The Nationalist Party must change its attitude to attract back “switchers”, as the Labour Party is managing to win over different sectors of society by acquiescing to their demands and using an excellent marketing strategy.

These were the views expressed by communications expert and University lecturer Fr Joe Borg and former PN minister Michael Falzon when asked to comment about the state of the two major political parties in the wake of the MEP election.

Fr Borg remarked that, since his election as leader in 2008, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat had galvanised what he described as the “latent Labour majority” through an excellent marketing strategy and by reading the socio-cultural state of the country at the time.

The coalition of grand, positive and egoistical values that Joseph Muscat crafted is still there- Fr Joe Borg

His model was to look at the small picture and adopt a niche kind of politics to make the bigger picture more appealing, he said.

“While there was something for the gay lobby, hunters, developers, environmentalists and the unemployed, he ferreted out all discontent irrespective of whether it was justified or not – and promised ad hoc solutions.” Fr Borg added that Dr Muscat was even ready to satisfy voters who had left the PN for purely “selfish” personal reasons.

“The coalition of grand, positive and egoistical values that Dr Muscat so cleverly crafted is still alive and kicking. We should have seen it coming but we didn’t,” Fr Borg said. However, he pointed out that the pecking order of members of the coalition was tactfully reclassified after the election, with hunters and developers given priority over others as they were in larger numbers.

Meanwhile, the PN’s insistence to bring to justice those who had tampered with electricity meters played in to the hands of Labour as the latter was much more appealing offering an amnesty, he said.

Fr Borg also argued out that it was highly unlikely for “switchers” to placate their feeling and return to the PN after just a year, as they would risk ruining the chance of getting what they had been promised a year before.

Regarding the future of the PN, Fr Borg expressed his conviction that Simon Busuttil had potential but needed to be more assertive, while the party was still crying for a radical overhaul.

He also pointed out that it was quite ironic that Labour’s negative campaign against Dr Busuttil seemed to have gone unnoticed by the media, while the PN was continuously facing a barrage of criticism for doing exactly the same thing.

Mr Falzon was more critical towards the PN, remarking that its biggest mistake was to keep putting all those who had either left the party or even sympathised with Labour in a bad light.

He said the PN’s message to switchers was very simple: “You had a right to do so [vote Labour], but you were not right.”

Mr Falzon added that such an approach was a signal that the party had not yet come to terms with defeat and that it was still underestimating its political rival.

“You cannot keep pretending you are perfect and that Labour is completely wrong as this may ultimately be interpreted as a sign of arrogance.”

Mr Falzon said that, even if one had to concede that this was the start of a 10-year government cycle for Labour, the PN’s result was still disappointing.

Regarding Dr Busuttil’s future, the former Cabinet member said he had to imprint his leadership on the party.

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