Editorial | When is the Nationalist Party going to get its act together?

When Grech was elected to replace Delia, we had stated it would take a strong, fair and focused leadership to get PN MPs singing from the same hymn book and that the new leader would need to stimulate discussion, be bold and forward-looking


For some weeks now, it was evident the PN was trying to put up a fight: it started putting forward some serious proposals and arguments; Bernard Grech himself appeared to have finally fully taken on the mantle of leader and it seemed like he had finally found his place and voice, even facing journalists every week.

The PN was starting to look as a possible, viable alternative to Labour, at a time when one is sorely needed.

But the euphoria was short-lived, as Adrian Delia and Jason Azzopardi took to Facebook to once again remind us all just how divided the PN’s parliamentary group is.

Azzopardi’s taunting comments and veiled references led the former leader to lambast his colleague, asking him a number of pointed question and challenging him to sue him for libel.

Yesterday afternoon, Grech announced he had called an urgent meeting of the party’s executive committee for tonight “to discuss a breach of the party’s social media rules” and so that the committee takes “all the decisions it deems necessary in these circumstances”.

It is yet to be seen if tonight’s meeting will be used to try and oust Delia out of the parliamentary group once and for all or if both MPs will be cautioned.

What is sure is that this latest saga will continue to turn people away from a party that must surely be considering the likelihood of an early election being called for later this year.

A democracy requires a strong parliamentary Opposition that functions as a watchdog on the executive and also strives to be an alternative government.

Over the past four years, the ability of the Opposition to carry out its functions in an expedient and efficient manner was unfortunately hampered by infighting, open hostility by some MPs towards Adrian Delia and a lack of focus. Delia himself lacked leadership and faced issues of ethical concern that did not help the situation.

Irrespective of the reasons for the infighting – some of which may have been very valid – the general consensus was that the country could not afford having a divided Opposition.

The fragmentation gave rise to mixed messages that confused people. Stakeholders were sometimes left wondering what the Opposition’s official message was as a result of the different voices that had no common base.

But after Grech was installed, people were expecting a measure of consolidation and focus to kick in. Stability had to be restored. It was evident that the healing process would take time but many were confident the party was finally past the worst. But not so.

If anything, this latest spat has shown that Grech still has a long road ahead of him to foster unity in the Opposition and rein in the loose cannons that shoot from the hip on social media.

The Opposition has to present itself as a government in waiting and this is where the raison d’etre of any political party lies.

Politics is all about ideas to move the country forward. A political party must have a vision of where it wants the country and society to go, and how it intends to achieve that.

This is something the Opposition failed to do under Delia. Under Grech, it was obvious that was starting to change. It seemed like the PN had remembered how to sit down and think. It seemed like it was once again listening to people’s concerns and their aspirations.

And it showed it had learned how to translate those concerns and aspirations into opportunities by proposing concrete solutions.

This is what the PN had to do to portray itself once again as a credible alternative to Labour. The party knew it would take hard work and that time is not on its side.

But all that has now been swept aside by new proof – for those that needed any – that the rift inside the PN is anything but mended and that the parliamentary group is hardly united behind one leader.

When Grech was elected to replace Delia, we had stated it would take a strong, fair and focused leadership to get PN MPs singing from the same hymn book and that the new leader would need to stimulate discussion, be bold and forward-looking.

Alas, Grech has not yet shown he can be all that.

And while tonight’s meeting might very well end any hope the party has of putting on a strong performance in an early upcoming election, it will say even more about what kind of leader Grech is and wants to be.

It is indeed a sorry state we find ourselves in. Once again, we find ourselves hoping that a late-night meeting at the Dar Centrali will end the infighting within the PN and that the Opposition will finally get its act together for the good of the country.

More in Business