Turning the tide together - Joe Zahra
The Nationalist Party is a great party that always produced great leaders with foresight and love for country. Today the party leader is Adrian Delia.
It is no secret that during the election for the present Nationalist Party leader I was for Chris Said. I made my views quite clear in this newspaper in September 2017. In that election, for the first time following an amendment to the party statute, all PN paid members had the chance and duty to vote for the leader. Delia obtained the majority of votes and was elected leader. Later Jean Pierre Debono relinquished his seat in Parliament and Delia was co-opted member of Parliament and leader of the Opposition.
He is the PN leader and we, party members and supporters, should follow him. Especially on the eve of such important elections for members of the European Parliament and the local councils. These are important elections and we should be united to obtain the best results.
It would be an injustice were the Labour Party to elect four MEPs out of six. It would be an injustice as Labour was against Malta’s accession to the European Union and put all the spokes in the wheels possible to keep us out.
The PN is a political party representing all shades of opinion, from left to right. That is why it is a national party and not a party catering for just one section of the electorate. The PN represents the workers, the pensioners and the business community. Everybody is welcome in our party.
This is why in the PN there are different opinions. It is not something of today. It was so in the past. I remember worse moments. I remember the 1960s when a section of the PN members rose up against the party leader George Borg Olivier. At that time the party split in two.
There were prominent members (who after the election of 1962 became ministers) who sat on the fence deciding which side to support late in the election campaign. With his political acumen, patience and charisma Borg Olivier united the vast majority of the Maltese electorate under the PN banner. He won the general elections of 1962 and 1966 and gave Malta its independence.
Whenever a political party chooses a leader it is bound to have different opinions about different politicians. When Eddie Fenech Adami was elected leader he was not supported by all the PN members as was the case with Lawrence Gonzi. But then the party, that is its members, united under the leader, whoever he was.
The Nationalist Party always had faith in the Maltese electorate. That faith steered Malta towards Independence, European Union accession and the eurozone
There are PN supporters who may decide not to vote in the forthcoming elections. Not voting is a vote for Labour and a guarantee that Labour increases its majority. If you want a greater Labour victory do not vote!
There are those may who decide to vote for the minor political parties, the parties that can never garner enough votes to be represented in the European Parliament. A vote for these parties will also be a vote for Labour and against the PN, which is the only party that can counter Labour.
There are those who see the present Labour majority as impossible to reduce. They see that majority as unassailable. I am one who followed the Independence referendum. The PN government started the referendum campaign, a very short two-month campaign, as the underdog.
At that time Malta’s economy was in tatters, the British Services were reducing their workforce, unemployment was at its worse, Maltese and Gozitans were emigrating by the thousands. I remember telling George Borg Olivier that we could never win that referendum. But he had faith in the Maltese electorate and was sure that if we explain what Independence meant for Malta and the Maltese, the referendum will be won. And the referendum was won.
Today, we still have more than two months to explain to the electorate what it means to be in the European Union and why the Nationalist Party, which is a member of the largest political group, the PPE, deserves to be represented in the European Parliament as much (if not more) than the Labour Party, which was against the European Union.
The PN is the party that always had faith in the Maltese electorate. That faith steered Malta towards Independence, the accession to the European Union and the eurozone. All three ingredients that changed our economy into one of the most vibrant in Europe.
Nationalist supporters should not lose heart. After all the PN was in government for 24 of the last 32 years. I am sure that if we all stick together we will turn the tide.
Joe Zahra is a former editor of the Nationalist Party daily In-Nazzjon Tagħna.
This is a Times of Malta print opinion piece