The process to choose a new leader for the Malta Labour Party should be longer than four or five weeks in order to have enough time not only to get over the electoral defeat but also to decide where the party should be in 10 to 15 years' time.

Dominic Fenech, a former general secretary of the MLP, feels that the MLP's new leader will not only have to make sure the party wins the next general election but that it achieves a good result.

That is why he thinks that the process to appoint the new leader has to be well planned and not a rushed job.

His thinking is that there should be a contest whereby the contenders present their ideas to "the broader constituency". By this he means going beyond what he terms as the party's elite core and involving the rank and file.

George Abela, a former deputy leader of the MLP who had resigned after Alfred Sant decided to call an early election in 1998, is arguing that the choice of new leader should not only be restricted to the delegates (about 600) but extended to registered members.

Dr Abela has expressed interest in joining the leadership race.

Prof. Fenech, who is not known to be among the contenders for the leadership, thinks the selection process as it stands now, is too dominated by internal politics.

In comments to The Times, Prof. Fenech says his idea is to appoint a group of trusted people who are Labourites but have no direct interest in the leadership whose task it would be to oversee the race and make sure the party media is fair with all contenders.

"I would like the party to open the windows of its headquarters, preferably on a windy day, and let an overdose of oxygen in to have an awakening, more than a reform... An awakening that democratises the party, in a way that it is given back to the supporters.

There could be a lot of talent even in the new parliamentary group which could be overlooked," Prof. Fenech said.

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