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MALTATODAY 19 February 2023

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2 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 19 FEBRUARY 2023 NEWS Thank you... for having bought this newspaper The good news is that we're not raising the price of our newspaper We know times are still hard, but we have pledged to keep giving our readers quality news they deserve, without making you pay more for it. So thank you, for making it your MaltaToday Support your favourite newspaper with a special offer on online PDF subscriptions. Visit or scan the QR code Subscriptions can be done online on Same-day delivery at €1 for orders up to 5 newspapers per address. Subscribe from €1.15 a week Same-day print delivery from Miller Distributors mt CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 For weeks now, the future of the PN – polling impossibly low figures ahead of the 2024 Euro- pean elections – keeps looking one without Bernard Grech as its leader in the next general elections. But, the MPs say, there is no replacement for Grech or even favourable timing for Metsola, who stays on as EP president up until May 2024, and then will be running once again for MEP. "We do not have an immedi- ate replacement, and nobody wants a leadership bloodbath that throws us once again on the rocks. Roberta Metsola has her own political ambitions – we know that it will be her victory and not the party's in 2024. We think she can be Malta's next prime minister if she takes over in 2024," the MPs speaking to MaltaToday said. Much of this strategy hinges on the prospect that Metsola might be convinced by party grandees and senior MPs to take over as leader after securing her seat in the European Parliament first in 2024. Talk of the EPP pick- ing her as a lead candidate, an opportunity that could get her close to the job of president of the European Commission, de- pends totally on the off-chance that incumbent Ursula von der Leyen does not run in the com- ing elections. But this group of MPs think they can take Metsola to victo- ry in 2027. "We are confident that she would throw in her hat to lead the PN in a scenar- io where the European elec- tions in 2024 will become the stage for Grech's exit," they told this newspaper. "The shifts in the German and French power blocs will map out the route for the next European Commission president, and it is likely that the EPP will pick Von der Leyen for a second term... that would rule out Metsola for 'spitzenkandi- dat'." The MPs said they hope Met- sola's ambitious trajectory after her two-year term as EP presi- dent will only take her towards leadership roles – the PN's chief- ly. "We don't see how Metsola could return to be just a regular MEP after her term as President, when she could well be aiming to become Malta's next prime minister. That's a serious bid, and there are MPs who would gladly give up their seat for Met- sola's co-option as Opposition leader in the House." The MPs also said there was "no way" that Grech could ex- pect to be the PN's long-term leader. "Only Metsola is the best-placed to help the PN make a quantum leap in time for 2027. Bernard cannot bring the party together nor attract new blood. Metsola on the other hand will be a formidable opponent to Robert Abela, and her success story will galvanise new voters and bring back others to the Na- tionalist fold." In the last MaltaToday-Polar survey, the trust difference be- tween Robert Abela and Ber- nard Grech stood at a staggering 25 points, with an estimated di- vide between the Partit Laburis- ta and Partit Nazzjonalista at over 56,000 votes. Senior MPs ramp up personal campaign to bring Metsola in as next leader

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