The unity that the Nationalist party desperately needs may be more difficult to achieve if Opposition Leader Adrian Delia is re-elected as party leader, but the second candidate in the race, lawyer Bernard Grech, may not be seasoned enough to take on the role, pundits spoken to by The Malta Independent said.
The ongoing battle between the two aspiring leaders of the PN is expected to come to a close during this Saturday’s election where the votes of the party’s tesserati (paid members) will be counted and the winner is announced.
Over the past month of campaigning, there have been mixed signals regarding which candidate the tesserati would like to see take the role of PN leader. While Grech saw a massive rise in interest, there are still those who would like to see Delia hold his post.
The Malta Independent spoke with a number of pundits to get their opinion on what the future of the party would look like when either candidate is elected.
“If Delia makes a good showing, it would be more difficult to unite the party,” former Sunday Times of Malta Editor Laurence Grech said, pointing out that while Bernard Grech has said on record that he will do his best to unite the party while Delia has mentioned that he would not work with those who are against him.
He believes that the so-called rebels would not be as welcoming seeing that Delia has burnt his bridges with them and mentioned he wants to see new faces in the party – “anything can happen, but the chances of a split is greater.”
He added that if Grech wins some people will still reluctantly have to return to the fold especially if Delia, as Grech has said, will be given a role in the party. However, if Delia is willing to work with Grech it may persuade his loyal followers to stay too.
Former PN MP Paula Mifsud Bonnici believes that “any leader who does not have the trust of their party, should not be leading it.”
She explained that unfortunately, the party did not move one inch forward in the past three years, and going backwards instead. This indicates that the PN needs a change in leadership.
“I am hoping that if Grech is elected, he does not do what Delia did and do what Delia did not do. We need to have all hands-on deck, we should not be the party chucking out people and not letting others in,” Bonnici said.
A former PN MP who insisted to comment under anonymity also pointed out the PN’s lack of progress and strongly believes that Delia has to go.
“Having said that, in no way am I impressed with Grech,” they added. “I think the PN is making yet another mistake in taking a shooting star on board as a leader as much as it was a mistake to elect Delia who came out of nowhere. Have you ever seen a captain of a football team who has never played football?”
They explained that a leader needs to be aware of the capabilities of those around him as well as their problems in order to really form a good team. “Otherwise, I fear that any person without experience will simply be manipulated by others who have been playing the game much longer.”
The former MP pressed that the goal that the PN has today is not to beat Delia but to beat Labour and its corrupt government. For this to happen, the PN needs a much more seasoned person than Grech, they said.
This newsroom also asked the pundits who out of the two candidates they personally think has the best chance of winning.
Laurence Grech said that Bernard Grech is probably most likely to win but he did not exclude the possibility of a surge for Delia.
Bonnici also believes that Grech has the upper hand since the last three years should be enough to make people change their opinion on the party and its leadership. However, Delia has the advantage of already being the leader of the party.
On a different note, the anonymous former MP referred to this election as being a Hobson’s choice “because it is unfortunate that the tesserati (paid members) were given the choice of Delia and just Bernard Grech. I would have preferred to have another good candidate.”
However, they also think that at this point in time, Grech is more likely to win, though it would not come as a surprise that the discrepancy in votes is not as great as people may think it will be.