Transforming the PN into a force for change | Bernard Grech

A united and credible Nationalist Party is the greatest contribution we can offer our country. Tomorrow will be better. I am ready

The election for the leadership of the Nationalist Party is underway. Starting this weekend, members of the Nationalist Party are being called upon to make a fundamental choice. We have the opportunity to give our Party a new lease of life in order to renew itself and successfully offer an exciting new direction for our country or to allow the PN to stagnate and continue to be dragged down the path of divisiveness.

This is why throughout my electoral campaign, and which is now drawing to a close, I have constantly underlined the three core values my candidature stands upon – unity and renewal. It is only through these that we can aspire to fulfil the third value – success. This is the process of transformation I promised.

Let us make no mistake: this week’s election is hugely consequential not only for the Nationalist Party but also for Malta and Gozo. For too long, Joseph Muscat and Robert Abela have been allowed to ride roughshod over the State’s legal framework and democratic norms. Those entrusted with the highest honour of service have allowed corruption to seep into all levels of governance, and have been given a free ride at pillaging our coffers.

All of us yearn for a better tomorrow. The events that have unfolded over the past seven years show how fragile our democracy is. Recent events have shown us that we were right throughout. This gives us a glimmer of hope that the tide is indeed turning. The freezing of assets and arrest of Joseph Muscat’s right-hand man Keith Schembri and those of their closest collaborators indicate that our institutions are now being forced to act in parallel to which is the unravelling of the Electrogas scandal and the information being exposed pertinent to the Vitals deal, when the latter gave away our hospitals to a team of tricksters.

The Nationalist Party is at a crossroads, the direction of which will be determined by this election. This country needs a strong Opposition to put an end to these corrupt practices and reinstate our country’s deteriorating reputation at once. This we can do once we become a credible alternative to government. Imagine what more we can do if we reignite the flame of our Nationalist Party and rebuild it to the formidable force it has been at so many other key junctures in history. This is what we stand for. This is what we aspire to achieve.

This is therefore a unique opportunity. We must once again believe in the strength of our diversity of backgrounds and ideas, we must strengthen all internal structures to create a platform for active participation of people from all walks of life, across all our fora, party structures and committees. I have pledged to work relentlessly to achieve the objective of unity, and truly believe it is the key challenge facing our party at present. Not only is unity critical for the PN’s survival as a party, but the electability of any broad-church party depends on its ability to represent the widest possible coalition of groups and ideas.

The division entrenched within the PN has prevented it from reaching out to key stakeholders in the wider community. By catalysing unity internally, we can concentrate all our energy on building a modern and progressive movement. Over the coming months, we will organize an unprecedented outreach exercise with stakeholders and social groupings across all facets of civil society.

Then, and only then, can we develop an alternative vision for our country that inspires people across generations. One that challenges the status quo and addresses the true concerns we face as a nation. One that inspires a culture of quality and excellence, where the highest standards become the order of the day and not just an unachievable ideal. One based on sustainability across all facets of socio-economic development and that ensures that the new democratic institutions we build are future-proof by design and in substance.

I want to see a country where growth and prosperity are there as a direct consequence of the country’s investments in technology, innovation and the positive drive and advancement of industry in general. Above all, as I have constantly reiterated throughout these past weeks, I want to see a country whereby us as persons are indeed placed at the centre-stage of the nation’s political, social and economic development.

This is why I want to transform the Nationalist Party into a strong and credible force of change. One that is always ready to step up to the occasion and to serve when it is called upon to do so. There can be no higher honour than that of serving our country by bringing about positive change around us on all levels, one that imbues a sense of social justice and improves people’s lives.

A united and credible Nationalist Party is the greatest contribution we can offer our country. Tomorrow will be better. I am ready.

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