Top PN figures noncommittal over leadership

Beppe Fenech Adami rules himself out

From left: Roberta Metsola, Chris Said and Claudio Grech.

From left: Roberta Metsola, Chris Said and Claudio Grech.

Claudio Grech, Roberta Metsola and Chris Said have adopted a wait-and-see approach as the Nationalist Party embarks on its search for a new leader.

With the PN executive expected to meet this week to lay out the rules of the contest and the timelines for the selection process, the three potential contenders were coy about their personal ambitions.

Read: Simon Busuttil steps down as PN leader after crushing defeat

Meanwhile, PN deputy leader for party affairs Beppe Fenech Adami has completely ruled out contesting the leadership. He answered with a curt “no” when asked yesterday, as he joined PN leader Simon Busuttil and deputy leader Mario de Marco in reconfirming his decision to step aside.

Dr Said, 46, a lawyer, said he was talking to various people to understand what they wanted the PN to be and the type of leadership qualities they expected.

“I am considering all options as I evaluate how best to serve the party in these difficult circumstances,” the MP from Gozo said when asked whether he was interested in the top job or in any of the two deputy leader roles.

Mr Grech and Dr Metsola also played the cautious card but their replies outlined what could easily be their potential leadership campaign platforms.

Mr Grech said that over the last few days he had been contacted by a large number of people, encouraging him to consider contesting the leadership.

“This encouragement came from within the party structures, from its grassroots, but even more importantly from a large number of PN voters who are on the fringes and across civil society,” he said.

I learnt to take whatever I do in life in a step-by-step fashion and not by leaps and bounds

Mr Grech, 42, a change management entrepreneur, was elected on the first district for the second time in as many elections on June 3.

“To be frank, this [the leadership question] was not something in my plans. I learnt to take whatever I do in life in a step-by-step fashion and not by leaps and bounds,” he said.

Outlining the agenda of his parliamentary work, Mr Grech said he planned to bring to the fore issues such as poverty, lack of adequate housing, “the scourge” of drugs, illiteracy and elderly living in misery.

Acknowledging these were tough times for the PN, Mr Grech disagreed with what he described as “nonsense going around” that the party had to be rebuilt. “You rebuild what is demolished and the PN is anything but demolished.”

Mr Grech said the focus at this stage had to be what the PN should stand for as it moved forward and what attributes should the leadership team have to transform it back into a popular party.

“Where I fit in all of this is yet to be seen but in any case this will not be the reflection of personal ambition but of what is in the best interests of what the PN stands for,” he said.

In a similar vein, Dr Metsola, 38, an MEP, said the current priority was to understand the electorate’s message, heal the PN and come together as a country.

This was the moment for the PN to reflect on where it stood as a political movement, where it wanted Malta to go and how it planned to take her there, she added.

“Focusing only on who the next leader of the PN will be is missing the wood for the trees,” she said, warning that leadership contests were “great at papering over cracks”.

She outlined her vision of politics as a tool to make people’s lives easier by adopting a rights-based approach and building a society with “sound economic drivers, new spheres of activity that benefit everyone and push equality forward. Politics is sometimes trench warfare, sometimes consensus and compromise, but we can and we will get there. We can make Malta a shining city on a hill but not without a colossal overhaul of our critical institutions first. They must be the foundations upon which all else is built.”

Dr Metsola said the PN had many capable people determined to serve in the “rebuilding”, adding that she would “definitely be there on the journey of renewal”.

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