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No holidays for Nationalists

Today, Nationalist Party councillors are once again summoned to cast their votes in four elections. The two deputy leaders, the president of the general council and the 13 members of the executive have to be elected.

This is indeed an important day for the party.

On his election as party leader, Simon Busuttil immediately declared his intention of having a leadership team rather than a sole leader to head the party. In line with his promise, the party leader wasted no time to push forward the idea of having two deputy leaders instead of the usual one.

People will return to our party when they convince themselves that we have changed

There is a lot of work to be done. The road is not smooth and the party needs all hands on deck.

Today’s elections could therefore be regarded as the second part of the renewal process that the PN is going through. In a week’s time the new secretary general and the remaining administrative vacancies will be filled by another set of elections within the executive committee. So, by the first week of June the party’s new administration will be in place.

Then what, one may ask. What should the new leadership team focus on first?

There are a number of matters that should be addressed without delay. The precarious financial situation is one. Our leader has already indicated that a team of competent individuals will be looking into the matter. The party must come up with a plan. We have to take stock of the situation and start a restructuring programme without delay. In this respect, I strongly believe that the statutory post of treasurer should be split in two: a financial controller and a chief fundraiser.

The role of the party’s financial controller must be independent of the party’s commercial arm and his role should be solely to manage the party’s finances.

On his part, the chief fundraiser’s role should be to organise fundraising activities and coordinate the mass activities such as the Independence Day festivities.

The party ought to restart holding popular activities that it had introduced 30 years ago and which it had stopped doing while in office. The popular Fiera tal-Ħut (fish fair) comes to mind straightaway. The PN has been the catalyst of introducing many such events. They were popular activities that served for the party leader and the administration to meet the people in a social environment. They were also a means for the party to be present in towns and villages.

Such activities are not outdated. In fact, over the last few years they have flourished. The only difference is that the PN stopped holding them and left space for other organisations to take ownership.

A strong membership campaign should also be launched and the chief fundraiser must be the person responsible to lead the army of committee members to reach every street in Malta and Gozo.

On the political front, the party has a number of challenges.

The first electoral test is in a year’s time. The MEP elections will be our first milestone. I do not think the party should wait too long to introduce the candidates. I say a few weeks. Summer is an important time because village feasts offer a great opportunity for candidates (and the party leadership) to mingle with the people.

The party media should also take precedence. The winter’s programme schedule is at this very moment being planned by all other stations.

The winter schedule is the one that will cover the period October-May, during which we will have an election campaign. Net TV and Radio 101 will have an important role to play and getting the schedule right and on time is of paramount importance.

During the party leader and deputy leaders’ election campaigns, which I followed closely, much was said about opening the party’s doors. Every contestant made it clear that his priority is to open up our doors.

As much as we open our doors we cannot expect to have queues waiting to walk in. We have to reach out and knock on the doors of those whom we have not knocked for many years. We have to knock the doors that have been shut in our faces.

As Beppe Fenech Adami stressed during his campaign, when the party speaks about opening its doors, it is not only referring to the headquarters doors but also the doors of our hearts and our minds.

We, as a party, have to acknowledge what has been done wrong. We cannot expect those who voted Labour for the first time to say: “Sorry, I was wrong.”

People will return to our party when they convince themselves that we have changed. They will return when they convince themselves that we have changed because of their message in the last election.

Summer is round the corner. It is usually the season to relax and holiday. The party has a lot to do over the next three months. There will definitely be no holiday season for the PN this year.

Herman Schiavone is a candidate for the election of the Nationalist Party’s executive committee.

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