I am not being original when I describe the party to which I have the honour to belong, as a ‘popular’ party, in all senses of the word.

As a matter of fact, it belongs to the family of European ‘Popular Parties’, and has been, time and again, during the past 150 years, the party, favoured with the vote by sizeable proportions of the people of Malta and Gozo.

It is composed, as is the whole Maltese population, of a ‘mosaic’ of people from all social classes, all areas, many religious beliefs and from a wide range of ideological inclinations. Throughout the years of our historical parliamentary experience (1921 to date) it has enjoyed either ‘majority status’ or carried the responsibility of being the principal minority party.

Its presence in the Maltese political arena even pre-dates self-government.

Indeed, it was the party agitating for ‘self-government’ before it was the party that successfully negotiated our Independence as well as our country’s accession to the European Union. These are, however, laurels on which our present leadership cannot rest.

At present, ours is the alternative, the ‘Opposition’ party. We do not, however, conceive our task in Opposition as being merely that of opposing and providing an alternative. We have again a “project of government and governance” to propose for majority endorsement.

As with self-government, Independence and accession to the European Union, today our party has a leadership role; we have to persuade the majority of the Maltese electorate that our ‘project’ stands to be adopted. We were successful in the past, albeit with great expenditure of effort and patience.

Our self-government was wrested from the Imperial Government, after loss of blood in June 1919.

Our Indepen­dence was won without loss of blood but after long years of agitation, but also by taking full advantage of changes in the world situation.

For more than 70 years, the Nationalists had been demanding independence before it was finally achieved in 1964.

Despite the difficulties, we remain committed to the service to our country, as the popular party we have always been

In the late 1980s and 1990s, it seemed that the government of Eddie Fenech Adami had embarked on the labours of Sisyphus, in those efforts at persuading, first the Maltese public, as well as, secondly, the European Union, that it was in both the Maltese, as in the whole European Union’s interests, that our country should form part of that Union.

Our predecessors were not daunted by the difficulties encountered abroad, as with the diffidence of some fellow Maltese belonging to other parties.

George Borg Olivier and, perhaps much less, Fenech Adami, had also to cope with internal dissidence, but both, in the course of time, successfully strove on and achieved unity within the party, and victory at the polls and in the pursuit of policy.

Notwithstanding this process, which is normal in ‘popular’ democratically-run parties, the party remains, strong and steadfast. It continues to be a mass, popular party, which necessarily holds within the design of its mosaic, a gamut of ideological shades of opinions and inclinations within the component tesserae.

The party, however, has an identifying character, which is that of a ‘national’, ‘Christian democrat’, ‘popular’ party. As such it is not a right-wing conservative nor liberal party. Neither is it ‘populist’, or worse.

Because of the principles we hold dear, as well as fully instructed by the long and varied, political experience that we have gained, we do not lose heart biding our time on the Opposition benches.

Despite the difficulties, we remain committed to the service to our country, as the popular party we have always been.

Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici is Nationalist Party spokesman on foreign affairs and trade promotion.

This is a Times of Malta print opinion piece


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