Revamping Partit Nazzjonalista

LONG READ – Over the last few weeks we’ve been hearing different suggestions on what changes PN needs to adopt in order for it to be relevant in today’s world and more importantly, regain it’s popularity so that one day it can challenge PL in order to win back the government.

In order to ever have the possibility to do that, PN needs to win the minds and the hearts of the electorate and to do that, it needs to do some very drastic decisions. I read all the reports about the very interesting suggestions put forward by the formidable Hon. Claudio Grech and the reports of some of the suggestions put forward by Dr Louis Galea. All their suggestions are extremely valid and what I’m coming up with hereunder is a fusion of some of their ideas and some other ideas that I discussed with various people of many different strata of our society.

In this article I’m not going to discuss whether Dr Delia should be replaced or not. I have my own opinion about this however this article will not discuss any individual, it will discuss the party and specific roles that needs to evolve. I’m going to discuss a holistic approach on what PN can do as a political party to become relevant to today’s times.

Without further ado, here’s what I believe PN should do in order to become the political force it once was:

Financially

  1. Partit Nazzjonalista is in serious debt. There’s no two ways around it. Due to that any decision the party takes are always taken with the consideration that the party has no funds, thus sometimes doing the right thing takes the back burner because financially it can’t be afforded. Is this the right thing for Malta’s Opposition Party? Do we want to have an opposition that is held back due to its financial constraints? I think not!

    It’s a known fact that PN is the owns some very valuable buildings around the island. PN owns a building in almost every locality in Malta. This makes PN asset rich! My main suggestion is that PN should sell almost ALL of if its properties and retain just 5 or 6 of them.

    The need to have a kazin in each locality isn’t as important as it used to be in the past. These clubs were extremely important in the past as it was the only way in which people could keep in touch with their MPs or candidates, however in 2020 there are better ways on how to communicate and reach out to the public thus the traditional kazini as we know them aren’t as important as they used to be.

    If the party had to sell all of its properties and retain just 5 of 6 properties scattered around key areas of the island, PN will have amassed a large sum of money which will go a long way to clear all the party’s debt.

    This idea isn’t unheard of. HSBC is doing it and financial results show that the bank is still going strong. Large companies are constantly finding ways on how to centralise their focus in order to offer a better product. HSBC aren’t doing this to raise money, however they’re doing it because in order to reach their goals, they didn’t need to have a branch in every locality.

    If PN had to retain 5 or 6 kazini around the island, then these can have the necessary investment in them to become a strong mini head office in which people can gather, socialise, work and also discuss politics on a regular basis. As it stands today, most kazini are used as a bar where one can have a coffee and a committee meeting is held every month.

    This clearly isn’t an easy thing to do because many families have personally invested in the purchasing and building of the local kazini. My own grandfather personally forked out money and dedicated most of his life to the Msida kazin thus I understand the sentimental hurt that this will cause. However I believe that my grandfather would have sacrificed all his work in the Msida kazin if the outcome of this is financial stability for the party he loved and worked for all his life.

    If most of the buildings are sold, PN would gather a large sum of money that can clear almost all of its debit. Once this is done PN will be able to function again. Without the heavy burden of debt breathing down the party’s neck, the party can start functioning and getting organised in order to once again become the Political force that used to be in the past.

    Conclusion of the suggestion: SELL ALL KAZINI APART FROM 5/6 OF THEM – MONEY EARNED FROM SALES TO GO TOWARDS PAYING DEBT – INVEST IN THE REMAINING KAZINI TO CONVERT THEM INTO MINI HEAD OFFICES.

  2. MPs and candidates are there to meet people, solve problems and enrich our society by ensuring their constituents goals and dreams are finally made easier. They are not fund raisers. Once the debt problem has been solved by the point above, the party needs to collect funds for two things: a) to have a decent electoral kitty to run an election b) to have enough funds for its day to day running.

    Fund raising will be done more intelligently and organised better directly at grassroot level. Door to door visits by local committee members, raffles etc. Also new ways on how to collect money can be introduced. Recurring payments through revolut, standing orders etc can be introduced. This is a constant way on how to generate money continuously.

    Most importantly, the party needs to be above board with its transparency and be even more transparent than what the law requires. Every 1c earned, needs to be documented. Every 1c the party received needs to be recorded. This will ultimately help in more ways than one, not least the party would know where the most money is coming from if it ever needs to finance a certain project. However most importantly, the party would be crystal clear in its transparency and no doubts can ever be raised against the party’s financing and credibility.

    Conclusion of the suggestion: MPs and candidates to refrain from collecting funds – Grassroot level fund raising to be enhanced. – 100% transparency and logging of all monies.

  3. Ready for it? Here’s a big one! I know that it has been suggested already by PN that all political parties should close their party owned media. Yet PN should take the lead and close NET TV once and for all. Let’s face it, statistics show that NET TV unfortunately isn’t reaching any extraordinary levels of audiences and it’s costing the party an arm and a leg to be ran. The political gains vis-à-vis the investment in the media is unfortunately very minimal. So, this would be a win/win. Save money as the party will spend much less while doing the right thing is discontinuing a television station that delivers news that ultimately have a strong bias towards the party’s political agenda.

