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Simon Busuttil wins PN leadership contest

Current PN deputy leader Simon Busuttil set to become PN leader after winning 50,3% of the vote in first round.

Jurgen Balzan
4 May 2013, 12:00am


Simon Busuttil is set to become the new PN leader after winning 50.3%,or 451 votes out of 897 votes cast, in the first round of the party's leadership contest. 

Mario de Marco came second with 38.5% (345 votes) of the vote, while Francis Zammit Dimech got 6% (54) and outsider Ray Bugeja came in last with 5.2% (47).

Although Busuttil still needs to be officially confirmed leader by the party councillors on Wednesday, the concession of defeat by de Marco and Zammit Dimech effectively means that Busuttil is the leader elect.

Speaking on NET TV minutes after the first part of the PN general council was over, Busuttil, said that the party had turned a new chapter and said that it was an emotional moment for him.

While describing the other contestants as gentlemen, Busuttil said "the party must rebuild itself and prepare itself for the next challenges, starting with the European Parliament elections." He added that the PN must also ensure that it is a strong Opposition party.

"Firstly we need to change our style and being in Opposition gives us more freedom to be close to the people. We have to go to the people ourselves. As leader I have to be the first to knock on people's doors and approach to the people," Busuttil said.

Former MEP Simon Busuttil, 44, will be the seventh PN leader in the party's history and he is expected to address the party councillors on Wednesday, where he needs to be confirmed with two-thirds of the councillors votes.

The three other contestants addressed the PN councillors gathered at the PN headquarters in Pieta and found tim e to share a few thoughts with the media.

Addressing the press, de Marco said: "This is the time for unity more than contestation. More than anything else this is a moment of closure and we need to move ahead and become a strong and serious Opposition."

De Marco, Zammit Dimech and Bugeja ruled out contesting any other roles in the party but said they were ready to serve the party in whatever role they are given. Additionally Bugeja said he was prepared to "serve like a CEO but not as a CEO." 

Busuttil won the support of half of the 901 PN councillors, enjoying a wafer thin lead of six votes over the other three candidates put together. Outsider Ray Bugeja was automatically eliminated from the race, while Zammit Dimech pulled out of the race after coming in third.

Despite coming second, Mario de Marco pulled out of the race, effectively ending the leadership contest and handing over the PN's leadership to Simon Busuttil.

"I have always been thought to bow down to the will of the majority," de Marco said, as the PN councillors applauded him. He added that the time for contestation was over and "now it is the time for renewal and unity."

Reaching out to Simon Busuttil who was sitting beside him, de Marco said: "I urge all councillors to come here on Wednesday and vote for Simon as I will be doing. I pledge my unconditional loyalty and support to our party, to our new leader," de Marco said.

De Marco thanked the PN councillors and described the four week campaign as an enlightening experience in which he met with people from all walks of life.

He also thanked the councillors from the south of the country who de Marco said remained strong despite being in a minority in their territories, while saying that the Gozo councillors remain the soul of the party.

In what might be Lawrence Gonzi's last address, the outgoing leader said that the PN is "back on track to return to being a winning party."

"This is the time for the party to strengthen itself and unite under the guidance of a new leader," Gonzi said.

"I thank all those who were by my side in the past years who helped me write more golden chapters in the party's illustrious history. What the country has earned is down to your efforts and not to mine."

He thanked outgoing secretary-general Paul Borg Olivier for serving the party loyally during difficult the difficult five years.

The leadership contest showed that the party had the necessary capital to return to its best, Gonzi said.

He thanked all four contestants and said that Busuttil had sacrificed a lot for the party, adding that Busuttil will offer hard work and integrity.

In thanking de Marco, the former Prime Minister said: "Mario showed that above everything else he is a gentleman."

Ray Bugeja thanked outgoing leader Lawrence Gonzi and the rest of the party which welcomed him, adding "I am proud of the party, I am proud of our future and I will stay put to make my part for the party."

In conceding defeat, a visibly emotional Francis Zammit Dimech said that he had submitted his nomination out of a sense of duty.

"Out of respect towards all of you here, I concede defeat and I do this is wholeheartedly and with a determination to serve the next leader loyally. My loyalty means that I am ready to serve in all ways the party leader and to the party which I am proud of," Zammit Dimech said.

