Eyebrows raised at Michael Briguglio's bid to run for MEP

Activist was approached by the PN

Michael Briguglio is a PN MEP candidate.

Michael Briguglio is a PN MEP candidate.

Nationalist Party candidate for next year’s European Parliament elections Michael Briguglio has dismissed concerns of conflict of interest, insisting he has been involved in both politics and activism throughout his 25-year career.

It was announced last week that Dr Briguglio, a sociologist who has been heavily involved in civil society activism for many years, had been approached by the PN to contest the EP elections. The move raised eyebrows, as activists fear such a role could negatively impact the work carried out by activists.

Informed sources said that activists from various groups had for months expressed concern that Dr Briguglio should make his intentions clear and if he was to run for the MEP elections, he should step aside from activism.

The sources added that activists seem to have finally found their voice, working independently of political parties, something they feared that Dr Briguglio could no longer do now that he had formally accepted to run with the PN.

Similar concerns were also echoed by Partit Demokratiku deputy leader Timothy Alden who has insisted on social media that Dr Briguglio should resign from the Civil Society Network given his role in the PN. As an MEP candidate I intend to bridge the concerns of people and civil society with the EU

“Now Dr Briguglio is a PN MEP candidate, and the fact he is still leading Civil Society Network (CSN) is being sold as a plus. It is not. It is a conflict of interest which by association discredits other movements in the same group. It is not fair,” the PD deputy leader said.

Contacted about the claims, Dr Briguglio insisted that in the past 25 years, he has always combined party politics with civil society activism.

 “I did it openly and honestly, and it is not uncommon for a civil society activist to contest elections. Indeed various activists became prominent MEPs. As an MEP candidate I intend to bridge the concerns of people and civil society with the EU,” Dr Briguglio said, defending his decision to stay on as an active member of CSN.

Pressed about the concerns that there could be a conflict of interest if he continued to hold both roles, Dr Briguglio again reiterated that he has always combined politics and activism.

Asked what he would do in the case that CSN, which he co-founded, wanted to take a position against the PN, Dr Briguglio skirted the question, instead pointing out that there had been others before him who were both politicians and activists.

“If anything, I was honest and upfront about my roles. As regards CSN, I am a co-founder and I recused myself from addressing civil society protests quite some time ago, long before I was approached to pursue the MEP path. The fresher the faces at civil society demonstrations, the better,” Dr Briguglio went on, noting also that decisions within the CSN are “taken democratically by its executive and everyone has an equal say”.

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