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Is this the best one can do?

Someone who made his success and loads of money and now wants to get to the top, may not necessarily be the right chap for the job of Opposition leader

saviour_balzan
Saviour Balzan
17 July 2017, 7:31am
Adrian Delia
Adrian Delia
So it seems that the grassroots of the Nationalist Party are getting very hot for PN leadership hopeful Adrian Delia. It seems that the notion of an outsider coming in and rejuvenating the party has caught their fancy.

Unknown to them is that Adrian Delia, of the law firm Aequitas, does not only come with a certain upper middle class pedigree, but is also an established businessman with wide interests that may well be best described by the media (not the Independent) as political baggage.

Baggage in politics does not work well, most especially if you are up against an organized party structure that dismembers political foes with relish. Delia’s candidature sounds like good news to those who want to turn their back on the PN’s poison-pen strategy of the last years. But no sooner had he announced his nomination than those who knew him started waving flags about his history, some detailing episodes of his behaviour at Birkirkara FC.

It is apparent that his nomination was also not supported by PN leader Simon Busuttil, who to be fair also chose not to embrace the other candidates, although it appears he would have preferred seeing 6PM plc CEO Ivan Bartolo take a stab at the leadership.

Still, it is clear that Delia comes over as a solid candidate with the kind of appeal to win an election in the eyes of the wider PN membership. The Nationalists, like everyone else in politics, like to win. Which is why they think that Delia has all the ingredients for thrashing Muscat or his future protégé.

Delia may have made a minor mistake by making known his team, on one side Kirsty Debono (wife of outgoing assistant secretary-general and MP Jean Pierre Debono) and MP Clyde Puli, as possible deputy leaders, and also Pierre Portelli, the content editor of The Independent, for a possible secretary-general bid.

The three have made it rather obvious where they stand, and of course one can see where Portelli could fit in the new set up at Pietà. Some have also said that if Delia were elected, he would invite government consultant Lou Bondì to involve himself in the PN media. Interesting, considering that Busuttil had snubbed Bondì after the election.

Delia’s chances of winning are not slim, but his election will take the PN into a new stratosphere. 

Delia is not a politician, but an ambitious professional who has made his hundreds of thousands fairly and squarely, and has enough financial backing to give the job its full-time attention. However, when it comes to political understanding or depth to take the project forward, he is an untested character.

Sure, he has the finesse of a lawyer [he works in the same law firm of one-time PN candidate Georg Sapiano], and that requires someone to be ruthless, intelligent and calculating. Can someone whose career as an aggressive negotiator with serious business interests, suddenly become the leader of the Christian Democratic party? That is a fair question for PN members.

The other factor to keep in mind is the long drawn-out campaign in the month of August, at a time when the PN has suffered a massive loss and does not seem interested in a proper analysis of the loss.

Once he announced he was giving up the leadership, Simon Busuttil should have done three things.  

First and foremost, he should have appointed an independent commission to investigate the reason behind yet another disastrous national electoral result; secondly he should also have announced the appointment of a caretaker leader and thirdly, he should have ensured that the election for a new leader takes place before the end of summer.

It seems that in spite of the consummate beating at the polls, most Nationalist MPs do not even have the gall to spell this out to Simon Busuttil.

It is an open secret that Busuttil has never been one to consult and most of his decisions have been unilateral and always knee-jerk in style. Critics will quickly point to Busuttil being a Sant-type leader for the PN.

His decision not to allow a free vote on marriage equality of course was not a result of Nationalist MPs being in agreement with gay marriage. On the contrary – like most in the Labour ranks – they did not agree and simply went along and did what had to be done, that is, choose party unity. But it seems they come from a different party, where conservative thinking and traditional values still mean a lot in the PN.

Edwin Vassallo was singular only in being true to himself and breaking ranks on the vote.

Because the wide church in the PN of Eddie Fenech Adami and to a certain extent also that of Lawrence Gonzi, was changed with Simon Busuttil, who demanded that MPs fall in line with his actions perhaps much the same way as Labour MPs appear unquestioning of Joseph Muscat. Of course, that takes a certain kind of leader.

Even last week’s request for a magisterial inquiry on money laundering against Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi came not only one year too late (it should have been his first move back in April 2016) but also after the electorate snubbed Busuttil on this particular campaign.

Sure, that battle may have been lost, but should Busuttil have gone charging back without the cavalry backing him? Consider the fact that no press conference was given by Busuttil when he filed the protest, and it also came on the day that Magistrate Doreen Clarke requested that Busuttil shed light on the FIAU leaks – a punishable offence as it is.

Something tells me that some bitterness played a part, especially after being upstaged by the shotgun parliamentary debate on gay marriage.

So who will be the next leader of the PN, to be chosen by over 22,000 signed-up members? If it is to be Adrian Delia, then really many PN voters will feel what many French felt at the last election when they looked at their party and said, do I really want to be part of this? The end result was a man called Emanuel Macron. And the end of the traditional parties.

Is Delia qualified for politics? Someone who made his success and loads of money and now wants to get to the top, may not necessarily be the right chap for the job of Opposition leader. The PN’s grassroots should be aware of this. It would be a sad day for democracy, if they fail to pick the right leader to confront the Muscat tsunami.

saviour_balzan
Saviour Balzan is the founder and co-owner of MaltaToday. He has reported on Maltese poli...
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