In thanking Lawrence Gonzi, Zammit Dimech said that the former Prime Minister had always put the national interest ahead of everything else. He went on to thank the councillors and the other three contenders. 

897 PN councillors out of the 901 eligible voters cast their vote in yesterday's leadership contest.

In order to get elected in the first round one of the four contestants needed to obtain 598 votes, however since none of the candidates reached the threshold a second round will be held on Wednesday to seal Busuttil's victory.

The vote counting process started at 9:20pm, with the first indications clearly showing that the front runners Mario de Marco and Simon Busuttil led the race.

The PN voted for a new leader after former Prime Minister and current PN leader Lawrence Gonzi announced he would not be seeking reelection to the post.

Gonzi has also hinted he would be giving up his seat in parliament.

The deputy leadership election is to be held on 25 May while the new secretary-general is set to be elected by the PN executive in June.

 
Jurgen Balzan joined MaltaToday in 2011, specialising in politics, foreig...
malti
A very strange, unconvincing, frustrated look on his face !
malti
The lawyers within PN create their own facts and truths, by distorting the plain, natural truth. This is the old fashion diplomacy and tactics that do not work any more in an IT society.
malti
Simple Simon is arguing that at the next election PN is going to have a huge influx of new voters for PN. If he thinks that young people of Nationalist families will remain faithful to PN, as tradition has it, well, he is very wrong, and he is out of times. Joseph has a totally new way of doing politics, whilst PN remained the same. I assume that simple Simon has the same advisers as Gonzi. A recipe for another landslide defeat ! Simple Simon has learnt nothing from Europe !!
malti
Those two , so called advisers, (ex-Gonzi's) working behind every bodie's back, at the back helm of PN, are now assured of continuity, and ready to advise simple Simon, because they have anointed him ! Not to mention, the possible continuation of cooperation between PN and a brotherhood , secret, society !!!!!!!!!
chris fenech
As a Maltese would have preferred to have Dr. Demarco as PN leader. Tough Titties ! As a Labourite....thank GOD Simon huwa l-mexxej !
Zunzan
Simple Simon never won an election.....and never will. Remember Alfred Sant? At least he won an election. What goes round comes round. GAS DOWN GHAL GOL-HAJT!!
Zunzan
Simple Simon never won an election.....and never will. Remember Alfred Sant? At least he won an election. What goes round comes round. GAS DOWN GHAL GOL-HAJT!!
malti
The anointed one ! We cannot see any changes in PN. It will deepen further its traditional, deep rooted, old fashioned politics, something we expect from lawyer's diplomatic, distorted, talk talk. An even greater victory for Partit Laburista !!
David Griscti
Mr. Sammut says 'probably not' when debating whether or not Simon will be able to be his own man. I would imagine that Mr. Sammut is the Oracle itself, since he seems to know the future. Perhaps he can give me the number of the next lottery ticket too.... once he is delving into fortune telling! Simon will come to surprise you.... If he is given a chance! People who are well meaning will give him a chance, and he will take that chance.
nicholai gauci
Gass down għal-ġol ħajt.Smajt li JM mhux ser jorqod bil-lejl daqs kemm qed jibza' minn SB.:)
nicholai gauci
Gass down għal-ġol ħajt.Smajt li JM mhux ser jorqod bil-lejl daqs kemm qed jibza' minn SB.:)
Alfred Galea
The PN is dead as a door nail. Next MEP election will prove me right. the PN must not expect funding from second class non Voting paid up members. We need a new centre party. I cannot understand how they are claiming greatness when no one in the local political had such humiliation..
Chris Xerri
Wise Demarco gaved the rope to Busuttill to hang himself with it,like we say in maltese.Busuttill is playing a full time game now but it is sure that he will loose next coming election also,therefore Demarco wiil automatically have a walk over on everyone after next election and Busuttill will disaperes from politics after 2 consecutive heavy deafeats. For sure gas down in a wall.
Joseph Angileri
Sur Prim Ministr, ghandek ghax tkun ferhan b'din il-votazzjoni ghax il-PN issa jkollu jibqa' fl-oppozizzjoni ghall inqas 10 snin. Kif jista' Dr. Busutill inehhi dik il-brimba li werzqet il-bierah kull darba li tniffes. Kif jista' jkun li kien hemm dawk il-kunsilliera kollha li vvutaw meta kulhadd jaf bic-cert li hemm numru sostanzjali ta' kumitati mhux kostitwiti....insomm issa naraw 'where is the beef'
Joseph Lawrence Sammut Clleja
