Smells like an election
Update 3 | [WATCH] Gonzi - Debono election ban stands, MP floats ‘prospect’ of new party
PN executive discusses Franco Debono’s request to have election ban reversed, as MP takes to his blog to claim disgruntled Nationalists want new party.
3 September 2012, 12:00am
Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi has confirmed that Franco Debono's election ban will stand, after the PN executive resolved that the MP's actions in voting with the Opposition on a motion that led to the resignation of a minister were "politically unacceptable".
Franco Debono's request dealt with the procedure of the PN executive's ban, Gonzi said. "The final conclusion was that the political conclusion of an MP voting with the Opposition was politically unacceptable. So the decision that was taken was left unchanged."
Backbencher Franco Debono emerged from the Nationalist Party headquarters at 8:18pm, releasing no comment to the press after a meeting by the party executive to reverse its decision to ban him from contesting the next elections on the PN ticket.
Minister George Pullicino, and MPs Jean-Pierre Farrugia and Stephen Spiteri were amongst the first MPs to emerge from the PN headquarters, but they also declined to comment on the evening's proceedings.
Government whip David Agius told the press that Debono was still part of the PN, but when asked whether the election ban had been reversed, Agius replied: "Not yet."
The party executive today was expected approve a second batch of party candidates for the general elections, as well as discussing the current political scenario and the Independence festivities.
Along with former MP Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando and Nationalist MP Jesmond Mugliett - both having had already decided not to contest the coming elections - Debono was banned from contesting the elections on the PN ticket after voting with the Opposition on a no-confidence motion against Carm Mifsud Bonnici.
Debono has made no secret of his frayed relationship with the PN, despite seeking the reversal of his election ban by the party.
Upon entering the Pietà headquarters, Debono told journalists to inquire about who had financed the construction of the new PN offices, in a reference to his party finance campaign and the draft law he has prepared on the issue.
The PN's headquarters were right then having rainwater pumped out of its basement by four Civil Protection Department fire-engines, after the third thunderstorm today wreaked havoc inside the party offices.
Debono's latest broadside was fired from his personal blog, in which he hinted he might not be willing to split from the party just yet and follow Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando in his footsteps:
"The electoral law practically makes it impossible for small or new parties to make it to parliament. You could have a situation where a new party which obtains on average 1,000 votes from each electoral district totalling 13,000 votes which amount to three quotas (seats) on a national level, but would have no representation in parliament, under the present electoral law," Debono wrote.
"I am informed that some people, especially disgruntled Nationalists feel the need and there is the will to start a new political party: the Maltese People's Party (Partit Demokratiku Nazzjonalista), and its first campaign would be constitutional reform and the reform of the electoral laws."
Debono said he supported the concept of a national 5% threshold that would accord seats to a party that earns some 15,000 votes nationally. "If a reasonable threshold is established people would freely vote for a new party but not if they know from the outset it might be impossible to elect an MP, although in reality nothing is impossible."
Debono kept up the ante against Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi by accusing him of trying to "buy" his vote in the Carm Mifsud Bonnici motion, in which he voted with the Opposition and prompted the home affairs minister's resignation.
While the Prime Minister denied the accusation, Debono insisted that he had a document in his possession that proves his claim.
Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi has already gone on record confirming that negotiations had taken place with Franco Debono before the vote. "My door was always open," he said back in June 2012. A solution "could not be found", Gonzi said, when asked whether there had been discussions on the appointment of Franco Debono as Leader of the House instead of Carm Mifsud Bonnici.
Gonzi last week denied allegations by Franco Debono that he was offered a chauffeur-driven car, and a staff of four lawyers as part of the Law Commission falling under his stewardship as chairman of a parliamentary select committee for the redrafting of laws.
Furthermore, Debono last week presented a motion calling for the cessation of the use of heavy fuel oil to fire up the Delimara power station.
Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.
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