Sent in by Libertas:

No matter how hopeful and optimistic, no matter up to what extent a party outsider affords party politicians the benefit of doubt, no matter an outsider’s determination to encourage reconciliation and dialogue amongst humans of a different mind, the historical event being held on the 27th July at the Stamperija is encapsulated in a psychopathic allusion of killing marigolds. 

When relatively young I longed to be a cineaste. ‘Of Killing Marigolds’ was one short amateur film. It was liked, praised and up to an extent debated. An Italian friend of mine defined it as a documentary-film revolving around a clearly defined story starting and ending with a mysterious kill, but that left too many questions unanswered. The tale manoeuvred around too many loose ends, real or flashback episodes and referenced artefacts. How to explain the romanticism in the picturesque locations at the San Martin Villa, how come the serenity and hopefulness albeit in disturbing aftermath of the demise of an ageing father, why the abrupt end of the daughter’s partner? The initial kill led to the wilting of the marigolds. The final one led to their killing. But the audience, the backbone of a film, could consciously perceive who the killers were.

Through hindsight and with a good pinch of correlative thinking, a party outsider could interpret the above anecdote to the realities and/or surreal chronicles mistily enveloping the Partit Nazzjonalista. 

Scholars contend that there are no factions in the party. Differentiating factions from the Italian term “correnti” – a divergence from mainstream policy thinking – one could uncomfortably live with that. It is a reality that there exists an absence of political thought in the Partit Nazzjonalista. All claim that they are members of a Christian Democratic formation while projecting a distorted image of this belief through their failure to practice same within the confines of the Stamperija. Instead, to an outsider, the party as personalised by its leadership, has transformed itself into something of a populist group trailing questionable cul-de-sacs centring on right or wrong and us and them. 

One cannot but note that the opposing group, determined yet handicapped by alleged administrative transgressions that party honourable gentlemen have ruled out, and more importantly lacking media exposure, is pushing forward its agenda, unassumingly but desperately. It is conviction that would convince this “guerrilla” to venture to resign itself to its death row. Its weakness is that it lacks a coherent identity. Of course, not all would venture to sign to the death warrant. Its positivity focuses on issues of trust. 

Simon Busuttil, whose integrity is certainly not in doubt, whose reputed personal political initiatives have led to this impasse, who has taken a step back in this warring debate, was exemplary in his cautious and yet determined approach during a recent interview on a tv channel. As much as he is certainly relevant to the rehabilitation of the party, his rumoured stance that he “has no interest in any party role ever in the future” is appreciated. But one would recall a certain Amintore Fanfani who having lost government in 1959 and retired to the Avventino, had affirmed that if a well-harnessed horse would come his way he would ride it. 

Adrian Delia was not my preferred bid for leadership. And yet, in the constant belief that this individual could make the grade, I have consistently strived to instil amongst readers and friends that given circumstances the party needs to seek cohesion through respect and frank debate. But it is known that mature dialogue lives on respect and trust. 

Unfortunately, this gentlemen, that had run a leadership campaign not much to the liking of a party outsider, failed from day one to get a grasp of what leadership mettle is. Being strongly disputed by a group of party activists, instead of patiently exploring to build bridges, irrespective of the inherent problems, he invited into his inner circle a group all immersed in self-interest, pride and fear. Having repeatedly affirmed that he would welcome individuals who would have different ideas than that of the party leadership, the party media is today a hub for censorship. 

The image he is projecting for the 27th July event is at best disturbing. By inference, he displays the certainty that the councillors believe in his agenda, that the outcome shall strengthen the leadership and the party reform shall be rebranding the organisation. And yet most worryingly he asserts that if he were confirmed in the post-action shall be taken in respect of rebels. I sincerely believe that this is not the apparently affable and accessible Delia unless the writing is on the wall. Adrian Delia shall resign to the fact that loyalty is earned not imposed. Adrian Delia needs to realise that in a Christian Democratic formation founded on freedom, respect and dialogue there is no place for submissiveness.

With this in mind, the multifaceted currency of this party professes that the outcome of the 27th July event is in the sole interest of the party. Moreover, the leadership team, the alleged opposing group and those activists distraught and fearful in the mid of the street are not owners of the party. The ownership of the party is described in the party statute and its structures, which cannot be co-opted to the leadership as is happening to the country’s institutions as per the dictator’s handbook. But Roland Barthes would claim: “the rule has been suspended”. And Cicero would again proclaim his defence statement: “In a time of war the law is silenced”. And the historian Harari would remind us that the Alpha Male of 50,000 years ago or so is no more.

Councillors and their patronising groups are asked to consider the aftermath carefully before casting their vote. This is not an opportunity to invest in the bank of favours. It could be a one time opportunity with no winners and losers. 

If the leader, hurt as he may be, is confirmed he would need to retract his present stance, which would better remain unqualified, and act as a leader by winning his opponents’ trust. He cannot leave this dialogue with those voting against him to the person assigned to the reform programme. It is the task, the responsibility and the right of the leader.

If the leadership is not confirmed the party together, including all, would need to identify a Simon of Cyrene, an unassuming notary like figure, who can help moderate among equals and eventually materialise the still to be defined reforms, with determination but without fear and of course using avenues that in no way indicate submission. This was the case with Aldo Moro when in 1959 he was nominated the head of the Italian Christian Democratic Party. 

At the moment the PN seems an exact replica of the Democrazia Cristiana in the early nineties where self-interest, pride and fear ruled the day that led to its demise.

The councillors’ thinking, debate and conclusions on this 27th July event need to focus on the “preservation” and credible future of the party and devoid of conflicting emotions that the present lamentable scenario offers. 

All groups need to put into practice the often-repeated mantra that it is not the leadership team or the factions that are the party. The party is its 140 years of existence, its heritage and its beliefs in a free society, its beliefs in a social market economy, and in the rights and freedoms, which bring along responsibilities, of all individuals. The party is whoever voluntarily identifies himself with the party, could contribute to its well being and future, without imposition and in an environment of dialogue, none of which suggests “submission”.

Councillors shall not disregard the current mission that the party leader has assigned the much respected Dr Louis Galea, to whose ears the above humble thinking could, possibly with reservations, sound like music. Dr Galea would strike you with the clarity in his thinking and his determination to moderate amongst disparate thinkers. This too could be a one time opportunity, which in line with our society’s cognitive skills, needs to be preserved and creatively developed. 

Councillors are the representatives of party members and their neighbourhoods. Apart from their thinking and party affiliations, they need to focus on what the people in the streets in such delicate stage envisage is best for the party and the country. 

The councillors are expected to be guided by the cardinal values of freedom, respect and dialogue.