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Covid-19 may also heal

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For all the devastation that the coronavirus is causing, in Malta it seems to have revitalised the Nationalist Party. In the past few weeks, the country witnessed a renewed sense of purpose and single-mindedness among PN MPs that not even the elections a year ago could force through.

The party has demonstrated that it wants to actively participate in the national effort to overcome the effects of the virus and it is approaching the conversation with studied proposals and, perhaps even more surprising, team spirit.

Fractures within the PN have been obvious since the 2017 leadership contest; not that activists, officials or MPs ever tried to hide it. And the discord only seemed to grow deeper by the week as division over Adrian Delia’s leadership was driving the 140-year-old party dangerously close to the precipice.

But the global crisis has unexpectedly re-dimensioned the disagreements and provided squabbling sides with a rare sense of urgency and function. Irrespective of the merits of the proposals coming out of the Dar Ċentrali by the dozen, no one can accuse the party in opposition of lacking initiative.

It is certainly far too early to say that personal and ideological divergences between members have been bridged, but the virus emergency has unblocked channels of dialogue the party was hitherto unable to and sparked the creativity to generate alternative solutions that demand constructive discussion.

That the main party in opposition is rising to the occasion is welcome news, but it also provides the momentum for the country to go even further. This is the right time for us to move beyond the tribalism that has, for so long, held back our democratic maturity.

Politicians need to give a clear signal that there is more that makes us one than a national fundraiser or an annual celebration. This crisis is demonstrating the rich potential our country possesses when it climbs out of factional trenches and puts all its resources together.

The virus found us a deeply polarised nation. Let’s make sure it leaves us a more united society.

Jesmond Saliba


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