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Craving for sense, direction

The Nationalist Party has concluded a week-long general council that was intended to draw up a plan for the future. It is good that the party goes back to its roots, for it has been out of orbit for far too long.

Party leader Adrian Delia is a change from his predecessor, Simon Busuttil. He came from outside the party and won by a popular vote among party members who wanted a break from the past. Clearly, he can reach out to those voters but that is obviously not enough.

Dr Delia is up against an evidently immensely popular Prime Minister. But Joseph Muscat seems to have lost the plot since the idealism he promoted in 2013, which should be an opportunity for Dr Delia. The government is mired with maladministration and very serious allegations of corruption.

The worst that Dr Delia can do is offer the same. His ‘new way’ cannot be a Nationalist version of Labour. The country does not deserve that.

Statements like those made by deputy leader Robert Arrigo, that Labour could win a two-thirds parliamentary majority do not impress, even if the threat may be real. It is not a way to unite the party behind its leader. Fear does not unite, vision does.

PN general secretary Clyde Puli described Dr Delia as a man who was close to the people, who had principles and vision. He certainly comes across successfully with people, he has shown principles on issues like the IVF amendments but, so far, he does not convey vision.

The going for Dr Delia has not been good with the parliamentary group and there are swarms of pro-Daphne Caruana Galizia supporters who are not sympathetic of him. With some element of success at the next local council and European Parliament elections, Dr Delia may bring the parliamentary group in line. The ‘Daphne’ crowd is more difficult and they constitute a significant part of the Nationalist vote.

To reach out to them is not easy, given Ms Caruana Galizia’s writings on Dr Delia at the time of his election as party leader. He still must bring them into the fold because there are many people who, like them, are sick of the way the country is run, sick of the international slaughter of Malta’s reputation, sick of being treated like gullible idiots.

Dr Delia may need to consider a change in his team, to bring in someone who appeals and speaks to those people that meet each month at the provisional Daphne memorial in Valletta.

He must also reach out to the many disillusioned voters and he can do this successfully only if he avoids reactionary xenophobia and trying to reach back to a past that is now gone.

His platform must be new. He needs to offer solutions to greedy overdevelopment, to housing problems, to the growing rift between rich and poor and come up with an economic policy that does not make the country look like a pirate island.

Given the rapid and unpredictable changes that have taken place in the country over the last few years, Dr Delia must offer the country the security of medium- and long-term planning compatible with the country’s realities, and most of all, he must offer hope.

This is a Times of Malta print editorial

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