Grech gets strong mandate with 81%: ‘Unity, discipline and restructuring start now’

Bernard Grech approved for re-election by 1,124 councillors out of eligible 1,564 in post-election confirmation of his leadership

PN leader Bernard Grech was re-elected by General Councillors with 81% of the vote
PN leader Bernard Grech was re-elected by General Councillors with 81% of the vote

The Nationalist Party’s leader Bernard Grech was reconfirmed by 81% of valid votes cast by the PN’s General Council yesterday, in a mandatory election required after each general election.

Grech toasted his strong mandate, increasing from his 2020 vote of 69% against Adrian Delia, to 81% in this one-horse race.

Grech welcomed the General Council vote as a vote for “more unity, a stronger PN, and for an end to individualism,” a reference to party infighting and factionalism that characterised the last years.

“Today, love has triumphed over hatred, and truth over lies... I will repay this trust in decisions,” Grech said.

Immediately, the PN leader said he would start a reorganisation of the party structure as well as its over €32 million in debts, that will be accompanied by a valuation of the party’s assets as well as a reorganisations of its commercial companies.

“This process must take us into the 2024 European and local elections, as well as the 2027 general elections... decisions will be taken for us to have a more organised, stronger and efficient party.”

Grech warned party members that they would have to pull the same rope for the PN to maximise its assets and put its finances back on solid footing. “The PN’s companies must be made profitable and cannot be run on the same basis as when they were first created.”

But he also said the party would still invest more in its communication, making special mention of a digital-first approach through social media.

And he also cautioned that the party’s reorganisation will require discipline from every party member. “The need for a reorganisation and discipline in the party and among every member has been made more urgent by the election,” he said.

Grech said he wanted to see the PN secretary-general undertake more responsibility for this reorganisation, while political roles would fall squarely on the party leader and deputy leader.

He also said the PN think-tank AZAD will be used as a recruitment base for candidates as well as serve as an ideological incubator for the PN. “We need to look at ‘brand PN’ comprehensively and update ourselves. We need to update our identity for present-day expectations.”

Grech said he will bolster the PN’s research and development team, to finalise the forthcoming electoral programmes for 2024.

Party election

The Nationalist Party reconfirmed its leader Bernard Grech in a one-horse leadership election, with electoral commissioner Peter Fenech saying Grech had received 1,124 votes approving him to stay on as leader, with 266 votes against.

The leadership election, held by secret ballot, is mandated by the PN’s statute after each general election. Grech was the only candidate for the election, which could have been contested by anyone.

There were 1,564 councillors eligible to cast their vote. 90% of the General Council, or 1,402, cast their vote, with just 12 votes found to be invalid. A total of 1,390 valid votes were cast.

Grech received more votes than his predecessor Adrian Delia in a 2019 confirmation vote in the General Council, when he garnered 67%, or 920 votes out of 1,380 votes cast.

“Grech has a strong mandate,” PN secretary-general Michael Piccinino said. “From this very day starts a process for us to take a host of important decisions, for us to reorganise and face the coming European and local council elections in 2024... I am convinced we can overcome our problems for the PN to reach out to more people, to grow, and get more results.”

The absence of a minority of councillors from the vote was noted by Nationalist MP Mark Anthony Sammut, also the president of the PN General Council, who on Net TV said the party should understand why these delegates kept away from the election.

Voting started on Friday at 5pm till 9pm, and closed today at 5pm.

“Today is a crucial day for the party,” Grech said after casting his vote earlier today at 10am. He told councillors a strong confirmation vote would allow the party to take courageous decisions and to become stronger. “The success of a winning party will enable us to be able to lead this country.”

Observers feared a general lack of interest could characterise Grech’s re-election after early voting on Monday finished with just 15.5% of eligible General Council members, casting their ballot. On Thursday, the PN launched an eleventh-hour proxy vote for eligible voters who are abroad, to appoint a ‘trusted friend’ to cast their preference for Grech.

The statute points out that a secret ballot must be held in the General Council in the case of one nomination for a leadership election, who will be elected with over 50% of valid votes cast by councillors. This had been one of the amendments to the Statute made after the PN first held its 2017 leadership election between all paid-up members that elected Adrian Delia,