Petra Caruana Dingli at The Shift News
in

Backing up or backing off

A move was finally made yesterday within the PN, aiming for a vote of confidence in Adrian Delia’s leadership of the Nationalist Party. The required number of signatures was quickly collected from PN councillors for an extraordinary meeting to be requested.

Moves are afoot to shake things up. This reflects the mood of many people. PN councillor Ivan Bartolo has prominently supported this petition. He has, however, said that if Delia were to be retained as leader by the 1,500 PN councillors, then “all the rest must either back him up or back off.”

Presumably ‘the rest’ means the other PN councillors or the MPs? It surely does not refer to the general public, the voters in the next election. They will do as they please.

The thing is, even if Delia manages to remain leader, I don’t believe that enough disillusioned PN voters will move to back him up. They will, more likely, just continue to back off.

Most voters do not care what a political party’s councillors or subscribed members think. The councillors are, of course, central as this important move to call a meeting shows. The members choose the leader. But people mainly look at what the MPs, and the party leader, say and do. These are the big players, the team in the pitch. The rest are behind the scenes.

Delia’s close ally Pierre Portelli announced his resignation as head of the PN media arm last week. But he retained his seat as member of the PN executive. Portelli announced that in this way, as an ‘outsider’, he would be freer to speak about what is going on at the PN.

He was quickly told to shove off, but what was that comment again? An ‘outsider’? A member of the PN executive is a fully-fledged insider from where I am standing. If this reflects widespread navel-gazing at the Stamperija, please take off those blinkers now.

They must be aware, for example, that in the world ‘outside’, many ordinary people will not even openly discuss partisan politics. Many do not readily admit to their friends and colleagues which party they voted for in the last election, let alone ever go to a PN or PL kazin or attend an openly political activity.

They may not share their views in order to hedge their bets, or because they fear reprisals at work, or because it is convenient and easier to not express opinions in public, or because they think that the sky will fall on their heads, or because they ‘hate politics’, or some other reason. They are free to do so.

In reality, swathes of voters have nothing to do with any political party machinery and do not relate to it. Yet on election day these ordinary voters make a choice, for better or worse, and they decide which party governs the country.

Delia has been there long enough already for most people to have made up their minds about him. Under Delia, PN electoral support has not picked up. The party is increasingly divided. It may be imploding. Will growing numbers of people genuinely want to vote for this, and why would they?

Unfortunately, Delia has not managed to create a positive, meaningful identity for himself as a politician. After close to two years he does not really stand for anything. Is he a visionary type, interested in principles and ideals? Or is he a practical doer, a good manager and implementer? He seems to be neither one. We’ve heard remarkably little about his strengths, and they just do not add up to success.

Delia also does not offer much by way of change, as he is too cosy with his political rivals and does not strike out effectively. He is openly supported by prominent PL activists. His opponents are among his greatest friends. They want him to stay. He stands no chance of electoral success, and they know it.

Following the move to call for a meeting to discuss Delia’s leadership, a different group within the PN is attempting to block it. They are shooting from the hip in all directions, trying to pin the blame of the PN’s miserable performance on others. Pseudo NGOs, pseudo bloggers, devious MPs, dark forces from the underworld, snakes in the grass, you name it. Go on, just blame it on the dog.

Perhaps they fear to establish that Delia does not have enough support after all. Delia may run from an internal vote, but he cannot hide. He is unlikely to take the PN to victory, not by a long shot. If he hangs on, he will simply be on reprieve until the next general election. He will then have to back off anyway. So why back him now?

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