Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

The decisions taken at last Friday’s Nationalist Party executive meeting are short-sighted and may not contribute sufficiently towards a much-needed and quick revival of the party.

This newspaper campaigned editorially for a wider electorical college to include all the 30 thousand party members, to be set up in the choice of the new leader. We believe that a wider method of selection would not only revive and galvanise grass root interest in the party but would give the new leader an immediate party-wide popularity stature and comfort to be better able to handle an uphill climb to get the party re-elected.

The selection process would motivate the grass roots support and could also serve as a money earner in the coffers of the party strapped for cash, by putting a nominal membership fee to be eligible to vote the new leader. Many of the arguments put forward by the party leader for not opting for this method of selection do not hold water. The process need not take a year: the Italian Democratic party with a membership base of four million did it in just two months! The argument that persons sympathetic to another party could be tempted to join is hogwash, as the Electoral College could have been limited to persons who were members at the last election date. Somehow we are left with the feeling that there are vested interests in keeping the same restrictive Electoral College as the present persons in control of the party want to maintain the status quo. This is suicidal and nothing can do more harm to the party than the preservation of the status quo.

Revival requires a 'tabula rasa' - a clean sweep, ideally the contestants for the top post should also include persons from outside the party present structures. These difficult times require hard decisions, thinking out of the box and going for a three-person ticket, which includes a mixture of experienced and new faces in the top posts.

To date we have only heard of the personalities likely to contest the election and note with great disappointment that there are no 'outside' names. However, it's not the names that one needs to look at but the particular roles and the qualities required by the persons to fill the posts. Rather than saying who should be the secretary general, does it not make more sense to delve into the qualities and the role required from such a post? Is it not time to determine whether the political and the commercial roles presently both captained by the secretary general should not be divided and split up, with a commercial person taking full charge of the commercial responsibilities with ultimate accountability to the party leader? We have little doubt that the secretary general needs to be 'people friendly', but is this sufficient and are not professional management skills drive and ruthless achievement of goals what is to be expected from the holder of the third post in the party?

We are also rather sceptical about the time granted for the autopsy report to be presented to the executive. It's absurd that it will be analysed after the leadership contestation. It must be made available prior to the date of voting, as it could include facts and information and reasons which would help the voter choose a candidate over another. Equally revealing is the choice of persons to compile the report. They are all insiders, while the analysis must be surgical, and needs to include persons who are outside the party and who don't have any conflict of interest when it comes to particular contestants.

We have the suspicion that the party administrators and certain elements of the party executive retain an interest in keeping the present staus quo by choosing candidates amenable and on the same wavelength as the persons who, to date, have wielded the power in the party. This is a mistake. The party needs a revival project and not the preservation of the status quo.

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