With almost 70 general election candidates already approved and more in the pipeline, the Nationalist Party’s renewal process is moving at a very fast pace, according to general secretary Francis Zammit Dimech.

“We are gearing the party for the forthcoming general election where we will be presenting a refreshed image of the party, giving the electorate a wider choice and a healthy mix of people to choose from,” he said.

The party’s executive committee has been steadily approving general election candidates for months. Apart from the sitting MPs, who have an automatic right to contest the next general election, the committee has approved a list of around 40 individuals, half of whom will be contesting the election for the first time. The list includes people serving as local councillors and others who are entering the political arena for the first time.

Among those featuring on the list of fresh faces are lawyers Joe Giglio, Silvio Brincat and Darren Carabott, journalist James Aaron Ellul, Qormi councillor and NET FM presenter Jerome Caruana Cilia, engineer Rebekah Cilia, banker David Pace Ross, accountant Graham Bencini, Mellieħa local councillor Ivan Castillo and PN Youth Movement president Joseph Grech. Other new faces include Owen Sciberras, Anton Mifsud, Josephine Xuereb, Tiffany Abela Wadge and Alex Borg.

Other names who have already contested an election include PN executive president Alex Perici Calascione, former MP Paula Mifsud Bonnici, lawyers Errol Cutajar, Alessia Psaila Zammit, Angelo Micallef and Janice Chetcuti, electrical engineer Mark Anthony Sammut, St Julian’s and Swieqi mayors Albert Buttigieg and Noel Muscat, former St Paul’s Bay mayor Graziella Galea and businessman Ivan Bartolo, who gave up his parliamentary seat for party leader Bernard Grech.

I am very encouraged by the enthusiasm these candidates have shown so far

“I am very encouraged by the enthusiasm these candidates have shown so far. There are those who we have head-hunted but others who approached the party themselves, saying they were willing to give the party a helping hand. This is all part of the party’s renewal and is an exercise at strengthening democracy,” Zammit Dimech said.

He said the party had also undertaken renewal at all branches and was now in the process of starting the renewal process of its sectional committees, which had to be delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nationalist Party MP Claudio Grech has been pushing for sitting MPs, especially those who have served through a number of legislatures, to consider stepping aside to make space for newcomers as part of the party’s renewal process.

The PN executive committee meeting had taken a unanimous vote last year, urging sitting MPs to step out of the political arena and instead put their weight behind a promising up-and-coming politician who promises to bring a fresh impetus to the party, with new ideas and additional energy. PN insiders are dubbing this as a “silent revolution”.

Asked whether this was happening, Zammit Dimech said democracy was all about giving people the choice.

“If they wanted to ditch the old and go for the new, they had the possibility to do so.”

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