Last Updated on Thursday, 18 January, 2024 at 9:45 pm by Andre Camilleri
It was not a surprise that, one week after Prime Minister Robert Abela remodelled his line-up with a string of changes to the Cabinet, his counterpart Bernard Grech undertook a similar exercise to reshuffle his squad.
The Opposition leader made some significant moves that he believes will spur his MPs to work harder as the party prepares itself for the electoral test in June – the European Parliament and local council elections.
The party is, after all, seeking to obtain a third seat in the EP election, a target that Grech himself has set in his speech last Sunday. In the three elections in which Malta was to elect six representatives at the European Parliament, the Labour Party won four seats on two occasions. In the third, the PN barely made it to end the contest at 3-3.
With regard to the local council elections, the last rounds saw the PN concede localities which had been traditionally blue, and is now focusing on shifting the trend there too.
The biggest move made last Saturday is that which concerns the former party leader, Adrian Delia, who has been shifted from the transport and infrastructure portfolio to the health sector, succeeding Stephen Spiteri.
In pure terms, Delia has been shadowing health for years as he is inevitably associated with what can be described as the PN’s biggest moment in the last decade. It was Delia who, as Opposition leader, submitted a court case to bring back the administration of three hospitals under the government’s wing after they had been passed on to the private sector. He led the case even after he was deposed from the PN’s top spot, and eventually won as the courts of law rescinded the deal, describing it as “fraudulent”. Since then, the PN has continued to fight to bring back what it says were €400 million that were paid from Maltese coffers to private companies running the hospitals.
It was therefore a logical solution for Delia to be given the health portfolio, even though this also means that his responsibility is widened to cover other areas of this important sector. Spiteri might be disappointed to have lost it, but he has been given another highly significant responsibility, that for social policy.
It must be said that, contrary to what happens on the government benches, the Opposition leader distributes portfolios to all his MPs. On the government side, these responsibilities are shared by ministers and parliamentary secretaries, while other government members are relegated to the backbench with no particular sector to cover.
It is now up to the individual MPs to make their voices heard. While, since the election, some have been vocal in their work and were frequently on the ball when it came to criticising government moves, others were less present in the public eye.
All of them should up the tempo if they want to contribute to the Opposition’s functions and serve to propose the PN as a valid alternative government.