It seems to me that Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando (Divorce And Nationalist Values, January 25) has touched on a sore point that needs to be clarified by whoever is responsible. Every political party is supposed to have values to which it, and its members, particularly those in Parliament who represent it, are supposed to uphold, sometimes admittedly at a cost.

Religio e patria, although they sound ancient and unfashionable to some, have been considered by many as very much basic principles of the Nationalist Party. Throughout its long history, in opposition and in government, the party has shown that it is an advanced, progressive (sometimes even liberal) political party that thrives in the middle ground of political orientation but never at the expense of its fundamental values, even if temporary political convenience seems so to dictate.

Dr Ugo Mifsud, leader of the Nationalist Party and, at the time, newly elected Prime Minister of Malta after winning overwhelmingly the general election of 1933, stated in London while leading a government delegation: “The Maltese are deeply attached to their traditions and national institutions”. Undoubtedly, one of Malta’s main “institutions” that Dr Mifsud had in mind, as stated many times by himself and the party he represented, was the Church which was, and remains up to this day, deeply rooted in Maltese life and culture.

Almost exactly 30 years later, Dr George Borg Olivier, his successor as leader of the party and then also newly elected as Prime Minister of Malta, stated at the Malta Independence Conference in Marlborough House in 1963 that the most sacred values of the Maltese nation were “freedom and Christian civilisation”.

The position of Eddie Fenech Adami, the esteemed successor of these two distinguished leaders, need not be repeated here since it is well known by all. Religio e patria are, indeed, the two columns on which the party has stood since its very foundation. Dr Pullicino Orlando argues that a number of pro-divorce candidates had been accepted by the executive committee of the party for the local council elections, as well as the general and EP elections, giving the impression thereby that the party had become a kind of rainbow political movement encompassing within its ambit all and sundry, notwithstanding even radical divergence from the party’s long-standing root beliefs.

Undoubtedly, there is an element of truth in what Dr Pullicino Orlando states. Facts speak for themselves.

The question that needs to be asked and answered, especially now in the face of an imminent referendum on the introduction of divorce (and maybe even other more critical issues of a moral and social nature that may crop up in the not too distant future) is: Where does the party now stand in all this?

Is Dr Pullicino Orlando correct in stating that since he and others of similar mind have been officially included in the party’s electoral ticket then this is tantamount to their radical ideas being also accepted? This is the gist of the whole argument.

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