[WATCH] PN’s ‘prosecution’ of Delia unwelcome in leadership race

Implosion in the PN? Journalist Dione Borg and academic Simon Mercieca take a look at what’s happening inside the PN on Xtra Sajf 

A new Nationalist Party leader will be able to rally around activists and rival camps, one of the PN media arm’s long-standing journalists, Dione Borg, said on Xtra Sajf.

Borg made his mark during the ongoing leadership election after requesting the PN secretary-general to tell the electoral commission to conduct an extensive due diligence of all candidates.

But he disputed claims of an “implosion”, made by academic and political observer Simon Mercieca. “Among activists, there is a consensus on the need for change and a reform from the bottom, up. But while there are activists who say this change must be brought about by someone completely new, there are those who say it must be someone who knows already how to steward the part into this change. The discussion right now, is squarely on change,” Borg insisted.

“The change we need is in the way a party does politics. It must be inclusive and understand people better.”

But the PN’s leadership race has been marred by allegations that Delia could have been a middleman for the processing of rental payments from London properties used for prostitution, which were owned or run by Maltese proprietors.

“A candidate must certainly be a straight dealer,” Simon Mercieca said. “But there are a number of allegations at present – let me say it now it is serious that [Delia] has an offshore bank account – and the race has already started. This is the job of councillors and members to decide now. To create some prosecution at this stage of the election, is not on.”

The PN’s administrative council has now asked a party commission for ethics to issue recommendations into the Delia affair.

Mercieca, who had been part of the commission appointed by the PN to analyse the 2013 electoral loss, said the majority of the changes proposed in the report had not taken place.

“Save myself, those in the commission were given a role in the party to effect the changes. Some took place. Others, in the majority, did not. If they had, the situation would have been better today.”

Mercieca, a regular observer of Nationalist party politics, claimed the language of the PN’s electoral leadership race had become more “aggressive”, suggesting an internal pogrom inside the party.

“It is so much harder for the PN to be humble the way Joseph Muscat tried to be. That’s why the PN is dubbed the negative party. It cannot be humble. It has unravelled because it suffers from a lack of profound thought.”

Dione Borg however said Labour’s election victory in 2017 was bolstered by clear cases of patronages in the run-up to the election. “The PN did manage to win over the support of its former activists at the point that certain Labour scandals hit the headlines, but since 2013 it had not carried out the necessary reforms to bring the party closer to the people.”

Borg insisted the PN entered the 2017 elections with many proposals. “It would be unfair to say we were a negative Opposition. The party still needs people who can inspire trust in people to vote for them, and candidates who can convince people.”