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NEWS | Sunday, 20 January 2008

Sant’s surprise appearance triggers PN panic attack

There could not have been more of a worse case scenario, according to PN insiders who spoke to MaltaToday.
PN bigwigs were last Monday spiralling in a state of panic at the announcement that Labour leader Alfred Sant would be holding a premature press conference, almost a week after being discharged from hospital after having had a malignant colon tumour removed.
Fuelled by the thought that Sant would be announcing his resignation, the PN’s inner circle was worried that the departure of Sant from party leader, at such a crucial moment, would be a recipe for a sure defeat at the polls for the PN.
The Prime Minister has up to August of this year to call an election.
But with leaks from Labour’s inner circle to the PN now close to non-existent, the PN was unable to decipher what was behind Sant’s thinking when he faced journalists with the details surrounding his condition. It had been clear to them that Alfred Sant would return to public life in the next general conference, as expected.
Little did they know that Alfred Sant had unilaterally decided to put an end to rumours about his health by spilling the beans in a press conference.
Unexpectedly called just hours before a TV debate on his health on PBS, Alfred Sant appeared explaining in detail his medical condition and intervention. His conference was also intended to take the wind out of the sails of Bondiplus, which later that evening discussed the Labour leader’s condition. Although it could have well served t give the PBS host’s programme even more credence.
When the nature of the press conference became known the news came as a pleasant anti-climax to PN strategists who could not imagine how the coming of a new political leader at the helm of the Labour party would be tackled by the PN campaign.
Polls at l-iStamperija suggest that the PN could only win the next election with a slim majority and that it would be a relative majority, an electoral development that is gravitated by the participation of two smaller parties, green party Alternattiva Demokratika and Azzjoni Nazzjonali.
Needless to say, Alfred Sant’s reluctance to step down in the light of his serious medical condition is now being turned into an opportunity by the PN strategists.
The whispering campaign at Pietà is that the ship of State will need a strong captain to weather the storm, and the PN is fomenting this perception based on its belief that the electorate prefers strong and invincible political leaders.



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