Claudio Grech says no to PN leadership bid, citing ‘silent hostility’ inside party

Once an aide to former Nationalist minister Austin Gatt, Nationalist MP Claudio Grech has decided not to contest the PNs leadership election

Claudio Grech will not contest the PN leadership election
Claudio Grech will not contest the PN leadership election

Nationalist MP Claudio Grech, whom many have described as a potential replacement to Simon Busuttil, will not be contesting the PN leadership election.

The news was confirmed by Grech himself, bringing to an end weeks of waiting as several PN supporters, MPs and exponents waited for Grech to throw his hat in the ring.

“This wasn’t easy. But after due consideration, I shall not be contesting as I feel I need to gain more front-line political experience to be an ideal candidate for the PN leadership. Although I’ve been literally brought up in the PN, this was merely my second election with only four years as an MP,” Grech said in a lengthy Facebook post.

Nominations for the election close tomorrow. The three candidates so far are Adrian Delia, Chris Said and Alex Perici Calascione.

Grech described the encouragement he received over the last weeks as “overwhelming”, and difficult to describe.

“I was raised in the PN. As a small child I ran around in the maze of the Stamperija corridors, at a time when living your political beliefs was difficult. I was brought up to love what the PN stands for, embrace the vision it had for our country and the values it fought for.

“As such there are no words to express the fulfilment for serving as a PN MP, a privilege I shall cherish for life. So one can only imagine the sense of pride this grassroot encouragement instilled in me.”

Grech was the lead executive driving the development and implementation of Malta’s information society and e-Government efforts. He worked at senior levels in the public sector for over 14 years in various roles including those of Head of Secretariat of the Ministry responsible for Investment, ICT, Infrastructure and public investments (2003-2008) and also as Chairman of the Malta IT Agency (2008-2011).  Between 2008 and 2009 he also served as the first CEO of SmartCity Malta and in 2010, he set up his own boutique consultancy practice in the field of strategy execution and change management.

“Having the PN at heart means that my decision be driven by responsible discernment, in which personal ambition and achievement are side-lined,” Grech wrote.

“I believe that leading the PN and the Opposition is a different thing altogether. It is not something which can work out by trial and error, simply on a gut feeling or based on a hunch. The implications of this role for our democracy are massive, even more so at this juncture.”

Grech said that he wanted to concentrate on immersing himself in the social reality of his constituency and “the dark side of society” wherein so many people are living miserably and have given up on the empty talk of politicians.

However, Grech also raises the party’s recent internal conflict over a number of issues as another important reason informing his decision.

“Unfortunately, over the last years, boundaries were drawn up demarcating the political space of ‘conservatives’ and ‘liberals’ which generated a silent hostility. Throughout the term, the choice was between blind loyalty to the Party and being true to one’s views of what the PN always stood for.

“Over the last weeks, when I raised the logic of the Party giving a free vote to its MPs on issues involving ethical considerations, hostility intensified on the grounds that the decision was taken by the highest Party structures.”

Grech said that, being a political direction adopted by the Executive Committee and the Kunsill Generali, his prospective leadership would not only put him in a constant quandary but, more materially, would also negatively impact the PN’s focus.

“This would distract it from matters of much higher importance, not the least the threats to our institutions,” he argued.

“Indeed politics is about principles. I hope the time will soon come when the PN will shine again, live this maxim and move forward in the belief that our mission is about being a popular choice for a stronger, better and fairer government.”

Grech said he dreamed of a PN that embraces diversity  through courageous politics and not dogmatic imposition.

“The PN I seek is the one that can ably reflect Christian democracy in today’s modern society and economy, moving forward without disowning its roots. I shall work hard for a PN that supports opposing views, passionate as they may be, and allows them to serenely co-exist on the strength of convergence.

“Till then, I shall strive relentlessly to represent the silent majority that believes in what the PN always stood for.”