The true popular party - Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici
In my last contribution to this newspaper, I had affirmed that our Nationalist Party has an identifying character which is that of a ‘national’, ‘Christian democrat’, ‘popular’ party. As such, it is not a right-wing, conservative party and neither is it a liberal, laissez-faire party. Nor is it ‘populist’ or worse.
This does not, however, mean that the party has not reached the vote of conservatives, liberals, populists and others, especially, but not only, during the independence referendum of 1964 and the EU accession referendum of 2003. Although the party takes its inspiration from Christian Democratic principles, we have atheist, agnostic and Muslim friends who have voted Nationalist, for various good reasons.
The party commands a majority when it reflects the country as a whole. But it acts to form the majority opinion which it then represents. The majority, in 1981, was the result of the opinions ‘formed’ in the long campaigns that started from the very first day after the debacle of 1971.
The consensus within the party was achieved after the serious dissensions in 1974, in connection with the agreement that led to the proclamation of the Republic, were healed and when Eddie Fenech Adami was elected ‘successor leader’.
The strength of a mass democratic party as ourselves is that it always finds a way out of serious internal cleavages, through respect of its free democratic process. Together with some good sense and the balm of common ideals.
We know that we are now faced with a government which feels free from many of the traditional ethical strictures and consistencies. It still calls itself a socialist party while declaring it is business friendly and, perhaps, business oriented.
The circumstances are adverse but the harder they seem, the stronger our determination to change and remove the rot
It has utilised the membership of the European Union it once sought to prevent in ways not always consonant with the ideals of the Union. It has had no qualms about selling Maltese citizenship to a wide variety of people for a variety of motives. It has dealt in a very partisan way (friends of friends) with appointments to some of both the highest and the lowest positions in the State.
It has dismissed serious allegations against some of the members of the government without proper respect for sensible public opinion. The ‘spoils’ system has been further discredited by the way that continuity in many institutions of the State has been wilfully disregarded.
We are faced with a list of challenges. Our project, however, is not a simple return to a ‘good’ past. In 1987, we did not return to 1971. Neither will we, in the next general election, aim to return to 2013. We, as a nation, have to regain the ground lost but we also have to advance into areas we had not covered during the leadership of the last Nationalist administration. Malta was once admired and envied for its judiciary, the civil service, the police, social services, communications and the general tenor in administration.
All this, is, substantially still possible to bring back and maintain because the damage that the institutions have suffered since 2013 may still be remediable. It is not, however, just enough to salvage what is still there. We have to apply further strengthening measures.
This is our mission. To this we are committed steadfastly. The circumstances are adverse but the harder they seem, the stronger our determination to change and remove the rot.
Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici is Nationalist Party spokesman for foreign affairs and trade promotion.
This is a Times of Malta print opinion piece