They’re rebels with a cause. That cause is to unseat a deeply unsuitable leader in order to save a political party from self-destruction and give it a chance to offer a credible challenge to the governing party at the next election.

There’s nothing like a common goal to be reached at all costs, an objective that transcends individual interests, a higher purpose whose achievement is of vital importance, to get a group of people to set aside their personal ambitions and pool their efforts and talents.

On a larger scale perhaps, the PN has been here before. It has fought hard to win several elections on the strength of overriding causes: independence in the 1960s, the ousting of a rotten government in the 1980s and EU membership in the noughties. Enormous challenges were overcome by talented and focused individuals working together for the party during those times.

What the party faces now is like a microcosm of those historic occasions, which seem to come at roughly 20-year intervals. It was looking like a lost cause, the party on the brink of disintegration, when members of its parliamentary group made a bold attempt, after fluffing previous ones, to boot out an opposition leader under whose tenure the PN has become a shadow of its former self. In the event, they were tripped at the first hurdle by a president whose interpretation of the constitution drew outrage from constitutional experts.

But by the brave decision by one member of that group, a chain of events was set in motion that has now carried the PN to the brink of rebirth, if its members should prove equal to the challenge in the forthcoming leadership election.

Therese Comodini Cachia took a step in the dark when she submitted herself as an alternative opposition leader. It wasn’t as if she had long coveted the position; at least she had never appeared on anyone’s shortlist of potential PN leaders. Her decision required courage, selflessness and self-sacrifice, fraught as it was with uncertainties and risks to her future and that of the party.

Equally courageous and selfless was her latest decision to withdraw from contestation of the party leadership in favour of outsider Bernard Grech, as did two other potential contenders, Roberta Metsola and Mark Anthony Sammut.

Great things can be achieved when people put their personal interests second

Comodini Cachia has correctly described herself as the catalyst of a process intended to lead to the regeneration of the party and restoration of the people’s trust in it. In the end, she bowed her head to the widespread view that the dissident faction needs to unite behind a single candidate who can mend its divisions and is, therefore, in the best position to fulfil the immediate needs of party and country. She does not see herself as that candidate.

While Grech still has much to prove, Comodini Cachia has committed herself to upholding the principles which have led her thus far and to see the PN becoming a “united, credible and serious team” for the good of Malta.

Great things can be achieved when people put their personal interests second like this and work for the good of the whole. It is this sort of spirit that must motivate the PN again, as in the past. One hopes that Grech is the right person to engender this spirit if he is given the opportunity to lead.

It is time for the new team to prove wrong those who have grown cynical of all politicians. It is time to put the idealism of service back into  PN – and national – politics.

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