If Nationalist MPs are unable to see the painful disappointment in the eyes of people who voted for them last year and, possibly, many times before, then they were not worth electing. The situation is beyond embarrassing. It has become offensive.

We all know politicians suffer from inflated egos but there comes a point where egos and individuals do not matter, as is the situation now. The talk out there on the streets is that the party is coming close to committing hara-kiri. This has gone on for too long and is not what Nationalists want.

A good move by the party, done before the election, was the introduction of a more democratic system to elect a new leader. It did not really work. The so-called ‘old guard’ of the party could not even come up with their own leadership candidate. Adrian Delia won, and the grumbling just grew stronger from those who did not step forward to challenge him. One would have thought politics was vocational, not egocentric.

Dr Delia tried to take the party off on a new start. That he failed was not entirely his fault. Simon Busuttil had failed before him. Meanwhile, Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered, the country’s institutions went into free fall and the very rule of law came into question. The Nationalist Party looked on helpless, as ‘civil society’ tried to fill the void. Because that is what the PN had become, a void.

Now things have come to a head, again, over the Egrant inquiry. The party appears unable to handle it, putting itself into the spotlight, as Labour wanted.

The road ahead for the PN is uphill. The 40,000-vote majority Labour enjoys can be overcome because the political clans of old are fading. There cannot be 40,000 new Labourites on the island, just 40,000 voters willing to try Labour. They will need convincing and a shattered party convinces no one, not even its own people.

The biggest challenge ahead of the Nationalists is Labour’s successful economic model. It is not socialism and it is even more to the right than the Nationalists ever dared to go. And there lies Labour’s appeal, so long as the going is good.

The PN needs to work out alternative economic policies and, more importantly, sell them to voters. That is what the Nationalists want: vision and alternatives. Alternatives to the shameless selling of Maltese passports. Alternatives to the destruction of the natural and built heritage. They want to hear what alternatives exist to importing foreign workers, some to be exploited, to achieve economic growth where more people simply just produce more. They want to know what alternatives exist to a building boom that chokes their lives.

Nationalists need answers to overpopulation, to the traffic chaos and the pollution that comes with it and, yes, to the problems of political patronage and the inevitable corruption.

The PN has a long list of issues to address and people are willing to listen. If Dr Delia cannot get the party behind him, then he should just let go of the leadership.

It is not a charismatic leader the party needs the most but a team of thinkers, advisers and strategists that can read the signs of the times and deliver what Nationalists, the people and the country need.

This is a Times of Malta print editorial


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