    Having said that Online Media needs to be boosted big time. We live in a world where news travel at 100 miles an hour thanks to social media. PN actually have a pretty good website and social media presence, however if TV will be removed, then these online mediums need to have the required investment in order for the message to still reach the public.

    The Leader’s and the Party’s FB and Instagram pages needs to be dynamically updated with constant live feeds to show the public what’s going on and to actively engage with the electorate in real time. The party needs to have people continuously monitoring popular social media groups to understand what the people are feeling in order to ensure that PN is always on top of what’s going on in the country. Social Media Is the future of campaigning and this sort of campaigning needs to be done 24/7 and not only in the last few weeks before an election. Having said that, the party’s candidates need to be trained on how to interact on social media with a set of do’s and don’t. At the moment some comments and posts by the party’s exponents are utterly atrocious!

    Apart from closing Net TV I will take the revolution one step further too. It hurts to say this, but I will also cease the publication of In-Nazzjon and Il-Mument. They will forever be known as the mediums that delivered history to our nation; however, times have changed, and people has evolved in their way of absorbing news. Newspapers’ popularity diminished within the last two decades. Their’ popularity diminished just as the social media boom started.

    In the meantime NET FM will continue to operate because it will end up the only medium that can reach the elderly population and those that still refrain from using social media.

    Conclusion of the suggestion: Close NET TV; cease the production of In-Nazzjon and Il-Mument – Invest heavily in Netnews.com.mt and PN’s social media presence and train candidates on how to better use Social Media.

Administration

  1. It was rumoured that Dr Louis Galea suggested that the party’s name should be changed to The People’s Party or The Popular Party. Very similar to a lot of PPE affiliated parties around the European Union. Although I’m not entirely against the idea, I don’t believe that PN should go down that route. This isn’t a priority for the rejuvenation of the party. Changing the name will only upset some hardcore voters and it will not make the party more appealing to new or returning voters. There are many more things PN needs to change, the name isn’t necessarily one of them.

    Conclusion of suggestion: Do not change the name!

  2. I strongly believe that the top level of administration of the party needs to be revamped. Currently PN operates like this: The leader, 2 deputy leaders, General Secretary and 3 Presidents (General Council, Administrative Council and Executive Committee) as its core leaders. I will change this drastically. First and foremost, the Administrative Council will be rebranded to the Leadership Council. This council will be formed as follows:

    – Leader of the Party – In charge of driving the party’s political vision and overall leader of the party. Will also be the Opposition Leader that aims to be the Prime Minister of Malta should the party wins the election. Yet the only difference from today is that the Party Leader will not be in charge of operations of the party directly. Power needs to be diluted amongst different people and the Leader should focus on driving the political vision, meeting people and winning people’s hearts and ultimately votes! The leader’s focus needs to be on the people and not on the infrastructure at Dar Centrali.

    – Deputy Leader – Currently the party got 2 deputy leaders, one for party affairs and one for parliamentary affairs. I suggest that there’s only one Deputy Leader. This idea was also suggested by Hon. Claudio Grech which I really liked. The authority of the Deputy Leader will be ONLY at party affairs and not in Parliament. The Deputy Leader will be in charge of all party affairs, chairs the new Leadership Committee that all the people mentioned here will form part of and deputise for the leader whenever the leader is away and/or not available. The Deputy Leader doesn’t have to be an MP.

    – Leader of the House – This needs to be elected from the elected MPs. The Leader of the House will oversee the Parliamentary affairs of the party. Similar to what the current Deputy Leader for Parliamentary affairs, however since his/her duties relies only in the parliament, then the title will not be of a Deputy Leader but that of Leader of the House. In the hierarchy of the party, this role will be beneath that of the Deputy Leader.

    – Chief Executive Officer – I’m suggesting that the role of General Secretary to be abolished and instead PN opts to appoint 3 chiefs. The first one is Chief Executive Officer. The role of this officer will be to run the day to day affairs of the party. Manage the political sections (ferghat), oversee the committees and regional offices, manage the various group of helpers and be in charge of the employees of the party.

    – Chief Financial Officer –In a nutshell this person will be in charge of any financial affairs of the party and will also be the person responsible to ensure financial transparency. The CFO will also be responsible to get a valuation for all properties owned by the party so that it can then be decided which buildings are to be sold. The CFO will also be in charge to co-ordinate all the fund-raising activities of the party.

    – Chief Data Officer – The Chief Data Officer will be in charge of managing and holding the data according to the law. It’s an open secret when we say that the current data that the party holds is horrendous. This is what you get when for many years the data was split amongst 3 people that don’t see eye to eye with each other. The Chief Data Officer will also oversee ELCOM (the electoral commission of the party) (PS. THE CURRENT CHIEF OF ELCOM NEEDS TO BE BANISHED FROM THE PARTY!!) This position is of utmost importance in the Party and sadly PN never had a similar role given its due importance. This is the only way the Party can ever be prepared to win an election because it will be the duty of the Chief Data Officer to understand where and how the party needs to focus on a certain section of society. This is a technical role and as such should NOT be filled by a politician but by a technocrat. Alas, this won’t be an elected position but will be appointed directly by the party’s Executive Committee.

