Bernard Grech has warned he will only be able to carry out the necessary changes within the Nationalist Party if he is given a strong mandate in the leadership vote.

Grech is in a one-horse race to retain the leadership and will face a confirmatory vote in two weeks' time.

Typically, such votes see the incumbent attract upwards of 90% of the vote, with a lower tally potentially indicating discontent with Grech’s leadership by the party’s councillors.

Speaking during a NET FM phone-in, Grech said certain tough decisions could no longer be postponed.

Grech said that during his first year-and-a-half of leadership, he had already addressed certain urgent priorities to improve the party’s organisational structure and ensured it was prepared for the election campaign.

He said the next phase is strengthening the party’s finances, which have been a drag on its operations.

Grech recently revealed that the PN’s debts had ballooned to €32 million.

This means the party starts every year with a €2 million cashflow headache just to sustain these debts.

Discipline by party members

Grech said the need for discipline by party members was a regular topic of concern raised during discussions he has with PN councillors.

Former MP Jason Azzopardi quit the party after a public spat with Grech earlier this month, and St Julian’s mayor Albert Buttigieg has also opened his cannons on the party over claims an unnamed PN official conspired with a “fat cat” to silence him.

Grech said the PN is a party with a proud history, and people are fed up seeing it being treated like a doormat.

He said going public to “attack” the party can never be done with good intentions, as people know internal structures exist for such matters.

Grech said everyone needs to be united in their efforts to improve the party.

He said despite the general election loss, the PN has managed to regenerate and unite a “renewed” parliamentary group.

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