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MALTATODAY 3 April 2022

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2 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 3 APRIL 2022 ELECTION 2022 KURT SANSONE THE Nationalist Party executive will meet to map out a timeline for the leadership race only after the casual elections are complet- ed, Joseph Grech said. The PN executive president said he had no timeframe in mind yet for the leadership elec- tion process. "This is something I still have to discuss with secre- tary-general Michael Piccinino and the administration but the executive will be deciding on the timeline of events." He said the PN statute makes it clear that a contest for the posts of leader and deputy leaders has to take place after an election defeat. But Grech will be waiting for the parliamentary group to ap- point the 13 MPs within it who will have voting rights in the ex- ecutive. "The appointment of the MPs with voting rights can only be done when the full composi- tion of the parliamentary group is known after the casual elec- tions are completed," Grech told MaltaToday. "This is necessary because it has a bearing on the composition of the executive committee." Casual elections to fill the sev- en seats in parliament vacated by dual-candidacy PN MPs are expected to take place on Friday, after which the gender correc- tive mechanism also kicks in. The PN executive is composed of the leader, two deputy leaders, 11 party officials, all MPs but on- ly 13 with voting rights, MEPs, past leaders and deputy lead- ers, 18 members elected by the general council, representatives from all electoral districts, 13 lo- cal councillors, the chairpersons of five regional committees and two representatives each from the different party organs. Bernard Grech has already said that he intends to recontest the post of leader, while his prede- cessor Adrian Delia and success- ful newcomer Joe Giglio have ruled out running for the post. General council president Mark Anthony Sammut has also ruled out contesting for the post af- ter his name started making the rounds. Grech speaks week since election result: 'PN has good future ahead' OPPOSITION leader Bernard Grech has spoken for the first time since last Sunday's elec- tion in which Malta re-elected Labour to power, despite the lowest ever turnout in Maltese political history. Grech told Nationalist Par- ty radio station Net FM in a brief intervention that he was working to strengthen his party, despite his inability to close the gap with the ruling Labour Party at the 2022 elec- tions. Both parties polled less votes than in the 2017 and 2013 elections, but now stand sepa- rated by a gulf of 39,000 votes. "We started our work from day one since the election result. We now have the re- sponsibility of representing those 123,000 who voted for the PN and some 50,000 who did not participate in this election," Grech said, who will be recontesting for the party leadership. "We are looking to strength- en the party, which we believe has a good future ahead of it." Grech said he would strive to understand why 20% of the Maltese electorate stayed away from the polls in the elections. "There is a strong message of abstention to both parties, and we are obliged to under- stand why these voters did not want to go to the polls. And this is a lack of trust in our political system. I want a system that inspires trust in people, who are ready to trust in politicians." Grech also said he had man- aged to push forward new fac- es for the PN's parliamentary group, which saw voters se- lect new, younger MPs. "My message has always been that my mission is to unite the party, which I think I have managed to achieve, and to renew it – the elec- torate has responded to this positively, by electing new candidates. This election has allowed the PN to regenerate with new MPs, and this pro- cess will continue." Grech aides Chris Peregin, Ray Bezzina step down MATTHEW VELLA PN leader Bernard Grech's right-hand man Ray Bezzina has decided to step down from his role as his head of secretariat. Bezzina will be working for an additional four weeks to assist with the transition process. Bernard Grech wished him well and thanked Bezzina for his contribution throughout the past year and a half. Bezzina said: "I have full faith in Bernard Grech and I ap- plaud him for deciding to stay on as leader, while seeking a fresh mandate. The party has already undergone big changes with him as leader and I have no doubt that over the next years these changes will also result in positive electoral results." Meanwhile, Christian Peregin's contract as campaign manager has come to an end automati- cally with the general election which took place last Saturday. Peregin said: "I would like to thank the PN for the faith the party showed in me and I re- main at the party's disposal in any task Bernard Grech deems fit." Peregin is the owner of news portal Lovinw Malta, having stepped down from company CEO on 31 July, 2021. Peregin had said he had initi- ated the process to sell off his shareholding. At the time of moving to the PN, Peregin gave his reasons for the move in a 1,555-word article in which he expressed concern over the wide gap in the polls between the government and Opposition. Peregin described the PN as a party that "stopped being rele- vant after EU membership" and was now"a shadow of its former self". "But that's where the opportu- nity lies. The party is ready to be rebuilt. It must be rebuilt. And it has a leader who is eager to wel- come people back to help him rebuild it," Peregin wrote. The PN's executive committee will meet after the full parlia- mentary group is elected. Prior to the executive committee a meeting of the Administrative Council will be held. PN awaits casual elections before leadership race timeline Former PN head of strategy Chris Peregin and former head of secretariat Ray Bezzina (inset)

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