Saturday’s elections would mark the ‘end of the beginning’ for the PN, Opposition leader Adrian Delia said on Thursday, borrowing a phrase from Winston Churchill.

As of Monday, he told a Net TV interviewer, the Nationalist Party would embark on a fresh process where it would analyse what it had learnt and channel it to its programme for an alternative government.

Dr Delia said the past 20 months since he became PN leader had been a journey during which he had the privilege to meet people from all walks of life to discuss their needs and their view of what the country needed.

He had discussed all sort of things, such as the people’s complaints that salaries and pensions were inadequate, how rents had gone through the roof and how students were learning things they did not need, but not getting the right skills of the 20th century.

Many complained about how Malta was losing its character. And despite the country becoming more populated and congested, some spoke about their solitude.  

In the health sector, while the PN would continue to speak about the Vitals scandal, he had also heard complaints about the medicines the people had to buy and about shortcomings in the care of cancer patients, or those who suffered diabetes or fibromyalgia, among others.   

The same applied in the energy sector. On the national plane, the party spoke about the Electrogas power station scandal, but the people were also concerned about how they were being robbed through the billing system, something the PN was determined to address.

There were a myriad of other problems, not least in Gozo.

The PN in government, Dr Delia said, had been at its best in safeguarding the country’s interests and reputation, but it may have distanced itself from the individual people’s interests. His task, therefore, was to take the party to the people, where it was born and where it grew. The party’s ultimate aim was to serve the people, without succumbing to populism.

Dr Delia hit out at the present government for blaming everyone and anyone but never assuming responsibility when issues cropped up.

A case in point was the recent racially-motivated migrant murder. In any other democracy, the responsible minister would have offered his resignation. But in Malta this government was not even saying what one of the soldiers allegedly involved had been convicted of before, when he was still allowed to serve in the army.

Similarly, following the damning Council of Europe report on the rule of law in Malta, the prime minister set about criticising its author and the Council of Europe itself. 

The country was facing a situation where the government was attempting to monopolise the media and selling a reality which was fake.

Dr Delia urged all eligible voters to pick up their votes in the few remaining hours and to do their duty on Saturday. This was the moment when the people could really have their say in a democracy. Joseph Muscat would still be prime minister on Sunday, but the people could change the direction of this country by trimming the government’s arrogance and opposing issues such as abortion, which the European socialists wanted to see introduced as a ‘right’ in all European countries.

Not voting would amount to a vote for the government, Dr Delia said.

End of campaign rally

Dr Delia later closed the PN campaign by addressing a rally before an enthusiastic crowd which chanted: Delia hu il-mexxej. He insisted that the PN had to be close to the people not play with numbers or take over the institutions, as the government was bent on doing. 

He said he was proud that the PN was one party, a united team. It was not a team which was telling the people 'come with us' but it was saying 'we are with you and for you,' he said to cheering.

The PN, he said, was the party of Europe and the party which stood by its values. 

An apology

In his speech Dr Delia said the PN had made mistakes and it was apologising to all those who were hurt, those who were forgotten, ignored after serving the country or not given an effective remedy after suffering injustice.

"We have made mistakes. I am not here to say how good or great I am but to apologise and to say we are ready to rebuild and to become the party that deserves the people's respect," he said.

He said that his promise was that the party would humbly seek to understand the people's difficulties and plan the country's future. He urged people to come forward with their ideas and proposals, stressing that the door was open to everyone.