[WATCH] Nationalist Party must change the way it looks at Maltese society, MP says

Speaking on Xtra on Thursday, Claudio Grech said the party’s aim must no longer be linked to an ideology, but rather the vision it had for the future

Nationalist MP Claudio Grech
Nationalist MP Claudio Grech

One of the reasons the electorate keeps rejecting the Nationalist Party is probably the way it has, and continues to look at Maltese society, according to PN MP Claudio Grech.

The MP was interviewed on current affairs programme Xtra on Thursday, which discussed the current state of the PN, where he said that the electorate was sending the party a clear message.

“If we aren’t going to be capable of understanding the message people are sending us, screaming at us even, I can’t understand how we can convince people we are an alternative government,” Grech said, stressing that it needed to understand the cause of the current disdain towards it. 

“I don’t believe it is a long list, but there a number of causes that aren’t necessarily linked to one person or the other, but possibly regarding how the Nationalist Party is looking at, or has continued to look at Maltese society.”

Any solution in this regard must be found within the parliamentary group, which must then push for change within the party’s internal structures.

Grech also expressed his belief that parties could not longer remain linked to an ideology, but to a vision of where it wants to see the country going.

“Our country has many challenges and many positive,” he said. “I have always believed that the system and culture of tribes in this country must end.”

He said the country needed to move away from the system where people are either on one side or the other, without any logic or rationale.

“This needs to end once and for all and the Nationalist Party needs to be built, not on the concept of a tribe, but by building on what it achieved, not for the party, but for the country,” Grech said, adding “beating Labour” could not remain its only motive.

Tonight’s episode featured a discussion among MaltaToday journalist James Debono, The Malta Independent Editor-in-Chief Rachel Attard, former The Sunday Times of Malta editor Laurence Grech and former PN MEP Francis Zammit Dimech.

Zammit Dimech, who recently offered to act as a mediator of sorts, between the two factions within the PN stressed that any talk about political responsibility needs to placed within the right political context

“When you see the whole political context you’ve never had a situation in Malta were the leader of a party resigned or initiated some internal procedure after the result of a European or local council election,” Zammit Dimech said.  

Insisting that every option should at this point remain on the table, he highlighted that while there were many who weren’t comfortable with Adrian Delia’s leadership, there were also many who were. A change now could simply lead to a different segment of the traditionally PN voter base feeling disenfranchised.

He also noted that the result obtained by the PN in the last MEP elections wasn’t too different to that from the last round.

Misco chairman and political observer Lawrence Zammit said he believed that like Lawrence Gonzi and Eddie Fenech Adami before him, Delia needed to submit his leadership to a vote of confidence within the party’s structures.

“I think they should be two examples, not because we should live in the past, but its because it is what is required of politics because you can’t assume that those that voted for you yesterday are today still where they were,” Zammit said.  

Attard questioned why Delia had not yet decided to submit himself to a confidence vote, given the strongly held belief that he was popular among the party’s grassroots supporters.

Debono, pointed out that despite all the talk of Delia stepping down, the reality was that there did not appear to be anyone willing to challenge him at this point. Anyone who stepped in now, he said, knew that he would lose the next general election meaning that potential challengers were for the time being buying time.

In analyzing the present situation, Debono stressed that one could not be dismissive of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and the Labour Party by saying they were buying votes. “You can’t ignore the difference [Muscat] has made in the life of certain people. There were people in this country who were invisible before him.”

He acknowledged that there were also negative aspects to the present administration, such as the degradation of the environment and corruption, but he said that Muscat had by no means invented the wheel in this regard.

While corruption was a serious issue that needed discussing, he said that many in the country had interpreted the PN’s emphasis on corruption as just another ploy to take power.

This was echoed by Attard who noted that unlike the PN’s past rallying cries, like freedom of expression in the 1980s, free markets in 1990s and the EU in the noughties, it now lacked  a narrative that could appeal to people, especially when considering that Muscat and the Labour Party were today the champions of civil liberties.