With this year’s (shorter than usual) season of the World famous tv series having come to an end; millions of fans around the world have been left yearning for more. However, Malta proves once again to be the best in Europe – Hell maybe the best in the World – by stepping up to the occasion and producing its own version of Games of Thrones under the guise of the PN Leadership contest.
A high budget production, including the main set located in Pieta rumoured to have cost the Maltese tax payer 400 million, is underway. Betrayals, plot twists, gore, witchcraft, epic battles and boring TV debates devoid of any real substance; it all plays out during a magical Maltese summer.
The PN leadership candidates for the final round are:
Delia Adrian: a lawyer from Birkirkara who lives in Siggiewi, married with 5 kids. Until recently he was the president of Birkirkara F.C, a position he resigned from to run for this election.
Said Chris also a lawyer from Nadur, Gozo, a locality where he served as PN Mayor. Said is also a former PN Secretary General, special Gozo envoy, and former Parliamentary Secretary.
Perici Calascione Alex – a lawyer, and Portelli Frank – a medical doctor where eliminated during the first round.
Following the historical landslide electoral loss of last June’s election, Simon Busuttil’s leadership had become untenable making way for the selection process to appoint a new leader to start. The magnitude of the loss however, trickled responsibility down squashing the chances of the most likely successors both of whom were his deputies. This paved the way for the position to be contested by some unlikely contenders.
Following the first round which witnessed 1200 councillors casting their vote, the final round will be contested by Adrian Delia and Chris Said. According to the “official script” the latter would be a continuation of Simon Busuttil’s legacy while the former would be an agent of change, but how much is that really true?
Delia is perceived as an outsider and he is definitely portraying himself as an agent of change. Such a message is embodied in his slogan “a new way”, and he is vowing to sweep out the clique that has taken over the Nationalist Party. He has also pledged to not let the PN’s agenda be hijacked by “someone else” anymore, including the blogger and gossiper Daphne Caruana Galizia. On her part the blogger has forwarded some serious allegations towards Delia including ties with prostitution, offshore accounts, and drug dealing rackets. Daphne Caruana Galizia also alleged receiving threats from Adrian Delia’s supporters, who she called “camicie nere” (Italian for “black shirts” a terminology used to describe supporters of Benito Mussolini and his Fascist Party who used to silence their political opponents through violent means during the 1920s in Italy).
Adrian Delia’s detractors amongst the establishment are not in shortage spearheaded by the current caretaker-Leader Simon Busuttil who outright suggested that Delia should retire his candidature. Carol Aquilina went as far as to post an “enigmatic” post on not wanting the party to be taken over by a Freemason, which many interpreted as a not so veiled accusation directed at Delia (who felt the need to outright declare that he is NOT a Freemason).
When it comes to irritating the people making up the old guard Adrian Delia has definitely delivered, but what about the ideas? His new way seems to translate to going back and do things the way they used to be done in the past. Delia’s only ideology seems to be to do whatever it takes for the PN to be back in power.
As for Chris Said he apparently carries the favour of most of the people in the establishment however, that does not mean that with him at the helm all will be the same. Yet with regards to policy stances he has signalled that he might make some changes particularly in the areas of civil liberties and immigration. A policy aimed at strategically tackling rising criminality, managing immigration better and weakening the undesirable loop between those issues would be welcome. However, Said seems more concerned about riding on the tide of anger to increase his popularity rather than the legitimate fears and inconveniences faced by the citizens; perhaps using security concerns (both real and perceived) to fuel xenophobic sentiments making the design, broad acceptance and implementation of pragmatic solutions nigh impossible.
Asked whether he considers himself a liberal or a conservative (on social issues), Said brushed off the question but the answer is obvious. When specific issues his personal stance seems to be to take back the Nationalist Party to its traditionally conservative stances, just cautiously enough to not irritate the “liberal wing” though. So Chris Said could after all be the real agent of change…except that on these same issues Adrian Delia is also sending the same message. The truth is that both candidates are really conviction-less conservatives, both are just proposing to “go back to the good old times”, both seem to harbour the same fundamental ideology the same founding “principles” of the Nationalist Party – that of power at all costs.
Whether Adrian Delia or Chris Said get elected as the new PN leader will probably determine the faces that will represent the Opposition. However, when it comes to policies, framework of thinking, or fundamental philosophy it will not matter. The PN leadership contest will cast the actors, but the script they will play has already been written; and if you believe any positive change will come out of this: I sincerely hope you are right and I am wrong.