This decision is almost, 99.99% final and the PN supporters might as well call Dr Simon Busuttil their new PN Leader. Question: Is Dr Simon Busuttil capable of disconnecting himself and the party from the old geysers? Probably not and that is a plus for the PL in the next election. Like the PL,(well at least they tried) Dr Simon Busuttil must be his own man and start his own PN, a new PN without the heavy baggage from the old administration, which in politics it is hard to do. We know he needs money, lots of money and if he does not have all the PN supporters behind him in five years time he will be in big trouble. It has been proven through the last election that most PN supporters do not want the ex administration in power, well at least not most of them because that is why the PN lost the election in the first place. Simon Busuttil needs all the help he can get and he needs new faces and a lot of women politicians to join the PN administration. These are the years of the woman and they must be accounted for. One can already sense that in the PL Administration. So Mr Busuttil has a big mountain to climb and he must start from now. Good luck because I am sure will need it. He only has less than five years to get ready and it is not going to be easy since Joseph Muscat already has a big start on him.
xewka xewkina
is it a bird, is it a plane ... no it's simon tal-grocer back in the circus hoorray !
Victor Calleja
I think that a lot of celebrations took place at PL headquarters last night. With Simon at the helm of PN it is going to be a walk over in future elections.
David Griscti
I really would not want to be the son of any of you people below. I'd be a miserable and unloved son with a father who whacks me at every turn and who is unforgiving and unable to give me a second chance. Yes, for that is exactly what all of you below are acting like, violent, unforgiving Dads that are unable to give someone a second chance. And I guess most of you have all been hypocrites and went piously to mass this morning! Simon did make some mistakes in the electoral campaign, mostly due to inexperience in local politics and the fact that the story had already been written before he entered the scene. He has been man enough to admit it and to promise a fresh page. We all know what he is capable of.... we saw it and admired it the past. But no, for the unchristian bunch below, 10 years of sterling service counts for nothing. What counts is two months. Give him a second change so that he can really shine through?.....no, ma tarax, because the malicious, self righteous brigade below want him hanged and quartered. Why don't you all spend your Sunday watching Brave heart. Plenty of blood to watch that will satisfy your need of blinded and ignorant revenge.
Dr Anthony Abela Medici
A PHOTOFINISH ELECTION won by a handful of votes. Hardly endorsement of a political leader, not to mention that Busuttil was as much to blame for the PN disaster as the rest of the clique. What is now absolutely certain is that RCC, AUST, Joe Saliba and EFA and the inner clique of GONZIPN will remain at the helm. The PN is doomed to oblvion for years and years to come.
Aristide Galea
He won the semifinal game,but he is going to be declared a winner because the other finalist retired.It is like another one horse race with one contender in which race he can place,first,second,third and last.
John Borg
Does he have the "face of a Nationalist"? Then he fully qualifies for the job!
ernest ellul
KLIKKA rules; everybody else obey!
Charles Mifsud
Simon is nothing but a stop-gap solution. He has been chose from inside the same GonziPN stable to serve as a scapegoat in the next elections. If he manages to say as many gaffes as he did in the 2013 election campaign, those who voted for him are in for a nasty surprise, because the PN have merely changed the singer, not the song. Mario Demarco represented that future of pure, non-personal and inclusive politics, but the PN counsellors seem to prefer total confrontation. It's their choice, but not the people's.
Anna Vella
To dgriscti - People backed Demarco because although he too was not the ideal candidate, at least he had charisma and the gift of the gab. He would have won back many of the ex-PN voters who voted Labour in the hope that the PN would really reform itself! Dr Busuttil has nothing to feel pleased about, everyone (and all my friends and family are die-hard PN) wanted Demarco....Many PN supporters now feel humiliated and betrayed by this election....hardly reaching out and building bridges! Dr Busuttil can still come out as a gentleman...When he obtains the two-thirds he can make it clear that he will take on this post for a two year period. If he does not manage to turn around the fortunes of the PN in the EU elections and council elections within this period, he should promise to step down....and then really do so! I am sure that Dr Busuttil cannot be so short-sighted as to believe he participated in a really fair election to become leader? It is like me applying for a job and going for an interview when I have already got the job.....People are now anticipating that PN will lose the next elections by 40,000.....So please remove your blinkers.....What a disaster! We go from bad to worse at PN headquarters......Yes, this could be the demise of the PN as someone said below.....
