The Nationalist Party is urging its sitting MPs, especially those who have served through several legislatures, to consider stepping aside to make space for newcomers as part of the party’s renewal process.
In a recent PN executive committee meeting, a unanimous vote was taken to urge 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.
The transfusion of new blood is what PN insiders are dubbing as a “silent revolution”, through which the party would present itself for the next general election as a fresh group, including through a radical shake-up of its electoral front-line.
Party insiders said it was “shameful” that the party’s youngest MP – Ryan Callus – was 37 years old. The average age of the PN parliamentary group is around 55 years.
Sources said it was MP Claudio Grech who has been pushing the matter over a series of executive committee meetings throughout the last 18 months, starting from Adrian Delia’s tenure.
Both present party leader Bernard Grech and his predecessor, have strongly supported Claudio Grech’s stance, the sources said.
Party insiders said the matter was once again debated at length during party executive meetings when the party’s candidate line-up was on the agenda.
One of the first lists of candidates proposed by general secretary Francis Zammit Dimech was mainly composed of sitting MPs and candidates who had previously contested elections but failed to get elected.
Sources said the number of new and young candidates was initially “a handful”. A second list included ‘younger’ and newer faces like Mark Anthony Sammut, Joe Giglio, Graham Bencini and Jerome Caruana Cilia.
We have to take a step back and make space to allow new candidates to gain ground
Claudio Grech urged the executive to rethink its approach and position new talent at the top of its agenda in enlisting candidates. He argued that if the party wanted to improve its electability, it should give prominence to new candidates and the younger ones who were willing to make a commitment to the party.
The executive committee unanimously agreed that sitting MPs should give due consideration to the appeal and decide whether they wanted to create space for a newer line-up.
When contacted, Grech confirmed he had been pushing this change of approach for more than 18 months as he felt it was crucial for the party.
“We have to take a step back and make space to allow new candidates to gain ground with the electorate to clearly demonstrate that we are regenerating ourselves,” he said, adding that the election of Delia and Grech as party leaders when both were outsiders to the political arena, showed how people were yearning for change.
“We need to push the younger generation forward. And by pushing them forward I mean providing the space, exposure and media presence for them to get elected and not just to have another name on the ballot sheet. We already started the regeneration process under Delia, through the creation of clusters. Now we need to continue working to attract more talent to the party,” he said.
According to the party statute, MPs are automatically eligible to serve as candidates in the next general election unless they are specifically blocked on disciplinary grounds.