Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Times: Commission in litany of reasons why the PN lost the election

Tuesday, June 4, 2013, 21:40

A commission tasked by the PN to investigate the causes of the party's electoral defeat has come up with a litany of reasons while saying that the PN needs to rekindle a ‘feel good’ feeling among the party supporters.

The commission, chaired by Ann Fenech, said the reasons for the defeat included public disappointment over the bus service reform, the City Gate project, the pay rise to ministers, arrogance and a lack of good communication with the people, divisions within the party, the situation in Mepa and the cost of living.

The party had not managed to reunite after John Dalli lost to Lawrence Gonzi in the PN leadership election (in 2008), the report says, with divisions becoming deeper with the disagreements by a number of MPs.

A number of people felt some ministers should have resigned when policies failed.

The fact that the Cabinet was small meant that ministers were too busy to meet people and keep a close-enough eye on civil servants, the report says. Customer care sections within ministries were also not effective enough.

Criticism was made over the past that tax cuts were 'too little, too late' and the Tax Compliance Unit was sometimes inhumane.

Other reasons were the party’s position on divorce, ‘sabotage’ by Labour-leaning civil servants and the absence of a clear policy on gay rights, hospital waiting lists and delays.

Voters were also irked by the appointment of parliamentary assistants to appease backbenchers, the appointment of certain people to boards, inefficiency at Arms (the water and electricity billing agency), the Enemalta oil scandal and the building of the Delimara power station.

The restructuring of Air Malta, Sea Malta and the dockyard also affected many people negatively.

The state of the roads, and the pro-government stance of the State broadcaster disappointed some people.

The Government's position on hunting did not please environmentalists or hunters while the PN's anti-racism stand on illegal immigration also failed to go down well with the electorate.

Former PN leader Lawrence Gonzi was deemed "too conservative" and was too taken up by the country's problems to focus on the organizational shortcomings within the party.

Furthermore, many people simply wanted a change of government, despite the national economy doing well.

The report also mentions "bloggers with Nationalist sympathies". It says that the PN was often blamed for what they wrote, even though some people felt these same bloggers were doing the work the party should have been doing. The PN could have dissociated itself from bloggers who were making personal attacks.

The commission said the PN underestimated the personality of Labour leader Joseph Muscat and the impact of the changes he made to his party even with seemingly superficial things like a change in logo and the idea of building a movement.

The commission said it received more than 2,500 emails and 120 letters and it conducted 135 interviews.

Among reasons why Labour won the election, the report mentions the resignation of former leader Alfred Sant, the death of Labour icon Dom Mintoff, the call for meritocracy and the setting up of a PL section for Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgender people.

The Labour slogan Malta Taghna Lkoll (Malta for All), the call for unity and the well-funded Labour campaign also contributed significantly.

The report says that Labour's "fourth floor" - which was criticised during the election as the place where Dr Muscat's clique met - created an open environment in which everyone enjoyed working, similarly to the PN's headquarters in the past.

Among various recommendations, the commission said there should be a limit of 10 years for ministers, the party leader and Prime Minister to ensure renewal, among many other administrative recommendations.

See the executive summary by clicking the pdf below.

Attached files: PN report

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