Anna Vella
A Pyrrhic Victory for Dr Busuttil. He has won the battle but lost the war! Voting has indicated that none of the four candidates really have what it takes to lead the party to victory in five or even ten years time.....When Simon will be endorsed as leader, I hope that like Dr Demarco and Dr Zammit Dimech, he will show that he is a gentleman who can put the party and country before his personal ambitions.....He should accept to be leader and we should allow him a fair chance where he cannot blame others for his defeat. However, if he is unable to turn the fortunes of the party around in the EU elections and forthcoming council elections, he should promise to resign in time for someone with more appeal to be found, who might actually win the national elections in five or ten years time. This would be the democratic thing to do. Anything else is tantamount to the PN betraying the thousands who voted for it and there might be even more of an exodus if they are not careful!
Anna Vella
A Pyrrhic Victory for Dr Busuttil. He has won the battle but lost the war! Voting has indicated that none of the four candidates really have what it takes to lead the party to victory in five or even ten years time.....When Simon will be endorsed as leader, I hope that like Dr Demarco and Dr Zammit Dimech, he will show that he is a gentleman who can put the party and country before his personal ambitions.....He should accept to be leader and we should allow him a fair chance where he cannot blame others for his defeat. However, if he is unable to turn the fortunes of the party around in the EU elections and forthcoming council elections, he should promise to resign in time for someone with more appeal to be found, who might actually win the national elections in five or ten years time. This would be the democratic thing to do. Anything else is tantamount to the PN betraying the thousands who voted for it and there might be even more of an exodus if they are not careful!
Martin Scicluna
In my humble opinion I think the PN lost a golden chance to move forward and away from the miserable state that it was brought to by Gonzi and his clique. Instead it chose to have more of the same and make a status quo.
monica bundle
I am disappointed that Mario de Marco was not chosen. The PN would have had a very good moderate leader at their helm and also a nice person! I hope that SB is up to it,till now he has not yet proven himself to be very popular with the public, and his political style has been rather annoying. This could be the demise of the PN.
tony fava
With such a mediocre leader, pn is bound to stay in opposition till God knows when. He will definitely never be the prime minister of Malta.
Alex Grech
Dear Mr Bugeja don't loose time in the PN,because the councillors want everything to stay as it is.Sorry for you.
Ray Ellul
The puppet has changed but not the puppeteer.
Ray Ellul
The puppet has changed but not the puppeteer.
Nigel Lawrence
Please, Simon, DON'T come knocking on my door!
malti
PN is on the road to an even greater shame. Lawyers, that distort the facts to obtain their objectives.
pierre gaffiero
it is not want the councillors want and vote for its what the people want and if we say we want Mario De Marco than that is what we want. And as long as Simon is the leader of the PN I will vote labour because He had his chance and he humilated all the Nationalist voters.
Gwakkin
So only half of the PN delegates want Busutill as leader.........not very impressive really. Enjoy your time in oppostion guys, something tells me you're going to stay there for a long time.
David Griscti
An exceptional result, considering that there were 4 candidates, that Simon had to endure a vicious and malicious attack from many quarters, and considering that virtually all independent media seemed to be backing Mario. Delegates saw through this and acknowledged Simon qualities. He can now truly shine. It will be a long and hard road, but there is no-one better to handle it.
albert pace
He hasn't even started and did not manage to keep the amount of votes he garnered in the race for deputy leader! He lost over 200 votes out of the 700 who voted for him in the race for deputy leader! An injury time player who caused a disaster let alone playing the whole match!
chris schembri
Sorry to say but it looks like the PN have dug their hole one foot deeper and will never emerge to take a new breathe of fresh air.It looks like the gang (klikka)will cling on to their power and wrong doings internally as they had done in the past.
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