The current Nationalist leadership race tends at times to be restricted to a general sharing of critique, ideas and proposals for the better organisation of the party and for the better formulation of its policies in general.
This is certainly essential. Some advocate regrouping; others promote retrenching; others would opt for an interim solution and still others push for the ‘bulldozer approach’.
The challenges we are facing today have been in the making for a number of years now. Possibly unlike others we have faced in the past, they are the challenges brought about by a gradual but steady transformation of our society. This process was imperceptible at first; and underestimated subsequently. The result of last month’s elections, surprising to some but well-calculated and expected by others, brought this process to stark reality.
Maltese society has changed fundamentally in some aspects and yet retained its characteristics in others. The manner in which a very sizeable section of voters, traditionally hailing from both sides of political divide, prioritised the general feeling of well-being and set aside the glaringly sharp decline of any notion of serious good governance, says a lot about who we really are today. It says a lot about who we really are on the inside, which is very often quite different to what we show on the outside.
The Nationalist Party must necessarily take full cognisance of this. Then comes the tough part.
Quo vadis post-September? Do we opt to join them, once we haven’t beaten them now? Do we seek to ‘beat them at their own game’? Do we go down the route of raising the stakes and proving that we can do better and offer 1,000 promotions in the army in the first week we are re-elected instead of the 900 that Labour shamelessly handed out in the last week prior to the national poll? Do we compromise more where others have already compromised immensely?
Do we take a cue from the brave but tragic General George Armstrong Custer and carve out our own Little Bighorn Battlefield in the midst of Pietà and simply blinker on regardless of where and how our entire society, across age, birth, economic and educational divides, currently stands?
The Nationalist Party’s success has always been the country’s success
The replies lie less in the plans for the organisation and administration of our party and more in one’s vision for our country and one’s commitment to get there.
The question to ask ourselves first is, quite frankly and in stark deceptive simplicity, when all is said and done, what kind of Malta and Gozo do we wish to live, work, relax and interact in?
Our reply to this basic consideration is that which should form our political thought and consequential action.
My firm commitment, as that of many others within the Nationalist Party, is to strive, plan, work and steer towards a Malta that takes the rule of law as a sacred, untouchable given; which ensures that all its citizens are unquestioningly and without exception, equal before the law; where the generation of wealth is by all means encouraged and facilitated, unhampered by government overbearing intervention but within parameters of public interest and national sustainability; where its citizens are not relegated to having to beg, steal, or borrow (or indeed blackmail) rights and favours at every single electoral appointment; where all are actively encouraged and assisted to achieve the fullness of their ability; where harsh social and economic realities are acknowledged and faced head-on by the political class, not relegated to one conscience-appeasing budgetary measure or other; where we can strive for excellence in new and innovative areas of economic and academic activity, in the full knowledge that we will, as so many times in the past, more than admirably rise to the occasion; where we can promote and ensure a clean and healthy physical and living environment in the short-, medium- and long-term; where disability becomes a national challenge to encourage the maximum ability possible, right down to an individual basis.
I sometimes fear that the very word ‘vision’ in a political context has been condemned to some much-lessened significance precisely by political abuse of it. Nevertheless, no term captures the concept better. Striving to achieve this vision through a clear political commitment is neither utopic nor impossible. It is by all means possible. The challenges we face at this juncture in the life of this 137-year-young party starts with an accurate, sincere and non-judgmental acknowledgement of where Maltese society stands today and proceeds with the implementation of this vision through application of the principles and values on which we are founded to the realities of today.
Challenging it most definitely is, and dauntingly so. The Nationalist Party has faced many an enormous challenge at many stages in the past. On each and every occasion, and at each and every turn, it has faced these challenges head on and, guided always by its political vision, has always succeeded in the end.
The party’s success has always been the country’s success. I stand more than convinced and determined that this time will absolutely be no exception.
Alex Perici Calascione is contesting the election for the leadership of the Nationalist Party.