GUEST POST/The writing is on the wall: a triumphant Delia victory because not enough people have the guts to stop it

Published: September 5, 2017 at 3:01pm

This was posted as a comment by Hephaestus, but I’m uploading it here for discussion as a guest post.

The party and the country are not in this ugly situation solely due to the amoral familism of a significant proportion of the voting population – including Nationalist Party councillors and members).

Yes, Adrian Delia embodies this ethos and he is viewed – incorrectly perhaps, but so is the nature of perception – as the perfect foil to Joseph Muscat’s brand of populism.

Subscribing to such philosophy is perceived as necessary to win elections in Malta, which – again – is perceived to be the ultimate purpose of any political party. The act of winning automatically ushers in victor’s justice – the systemic nepotism that favours a nucleus of ‘winners’.

I emphasise the power of perception as it’s such a peculiar and ever-changing object. The viewpoint that ‘nepotism is a necessary evil’ is accentuated in periods of economic well-being but could fall in disfavour in the inevitable bust cycle that will follow the current boom.

In a few years’ time, the zeitgeist will change, and the population will yearn for squeaky-clean, serious and responsible leaders. People will increasingly look for a steady pair of hands rather than a handout. Of course, this is not written in stone and populist figures emerge in tough times as well – just think of Podemos or Syriza.

However, this populist wave is not the only reason why Adrian Delia could be elected Nationalist Party leader on the 16th of September. Let’s analyse the facts – why is Delia popular? There are three factors at play.

1) Following two massive consecutive defeats, party councillors and members demand a radical break with the past, including a leader that can be reasonably projected as an ‘outsider’. Out of the four contenders, Delia is the only one who could position himself effectively in this way.

2) The widespread perception is that lucid speakers who can fire up the emotions of a crowd make better and more popular leaders. Nationalist Party supporters, albeit the less-educated ones, are nostalgic for Fenech Adami – big speeches in front of huge crowds during very particular times – and automatically associate it with winning elections.

Fenech Adami = great orator = he won elections = oratory necessary to win elections = our leader needs to be a great orator. Flawed reasoning, but acutely pervasive reasoning nonetheless. Again, Delia positioned himself effectively in this regard and utilises nostalgia as a tool to elicit further support.

3) Delia is a clear supporter of the requirement of ‘naqdu’ – a not-so-subtle reference to nepotism and amoral familism that is etched in Maltese societal fabric. The popularity of Joseph Muscat is merely a reflection of such fabric – and Delia seeks to also ride on it rather than aspiring to a higher purpose, that is, to slowly transforming Maltese society into a more European, civilised and decent one.

In summary, Nationalist Party members want a leader who is perceived to embody all of the above traits. Some of them will invariably give more importance to one factor over another, but overall, it’s probably a mixed bag.

My main argument is that Delia just happens to tick all three boxes. The other candidates do not. Chris Said, at best, ticks just one. Hundreds of party members, if not thousands, will choose Delia because he is an outsider and because he’s perceived to be a good public speaker. They are willing to forgo his stance on nepotism as a necessarily evil, or simply due to a lack of choice.

They do not understand that succumbing to Delia’s brand of politics cannot be outweighed by his other characteristics that might or might not lead to winning elections. Or worse, some party members – no doubt the amoral ones – are willingly entering into a Faustian bargain, selling the soul of the Nationalist Party to gain a possible, not probable, short-term benefit.

Of course, a big chunk of the blame for this situation needs to be apportioned to the current party administration. The entire electoral process was botched from the get-go. Too rushed. Too close to an emotional electoral defeat that often clouds objective judgement.

Too many counter-productive moves to block Delia that only served to embolden his and his supporters’ resolve. It would have been infinitely better if an interim leader was put in place for six months, giving enough time for more suitable candidates to emerge.

It is not impossible to imagine a handful of prospective candidates that tick the first two requirements without the need to succumb to the third trait embraced by Delia. That is why the most responsible course of action at this stage is for Chris Said to pull out of the race and for a critical mass of PN officials, stalwarts and supporters to stand up to be counted and openly campaign for Delia not to reach the 66% threshold.

Wheel out Fenech Adami and Gonzi if need be. Stop beating about the bush and be direct and bullish. This will abort the race completely. Let Delia cry about rigged elections and the ‘Establishment’ – we don’t care as long as the Nationalist Party continues to represent and cherish its core values and principles: decency, clean politics and a European identity.
I, like many others, prefer to serve in Heaven rather than reign in Hell.

We are too late in the game for half-measures or last-ditch efforts to have Chris Said elected as leader. It just won’t happen – the writing is on the wall and the zeitgeist is set for a triumphant Delia victory. Alas, I have my doubts that enough people have the backbone to stop it.

24 Comments Comment

  1. Jozef says:

    The writer misses two fundamentals;

    1. It is NOT the mission of the PN to ‘transform’ society via an elite of the illuminated vs a backward society.
    That is leftie delusion which inevitably brings about reaction. It takes a seasoned socialist to manage it. That is why the PN cannot keep following.

    2. There are methods to tackle nepotism and entitlement which circumnavigate the vice that is ultimately the single issue vote. If we don’t read pjaciri as none other than a natural extension of identity politics, we’ll never get there. And guess which principles provide the right attitude?

    It is not a coincidence that Delia is a product of an ultra-liberal newspaper. Not that the press isn’t in a contest who gets there first, clickbait is all we get.

    This is how Muscat uses the Left Pole to keep himself at the centre of gravity of the political spectrum. The shift has been hegemonic and cultural and he’s the radiating persona. So he’ll work with Delia, how presidential is that?

    Any observation free of Muscat’s political architectonics is considered right wing ergo bad at the moment. Delia simply plays along, he has nothing to lose, unlike the PN. This is the spell to break.

