Today, Nationalist Party councillors cast their vote in a defining moment in the party’s history. Today, party councillors will decide whether they want to retain the status quo, or whether they want to empower the party to change direction.

I have been in the party long enough to acknowledge that the problems we have today did not crop up yesterday, neither did they magically appear three years ago. They have been slowly accumulating long before then. But rather than tackling them with a solution, we have let them fester with inaction.

Worse, we have poisoned the wound by adopting Labour’s propaganda and made it our own. We have labelled some of our own as “old guard”, others as the “elite”, the “establishment” and “ignorant”.

This cannot go on.

As a teenager I had always looked at the Nationalist Party as a leading, professional, policy-based political force.

I first got interested in politics during the campaign for EU mem­bership. At the time, my ge­neration did not just think of the EU as a club to join. We view­ed it as a holistic system of values, ideals, standards we be­lieved our country deserved to achieve.

It was a cultural shift, away from the insularity and mediocrity of the past, and onwards towards openness, inclusion, and better democratic norms.

We now realise we never really got there. Our dream was cut short by cynicism, by those who told us we are too small; that our mentality, our culture, can never change.

But that resignation, that cynicism, is what allowed our country to slip back to the ways of the past. Corruption is the norm.

State institutions do not function. Journalists are bullied. Political murders and frame-ups have reared up their heads again.

Over the past two years, like my parents before me, I had to be out on the streets, protesting together with many other young people and activists. We were denouncing corruption, fighting off the Mafia, standing up to the network of organised crime that has taken hold of our institutions. We will keep going till we bring it all down.

But bringing it down once is not going to be enough. It is now time we come together to construct its replacement.

I yearn for a Nationalist Party that can continue the ‘European’ project we started years ago. Our mentality too can slowly change. We dream­ed Europe then, but we stopp­ed half way. Let’s dream Eu­rope again. Culturally and not just economically.

I yearn for a Nationalist Party that stands for universal values of honesty, transparency, accountability, political respon­sibility, good governance and social justice, but which is not stuck to expired dogmas.

When watching a collision in slow motion, it is our duty to change course now

I yearn for a Nationalist Party that places the environment at the forefront, and which measures the success of our quality of life not just by the money we rake in but by the clean air we breathe.

I yearn for a Nationalist Party that can once again re-instil a love for the common good, as opposed to the individualistic amoral familism which has taken over.

I yearn for a Nationalist Party that is a continuous producer of evidence-based policies and scientifically-researched proposals.

I yearn for a Nationalist Party that is once again at the forefront of technology and digital innovation.

I yearn for a Nationalist Party that rebuilds our institutions as functioning, indepen­dent, public-serving bodies which fulfil their roles without political interference.

I yearn for a Nationalist Party that welcomes all: those to our left, who want an end to the system of corporate-funded pseudo-democracy which serves those who finance it the most before those who need it most; and those to our right, who want a free market where competition is fair and not based on political connections and bribes;  the workers, who need a guaranteed protection of their  rights to sustain their livelihood and to end their precariousness; the environmentalists, who believe our environment and ecology are a common heritage we need to protect for our children; and  the nationalists, who believe our identity, our traditions, our language and our heritage need to be cherished and safeguarded.

I yearn for a Nationalist Party that feels like home to all; from the manual labourer to the warranted professional, from the employee to the business owner, from the passion-driven youngster to the experienced pensioner.

I yearn for a Nationalist Party that once again leads and shows the way with persuasion and determination.

But to be all this we must change ourselves. We must be able to win elections. We cannot succumb to an inevitable electoral loss just to satisfy personal piques.

When watching a collision in slow motion, it is our duty to change course now rather than resign ourselves to changing the car after it happens.

And then we need to heal, grow, regroup and reorganise. And we can do it together.

A new generation is waiting in the back seat, and this new generation has had enough of politicians using the party for their personal vendettas, for their own ego trips, or to indulge the chips on their shoulders. It has had enough of politicians squabbling about historical grudges or reminiscing about long-lost glory days.

My generation has had enough of being told about our past. It is time we are allowed to shape our future.

Mark Anthony Sammut, PN executive member

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