The door is always open

The PN must rediscover its long lost can do approach: open its doors wide open for all people of good will; stand up for what is right and place the individual at the heart of its policies

The PN must stand up for what is right and place the individual at the heart of its policies
The PN must stand up for what is right and place the individual at the heart of its policies

1. A few hours after the election result was out, with Simon Busuttil making it abundantly clear that he will step down, speculation started on who will succeed him at the helm of the Nationalist Party. Some stated that it should be a political outsider, others that the new leader should have the necessary political experience. Leadership races could be tense affairs. One cannot underestimate the simple political fact that changing a leader is a major event in itself. Plenty, always, can go wrong. But focusing solely on who will be the new leader and his or her attributes is to put cart before horse. Good work has been done in the past five years, but the party’s brand is damaged. Changes must be made. People expect a ‘can do’ Nationalist Party. The road ahead is challenging. This is not a one-person task. All hands need to be on deck. But one person with the wrong motives can wreak havoc.

2. The Nationalist Party was badly defeated for the second time running, which makes 2022 not an impossible feat but definitely a herculean task for the new leadership. No one in his right senses would contest the leadership election if not for the love of country. Another devastating defeat in 2022 would spell the end of whoever is at the helm and create further problems for the Nationalist Party and even more so for the country.

3. The question everybody is asking is whether the Nationalist Party can render itself electable again. The answer is yes – as long as the right choices are made; the party levels with the people; rediscovers its long lost ‘can do’ attitude; open its doors wide open for all people of good will; stand up for what is right and place the individual at the heart of its policies. New goals cannot be achieved by reiterating failed approaches of the past. The Nationalist party must hold government to account whilst building on the government’s successes, while offering a better alternative that can convince the swing voters to give it its support.

4. Who precisely will dare to do battle with the prime minister who secured another landslide? By the time of writing, lawyer and Birkirkara FC president, Adrian Delia, and Nationalist MP Chris Said have thrown their hat in the ring. More are expected to follow. There are enormous challenges ahead of them. Expect no Mr or Mrs Perfect to save the day for the Nationalist Party. What is required is quite basic: the new PN leader should have the skills and determination to lead. Populism is not the way forward. But neither is intransigence, nor an ‘I-know-it-all attitude’. And then, a leader must be shrewd, inclusive, street-wise, able to bear criticism and emotionally intelligent. A tall order? Not really, it’s pretty basic. During the leadership campaign expect to hear a lot of brave words. Let’s just wait to see what happens when the going gets tough.

5. If political rivalry and personal interests overshadow the leadership race, the Nationalist party risks a split and that would destine the party into Opposition for many years to come. Simon Busuttil has, time and again, promised a level playing field. That means that the current leadership will not, in any way or form, attempt to influence the leadership race. Busuttil is a man of his word. I’m sure he will see his promise through.

6. Hundreds, probably thousands of people were employed in the public sector in the run up to the general election. Handouts were given, and promotions within government departments and the disciplinary forces were the order of the day. That surely had an impact on the outcome of the election. But it would be wrong for the Nationalist Party to attribute the election result solely to the ‘power of incumbency’. There were various other factors at play. By time these shall be highlighted, not for finger-pointing purposes, but to learn from mistakes made – hopefully.

7. This week Simon Busuttil sensibly urged his fellow MPs to avoid splitting the party apart over the gay marriage issue. On the other hand, the government cannot expect the Opposition to rubber-stamp its proposals with no questions asked. The Nationalist Party is duty bound to suggest amendments to any bill presented by the government. In this case however, the end result is gay marriage, which was an integral part of the Nationalist Party electoral manifesto.

8. No fewer than 20,000 card-carrying members are eligible to vote for the new Nationalist Party leader and his deputies. But card-carrying members should come together not only to elect leaders but also to take stock of the situation within the party and suggest the way forward on bread and butter issues. The new leader would do well to bring them on board and consult with them frequently.

Frank Psaila presents Iswed Fuq Abjad on Net TV