In the second round of the leadership election being held today, Simon Busuttil will formally be appointed as the new leader of the Nationalist Party and its seventh leader in its 133 year history.
I know Simon as a very humble and honest person. A man you can openly discuss with and who is always open to criticism. That is in fact one of his best qualities. He does not push back people who criticize him or challenge his views. On the contrary, he is someone who can listen and bring different positions together.
Irrelevant of who we supported or voted for at the first round of this leadership contest, the councilors' free and democratic choice has been made. It was an open contest where we the councilors listened to every candidate's plans and views, where we discussed, where we asked, where we discerned. I am sure that now, all genuine Nationalists will unite around the new leader, as the other leadership contestants have themselves done in a true and exemplary display of gentlemanly behaviour.
On the other hand, as expected, Labour is already trying to discredit Busuttil.
Firstly, by saying that he has the support of only 50.3% of the party's councilors, conveniently forgetting that Muscat had obtained just 49% in his first round. At the same time, they also try to imply that some mean machine controls the way the councilors think and act. If that were the case, the result wouldn't have co-incidentally resulted in a perfect replica of the results of a survey among people who voted PN in the last election.
Their second line-of-attack is that Simon is already tried-and-tested. I contest that. On a local level, Simon is one of the new MPs, being the first time he has been elected to Parliament. Having been appointed deputy leader in the last 3 months of the previous election doesn't dismiss him. Yes, he was part of the losing team as were most of us, and as in fact was Joseph when he pushed for EU Partnership and campaigned against membership. The place where Simon has truly been tried-and-tested was the EU Parliament, a place where he won great respect and remarkable achievements for someone coming from a small country like Malta: was awarded the 2012 MEP of the Year Award and had he not returned to Malta, he was in the run to become a Vice-President of the EPP. Quite a display of loyalty and an example of putting the needs of the country and the party before your own interests. Something we all can learn from.
Some Labour-sympathizing blogs have gone on to say that Joseph must be very happy with this outcome. Well, I remember us all very happy when a manipulative journalist was elected as Labour leader, believing that another PN election win was for granted. He ended up proving us wrong.
I am sure Simon will do the same.
That is why today I will be voting to confirm his election as our leader, and will be looking forward for his first address to the General Council as Party Leader tonight. An address in which he will pave the way forward for the Nationalist Party as a re-grouped, renewed and strengthened party.
A new chapter is about to start. Let's be part of it. Let's help writing it.