New PN Secretary General Francis Zammit Dimech has said he is keeping an open mind about a proposal by former minister Louis Galea to restrict the party leadership vote to members (tesserati) who have a politically active role.
“I believe we should be discussing all the options,” Zammit Dimech said in an interview with Lovin Malta. “Do you extend the choice of party leadership to the entire membership of the party or do you limit it, as it used to be limited in the past, in the PN to the party councillors and in the PL to the party delegates?”
Under Simon Busuttil, the PN extended the leadership vote to its entire membership, a system which was first used in 2017 and which resulted in the election of Adrian Delia. The Labour Party followed suit shortly afterwards and this led to the election last January of Prime Minister Robert Abela.
However, Zammit Dimech noted that the PN had already changed its statute in the past to limit the leadership vote to councillors and, while not taking a position on whether it should be changed again, played down concerns that such a move would be anti-democratic.
“There was a stage when this was a decision [taken] by what we called the Party Convention pertaining to all the members, but then we thought ‘why not have a General Council that is structured in a manner to reflect the proportionality and different sociographic factors of its membership? Now the PN went back to the Convention principle and the PL followed suit. Is it the best method or not? I personally have an open mind.”
He said there are arguments in favour of both extended and limiting the vote.
“The argument in favour of the current system is that members feel they have a bigger sense of belonging, they feel they are involved in the decision making and that the more you reach out to the grassroots, the process is obviously more democratic.”
“The argument against is that if you have moved up the party ladder and you are now involved in a sectional committee working in your respective town or village or part of one of the party branches, then you are more aware of what the party would need from time to time and therefore your vote would be that much more informed whenever the issue arises.”
“There are some systems that have tried to combine the two methods as the PL and the PN have when there are more than two candidates; a preliminary decision is taken by the council and this is extended to the wider base at the end. It’s certainly a factor where there are arguments on both sides of the fence and I’ll remain open-minded about it.”
You can watch our full interview with Francis Zammit Dimech on Lovin Malta next week