As you by now all are aware, the PN leadership is set to be a two-horse race, with Bernard Grech being the only candidate to face off against incumbent leader Adrian Delia.
Recent surveys have indicated that Grech is, by far, more popular in all districts amongst PN tesserati than Adrian Delia is. Why is he so popular and why is he the ideal person to take the leadership role of the party? One that has been rudderless and without a solid identity ever since it got Malta into the European Union?
His not being part of any PN administration can be an advantage. Like Delia, he has never contested for an election and was not even involved in party structures. Therefore, he cannot be blamed for mistakes done in the past, this insulating him from Labour attempts to discredit the Opposition by resurrecting past scandals. Some might argue that him being an outsider would raise doubts on his familiarity with the workings of a political party like the PN. Forging alliances with people who know the party inside out is a good strategy, although he has to be careful not to become a puppet with strings being pulled by these “allies”. Apart from this he also has the willingness to heal the wounds which currently plague the party by bringing unity and dialogue even going on record to say that Delia could be part of the solution.
A lack of controversy and a clean closet would make him an ideal leader of the PN. Not only that but it also gives him much needed credibility in the fight against corruption. Again Labour would have nothing to throw back at him in this area. This is in stark contrast to Adrian Delia who has a number of allegations haunting him throughout his tenure as PN leader.
Furthermore, those who regularly attend the Daphne vigils can live with him as PN leader. He himself even made a speech at a vigil in June where he compared people who think that “Malta is a normal country” to “flat-earthers” and urged genuine Labourites to join in the fight for the integrity of the nation. Unlike Delia, who by now has no chance of reaching out to this crowd of people, Bernard has the capacity to do so. They regard him as one of them, and all this while still being in touch with grassroots Nationalist voters who may or may not, be fans of the people taking part in the Daphne vigils.
Him being born in the south of Malta can also help him relate to voters who may feel shunned to the side by the more bourgeois Sliema region PN voters. Surveys have shown he is more popular among party members in the 5th and 10th districts which indicate he can appeal to both working-class and cosmopolitan voters. He may have a better idea why so many southern voters have turned their backs to the PN, and at the same time still, consolidate voters up north.
Finally, he is staunchly anti-corruption and very vocal about it. He is quoted to have said, “if you lack moral authority you will also lose the authority to lead and be followed”. A leader with moral integrity, a sense of professionalism and a sense of respect about how things should be done correctly is just what is needed to get us out of the mess that Joseph Muscat got us in and which Robert Abela has no capability of getting us out of.
Written by: Jake Muscat