Claudio Grech’s Nationalist Party regeneration plan has found the support of stalwarts and various members of the parliamentary group some of whom had supported Adrian Delia’s leadership bid, according to sources.
Named ‘Project Fusion’, the recommendations are meant to open up the party structures to other players in a bid to reach out to sectors of society who do not identify themselves with the PN.
Under this reform, the party leader’s role will no longer be “the be-all and end-all” while there will only be one deputy leader who will be given higher status. There will also be dedicated structures focusing exclusively on drafting the party’s policy and reaching out to society and the media and in charge of finances.
The proposal suggests the general secretary would assume a less political role to focus on administrative matters and MPs would be banned from requesting or collecting donations.
Asked for the latest developments, Mr Grech declined to go into details but said he would keep striving to spark an internal debate for meaningful change, which paved the way to eradicate what he described as the “tribalism in our political system”.
“Over the last weeks, I spoke to many young men and women who are willing to be part of an open PN which embraces a vision for our country which is not blemished by the colours of two tribes,” he said.
PN insiders who spoke on condition of anonymity said that Mr Grech’s proposals were complementary to the new PN statute being proposed by Dr Galea as they believed that this could provide the party with a fresh outlook to come out from its current woes.
Sources close to Dr Delia said these reforms could actually help the PN leader to leave his mark but warned that stalling the “life-saving surgery” in favour of a handful of cosmetic changes would be a recipe for further disasters.
‘Reforms alone won’t work’ – Franco Debono
No restructuring exercise can succeed unless the Nationalist Party makes a genuine effort to bring back to the fold those who had been “unfairly sidelined” in the past and give them room to work, according to former PN MP Franco Debono.
“The PN has failed to make any inroads for a decade and has been in decline since the 2009 MEP election, when I had already sounded the alarm bells,” he pointed out.
Dr Debono’s only term in Parliament had ended in controversy 2013 when he had voted against the Budget, effectively bringing down his own government.
Seven years down the line, his relationship with the party has mellowed amid suggestions that his reinstatement would convey a very strong message on the PN’s resolve to bring back thousands of disgruntled supporters who had switched to Labour.
“The only reform needed right now is that those whose time is up must make way for new blood as otherwise it will be all in vain,” he said.
In this respect, Dr Debono said Prime Minister Robert Abela was leading by example as he had promoted several young MPs to Cabinet. Furthermore, he drew parallels with Dr Abela’s father, George, who in 1998 had left the party after clashing with the leadership, only for his son to become an MP and subsequently leader.
“Can the PN learn to forget past differences and look forward?” he asked.
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