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New blood calls for PN renewal

Five young PN politicians, including myself, were interviewed by MaltaToday about what led to the PN's defeat at the polls and what the PN should do to reinvent itself. The below are my replies.

Why did you join the PN?

I joined the PN because it's the party which most reflected my political values. Free market, lower taxation, individual freedom, the emphasis on education to empower the individual, and believing in Malta's place in the European Union as an equal partner.

In the past few years did the PN give enough space to young persons and women?

I think women did and still do have an equal opportunity to voice themselves and work in the Party, not only through the MNPN but also in the central structures. Both the President of the Executive and the President of the General Council are women, and elected without the need of quotas. Having said that, all Party branches including MNPN and MZPN need to reach out more to get youngsters and women to participate in the political dialogue. In these past few years, I feel that the youngsters involved in the Party were not allowed enough space to grow. And it's the young who now need to be the catalysts of positive change and reform within the Party.

What are the main reasons that led to the PN's heavy defeat at the polls?

1.   We did not inspire a common aspiration for the next five years. Following EU membership, the PN has lacked in transmitting a political mission. We only won the 2008 election because Gonzi was more credible than an already mistrusted Sant.

2.   The corruption scandals which happened under the PN's watch lost the PN its higher moral ground. People saw us as no different to Labour on those terms.

3.   Failed reforms like public transport damaged the track record that a Nationalist government always implements changes with seriousness and professionalism for the benefit of all.

4.   The arrogance embodied by certain Ministers drove people away. It wasn't the policies, it was the attitude and style that people voted out.

5.   The macro-scale economic success did not trickle down to everyone.

How can the PN renew itself in the next few months? What needs to change?

First of all the PN needs to re-think its political philosophy and identity, and set out on a long-term project of where it wants the country to go and what it wants itself to represent. This will give back to its members a mission to unite behind, not for power, not for what they can take, but for what they can give to reach that goal. Members need to once again be loyal towards an ideal and a vision, and not simply towards a person, be it the Leader or anyone else.

It needs to re-open itself up to a process of dialogue with society, and set its policies in a bottom-up approach. I think the Party should set up fora for professionals (engineers, scientists, doctors) to keep open discussions setting the Party and eventually the country's future policies.

It should also strengthen and reform its structures, rebuilding the communications network with the people through the Sectional Committees as links in the community, and through widespread youth branches.

It also needs to address the organizational deficiencies which were obvious in this election. Political candidates need to be prepared and approved early, and the role of AZAD as a true political academy needs to be improved substantially in this regard.

The leadership needs to also reflect a balance between the conservative and liberal wings, and in this balanced approach always put the individual at the heart of every decision, keeping true to the core human values which have shaped our society.

Are you prepared to give your contribution in this renewal process? How?

Yes, I will be giving my utmost to put my skills at the service of the Party that I love. I want the PN to become once again the driver of positive change, and the Party in which everyone can feel at home. Having been contacted by a number of Party councillors to contribute more in the Party's structures, I am obviously considering my options, and I am discussing my views with a number of Party councillors. In whatever role I might be playing, I am determined to help the Party turn this difficult situation into an opportunity to re-unite and regenerate.

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