The Nationalist Party establishment is opposing, in a most capricious and impulsive manner, the nomination of a widely respected former chief justice to the post of standards commissioner.

A few weeks ago, Prime Minister Robert Abela explained that an agreement had been reached with Opposition leader Bernard Grech to nominate Joseph Azzopardi for the role of commissioner and Judge Joseph Zammit McKeon for the role of ombudsman. Thereafter, however, the Nationalist Party publicly stated that it opposed Azzopardi’s nomination.

In parliament, Abela explained how, during their meeting, the PN leader said that while he would rather have the two candidates be nominated in the opposite roles, that is, Zammit McKeon as standards commissioner and Azzopardi as ombudsman, he could nonetheless “live with the chosen names”.

Grech then backtracked on his decision, quite unsurprisingly, I would say, as he most likely had to succumb to internal pressure from the PN’s establishment – the albatross around the PN’s neck.

Yet, the opposition has said that it would vote for Azzopardi as ombudsman, a role that is not only constitutional but is also known to carry a much bigger case load than that of the commissioner for standards in public life.

I am highlighting this to showcase just how inconsistent the Nationalist Party’s attitude is and this inconsistency is rampant across the board.

Dare I say, it even symbolises what the PN establishment today stands for. In their view, democracy means that they have their way. I am confident Adrian Delia knows this all too well.

The PN’s establishment is stuck in a mindset that led to the party suffering successive defeats at the polls.

Their toxic attitude and our-way-or-the-highway frame of mind are abundantly clear and are only deepening and worsening.

In a statement, the Nationalist Party chose to engage further in their usual partisan gimmicks and even had the audacity to state that they had ‘nominated’, among others, “former Speaker Dr Miriam Spiteri Debono for the post of Standards Commissioner”.

This led to Spiteri Debono pouring cold water on the PN’s statement and, whilst turning down the ‘offer’, she also stated that she “had not been consulted by Nationalist Party leader Bernard Grech or anyone within the party before her name was officially put forward”.

It is clear to us why they acted in this way: their nomination was not a genuine one but, rather, a political manoeuvre that did not go down well. In a nutshell, the PN ended up with the proverbial egg on its face. Their unhealthy embrace of partisan gimmicks reveals a political party that has lost its way and most certainly the plot as well.

Yet, while the opposition keeps up its political bickering in such sensitive situations, it is evidently clear that they fail to grasp and understand what we are actually proposing and thus resort to the usual tactic of scaremongering.

The anti-deadlock mechanism will be introduced to address situations in which the effort to garner a two-thirds majority in a vote results in two failed consecutive voting rounds and, as a result, a majority is not reached.

The mechanism is necessary to prevent the opposition from blocking the appointment of a key parliamentary official for partisan reasons- Glenn Bedingfield

With an opposition party literally in tatters, led by the nose by its destructive establishment, the government had to act. The mechanism is necessary to prevent the opposition from blocking the appointment of a key parliamentary official for partisan reasons, yet the PN’s establishment is crying foul and releasing repetitive press statements against the anti-deadlock mechanism.

Perhaps key figures from the PN need to be reminded that both the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission as well as former PN leader Simon Busuttil had already proposed introducing anti-deadlock mechanisms into law. In its electoral manifesto, the Nationalist Party itself proposed this system to be applied for all important state roles.

This divided party faces a long road back to credibility.

It has become the party of disorder and cheap electoral gimmicks, constantly prone to shooting itself in the foot.

It is expected, and democracy demands, that an opposition party opposes the government whenever it deems fit and to do so even vociferously if need be. But the bitterly divided Nationalist Party is unable to do so in a consistent and credible manner.

Grech says one thing, only to be overturned by a handful of his MPs and their bedfellows follow suit shortly afterwards.

What is truly unfortunate about all this is the fact that Grech doesn’t mind losing face because his main priority is to keep clinging to his seat – scared that if he irks his party’s establishment, he will follow in his predecessor’s footsteps.

Lest we forget how Delia was unceremoniously unseated by the establishment to place Grech in his stead.

The PN leader is yet another puppet PN leader, devoid of any moral authority and who sold his autonomy to his party’s establishment.

The stench of entitlement by the PN’s establishment is now oozing from Pietà.

Glenn Bedingfield is a Labour MP

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