  2. scotlandthebrave says:

    Delia’s on a hiding to nothing if elected. He has more baggage than a Boeing 747. Muscat and co will have a field day tearing this chump, and his dodgy dealings to shreds. He will be the most ineffective leader ever.

  3. I don’t think he should pull out of the race. Staying in the race and fighting it out is a message in itself.

    People would be really let down if he pulled out: pulling out is for wankers.

  4. T Borg says:

    Agreed 100% with the penultimate paragraph. The risk of having Delia winning is far too great.

    If Chris Said withdraws, there needs to be strong opposition to Delia by the PN’s heavy weights to make sure that he does not get the two-thirds majority.

    Open opposition to Delia is justified because he does not meet the PN’s ethical standards.

  5. Franġiska says:

    “I, like many others prefer to serve in Heaven rather than reign in Hell. ” Agree.

    Moħħhom biex jirbħu l-elezzjoni jkun xi jkun anke jekk ibiegħu ruħhom. Għax issa xejn m’għadu ħażin, kollox sar tajjeb u biex nirbħu elezzjoni jrid ikollna sożja ta’ Muscat.

    • M Farrugia says:

      Mohhom biex jirbhu l-elezzjoni biex igawdu u jitweghdu pjaciri. Ghalhekk biss. Tiehu xejn bi kbir li xi erba’ madwar Delia diga inghataw pjaciri qabel l-elezzjoni li ghaddiet u vvutaw Labour minn dawk l-eluf ta’ ghorrief li kellna u issa daru madwar Delia bit-tama li jakkwistaw minn ghandu wkoll.

  6. When you pull out of a race, it signals that you lack stamina, and nothing else.

    • M Farrugia says:

      I alreadly thought this about Busuttil. Did it make sense for the thousands who believed in him last month to pull out and leave such a mess. Probably now he will seek another vote from the same voters in the MEP elections. Obviously now these same voters will not be ready to trust him again.

    • Peritocracy says:

      I see your point and agree, but not with the “nothing else”. Pulling out gives you a chance to fight another day under better circumstances, much like sacrificing a chess piece to gain some advantage. It’s a valid move under the rules and not to be automatically discarded. That’s all I’m saying.

      As I said further up, it’s difficult to properly weigh out pros and cons in these fluid and unpredictable situations. We have people going nuts and hysterically following Delia. Try getting a handle on that.

  7. Antoine Vella says:

    Unfortunately this is all wishful thinking; it will not happen. Chris Said will not withdraw because Delia would get closer to 80% of the vote than 66%.

    There will be no Eddie Fenech Adami and Lawrence Gonzi speaking out against Adrian Delia.

    We cannot press the restart button so any solution proposed has to be realistic.

  8. Peritocracy says:

    I seriously see Delia close to 50%. But I can’t pretend to pick the best option. Is it easier for Delia to get a few more percentage points against Said and make it over the line, or for him to make the jump to 66% should Said pull out? If Said pulls out, will all support crumble, or is there a 34% core of solid and moral people who are switched on? Your guess is as good as mine.

  9. Spiderman says:

    Same in Trump’s party – they don’t have the guts to oppose him. They know he is not fit to be president but they risk losing their seat. And then they say they love their country – same here, and on both sides.

  10. mica says:

    “Wheel out Fenech Adami and Gonzi if need be”.

    It is the thought that has been nagging me. Why haven’t we heard anything from them?

  11. PENELOPE says:

    Delia “great orator”? Are you serious?

    • Frances Mary says:

      ‘Parola facile’ perhaps but not a great orator.

      • Maltese people have an extremely limited vocabulary and can’t even answer simple questions put to them by an interviewer on camera or for a job application. So they’re obviously going to think that somebody like that is a ‘great orator’. They don’t realise he’s using Janet-and-John vocabulary and syntax.

  12. Benny Hill says:

    “Wheel out Fenech Adami and Gonzi if need be. Stop beating about the bush and be direct and bullish.”

    Yes, because wheeling out Fenech Adami really worked during the 2013 election campaign. I think you are misunderstanding the nature of today’s situation.

  13. Benny Hill says:

    Delia is, to put it simply, and without going into the main causes (mass hysteria, and others), riding on a wave of approval which is unlikely to be stopped.

    And this is because the Maltese population, including those eligible to vote in the leadership election, are ignorant, immoral (they live in a buble of faux-morality, where normal sex is taboo, perverted behaviour is acceptable, and serious corruption is fine as long as it is a means to an end) and just cannot see past their own petty selfish requirements.

    Remember that Donald Trump lost the popular vote in the US Presidential Election. Americans aren’t quite as dumb as the Maltese.

  14. LaundryVille says:

    Delia’s campaign material supersedes Said’s in quality and effectiveness. If Said is portrayed as a leader, people out there will start perceiving him that way.

    His 33 years of experience in politics need to be visualised with footage and the right kind of background music. Come on, give this man a helping hand. He was there for the party in the roughest of seas. Chris Said has chosen once again to keep on sailing in the storm. Leaders do not abandon ship.

  15. Ganni Muscat says:

    “They are willing to forgo his stance on nepotism as a necessarily evil, or simply due to a lack of choice.”

    Not really, I would wager that most of them will vote for him exactly because they want nepotism to work in their personal favour.

  16. Oh right, withdraw from the race like a coward, when you’re asking people to have you lead the party, and then what? Instruct people not to vote? If there is only one candidate on the list, people will vote for him, because that’s how people are.

    And what reason will Said give for pulling out? Have you thought that far?

    Maltese people are so childish, I despair. For God’s sake frame things in context – this isn’t teenagers talking over a joint and some crisps.

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