Chris Said is an Angela Merkel, not a Donald Trump. He appeals to reason and reflection. Getting to support him is like a journey which eventually has a clear destination: One with strong roots and character.
I myself underwent a journey which eventually resulted in my support for Chris Said. In the past weeks I met both Adrian Delia and himself, as I value different views and evidence before deciding on something. Both contenders have strengths and weaknesses. But I believe that Chris is the better choice.
However, my first encounter with Chris goes back to the years when I was chairperson of Alternattiva Demokratika between 2009 and 2013. His ministerial duties included responsibility for the Malta-EU Steering Action Committee. During these meetings, Chris welcomed dialogue. He was at once convincing in his positions and ready to listen to advice from different stakeholders. I also met Chris on various other occasions and he was always decent, down-to-earth and warm. He spoke to you as a colleague, and not as some inferior species. He comes to you, and not vice versa. Essential qualities for a prime minister.
His ministerial experience also showed that he never ran away from responsibility. And this includes taking responsibilities during public controversies. In such cases, some politicians take the honorable road and resign. Others do the opposite. Take Panama Papers: The Icelandic prime minister resigned immediately. Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri had their roles even more centralized within the Prime Minister’s Office.
When Chris was embroiled in a controversy during his ministerial years, he immediately offered to resign even though he had done nothing wrong. Indeed, his name was cleared and he eventually re-assumed his role as minister. Chris is a servant of power, and not one who wants to monopolize it. His politics is based on integrity.
Chris’s politics is also based on thirty years’ experience. Being a local councillor myself, I associate myself with the importance he gives to local community life. Whether we are speaking about residents’ everyday concerns, elderly persons and mobility, young persons and their pastimes, or workers and their aspirations, Chris’s experience as mayor of Nadur speaks for itself. This was a locality which was looked up to by councillors from different parties all around Malta and Gozo. It was a high-flyer in the winning of EU funds. And its Nationalist majority kept growing under Chris’s mayorship.
Another key characteristic of a future prime minister is the need to unite. Chris practises unity and values the people around him. During the current leadership campaign, he did not use the easy populist tool of blaming or rubbishing others for past mistakes. To the contrary, he promised to build bridges between different factions. He promised to keep up the struggle for good governance – the same struggle which distinguishes the Nationalist Party from Labour. And Chris is the best option to ensure that good governance is on the agenda.
For him politics is a lifelong vocation, and not a seasonal challenge. He is principled but pragmatic, as befits the true democrat. And rather than being explosive and larger than life, he opts for a calm, reasoned and decent approach. He is not excessive, but he can help save Malta from its excesses today.
Indeed, Chris Said reminds me of Eddie Fenech Adami, who had all these qualities, and ultimately defeated the Mintoffian hangover. Maybe this is why the Labour Party does not want Chris Said to lead the Nationalist Party.
Integrity, experience, unity: These three words really sum up Chris Said.