busuttil apparently thought it fit to do (for reneging on its PN affiliation), that will give everyone a level-playing field and present new faces that realistically show that change is possible. They can only go as far with the mantra of good governance and rule of law (without trying to discount their importance), because the PN must appeal to a whole lot more voters, including Labour voters. 

A party that does not appreciate that it can only win an election if voters from another party cross the border and support it at the polls is doomed to fail. Does Therese Comodini Cachia tick all these boxes? The electorate will need some convincing. We will need some convincing, sure enough. 

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