    – Chairperson of General Council – The title of president is too pompous. The title of the leader of the General Council should be renamed to Chairperson. The role of this individual will be to keep in touch with the members of the party and not only to look pretty and organise a General Council every now and again. Constant meetings need to be organised in any of the party’s 6 mini Head Offices or at Dar Centrali. It’s the duty of the Chairperson of the General Council to ensure that the needs and wants of the district councils are raised at Leadership Level to be discussed.

    – Chairperson of Executive Council – Will retain the current role of the President of the Executive Council

    – As you might have guessed I don’t like the word President that much! Thus the remaining members of the Leadership Council will be the Chairpersons (instead of presidents) of all sections (ferghat) of the party and as further discussed hereunder, an extra two members from MZPN.

    With that in mind the President of the Administrative Council role will be abolished as this new Leadership Committee will be chaired by the Deputy Leader of the party.

    Apart from that I also suggest that there will be a regeneration of most sections (ferghat) in the party. This is my idea for the sections:

    – The Youth Section – At the moment there’s two youth sections, MZPN and Team Start. Team Start should be targeting the young voters and MZPN to target those between the ages of 18 and 30. Sadly, over the last few years they ended up as two opposing factions with different political views. Funnily enough the young Team Start team is leaning more on the right and are very conservative when viewed on the political spectrum whilst MZPN are slightly more liberal and more centrist.

    Moving forward I suggest that Team Start is abolished. A new and stronger MZPN will be formed and it will have various sub committees such as; MZPN Youth (which will replace Team Start), MZPN Gozo, MZPN Women and MZPN LGBTIQ. These 4 sub committees will each focus on different parts of society that includes the 14 to 30-year-old bracket. This is a very wide bracket and thus attention needs to be focused if PN is to become relevant to the youth once again. Each leader of the 4 sub committees will form part of the 15 members of MZPN’s central committee and ALL 15 MEMBERS OF MZPN Central Committee will be given a seat in the Party’s Executive Council. Also the Chairperson of the MZPN Central Committee and another two members chosen from the central committee will have a seat in the new Party’s Leadership Committee. This will ensure that the Party’s executive committee has at least 15 members which are under the age of 30 and that the Leadership Committee has at least 3 members under the age of 30.

    – The current sections (ferghat) should all be retained. However instead of 3, each of them should be given 5 seats in the Party’s executive. This way the sections are strengthened as they will have a bigger voice in the Party’s executive committee.

    – A new section (fergha) will be formed to cater for those aged between 30 and 60. At the moment the party has a section to focus on those under 30 and those over 60, however there isn’t a section which focuses solely on the needs of those aged between 30 and 60. This section, which normally includes young to established families; are the beating heart of our nation. Most of them have finished their studies and are well in the path of their careers, others are finishing their careers. Although all of those in this section can fall into one of the other sections (SME’s, Workers, Professionals etc), I still believe that this section needs to be represented in the party’s executive and thus having its own section.

    – The Executive Committee – with the above mentioned changes the executive committee will be even bigger. The idea of this is that I would love to see a much larger executive committee that will allow a free flowing discussing that includes seasoned politicians and youths alike. This is where the Leader of the Party needs to push forward his/her political direction and steer the party towards growth.

    Conclusion of the suggestion: Revamp the top tier administration of the party and empower more youth.

  3. Reach out! – The Leadership Committee needs to look at the party’s history and identify those individuals that have strayed away from the party for one reason or another. Throughout the years there were many influential youths that got easily elected in the local council or contested the general election which have by now vanished from the party. Identify these people, meet with them and understand why they are not active anymore. There are thousands of potential voters that can be persuaded by these young individuals that once belonged in PN, win them over and win over their thousands of followers.

    Apart from that, the party needs to reach out to all former MPs that are willing to help out. Find a place for them in which they want to work and let them do their own thing. These men and women were MPs because people voted for them! If they are willing to help and engage in the party, they deserve to be given the opportunity. Let’s get the ball rolling quickly. If possible, also involve these former MPs in some of the leadership roles in order to win them over and get them involved back in the party in positions that matter.


Conclusion of the suggestion: Reach out to former MPs, build bridges where possible and get them engaged in the inner workings of the party.

I can keep going on and on with different suggestions, however I believe that PN needs to start form somewhere. If it starts from some of the above-mentioned suggestions, then I’m sure that the healing process will commence. As I said in the beginning, these suggestions aren’t entirely mine but a fusion of different ideas that I came across, together with others that I thought of and other ideas that I was passed on from various individuals.

Thank you for your patience in reading this very long post!

Kind regards,

Alan Abela-Wadge
Former General Election Candidate 9th and 10th District
Former Local Councillor Msida
Former President PN Councillors
Former Member of PN Administrative Council and Executive Committee