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Franco Debono had a survey commissioned asking people ‘whether he was right’ back in 2012

The former Nationalist MP Franco Debono had a survey ask people whether he was right in his “proposals and critiques” before the 2013 election

Matthew Vella
14 July 2017, 10:10am
Was I right or was I right? A question Franco Debono needs answered
Was I right or was I right? A question Franco Debono needs answered
Was tub-thumping rebel Franco Debono right when he single-handedly kept the Gonzi administration on its toes over the pace of constitutional reforms before 2013?

All this is history but for Debono, now Commissioner for Laws, it is a nagging question that seems important enough for him to resolve.

For the former Nationalist MP, whose vote against the 2012 budget brought about the fall of the Nationalist government, actually had a survey commissioned to ask Maltese respondents whether his actions as MP were justified or not.

The survey, seen by MaltaToday, was carried out in June, and had a sample of 450 respondents aged over 18, stratified on the basis of age, gender and electoral districts.

According to the data, of all respondents who voted PN in both the 2013 and 2017, 53.3% agreed that Debono “was right in his proposals and critique before the 2013 general election” – while 21% were undecided and 25.6% thought the contrary.

Of all respondents, a total of 62.7% said they thought Debono had been right in his critique, while 26% were undecided and 11.2% disagreed.

Debono – who was appointed Commissioner for Laws after Labour was elected to power in 2013 – had hinted on his Facebook wall that he would be ready to serve as MP, but later had a change of heart.

Indeed, his survey asked respondents whether they believed that “people like Franco Debono should have had further opportunity to work in parliament” – a question that seems to ask respondents for their views on the past legislature rather than on Debono returning to the House.

Among all respondents, 70.8% said yes, 21.7% were undecided, and 7.5% believed he should not have been given further opportunity. Among the cohort of those voting PN in both 2013 and 2017, 73.3% said yes, 11% were undecided, and 15.7% said no.

Debono was a thorn in the side especially for Carm Mifsud Bonnici, the home affairs minister in 2012
Debono was a thorn in the side especially for Carm Mifsud Bonnici, the home affairs minister in 2012
Debono broke ranks with the PN administration, which had been elected in 2008 with just a one-seat majority, on disagreements stemming from the lack of inclusion of backbenchers and a slow pace of reform on justice and home affairs.

As an MP he relentlessly criticised the Gonzi administration for its track record on justice reform, and after 2013 – where he was tasked to preside a constitutional reform commission that never picked up steam largely due to the non-participation of the PN – he openly criticised the Opposition and took a stand in favour of the Muscat administration.

Debono was elected in 2008 on the fifth district. His convincing vote count was substantial enough to knock out PN heavyweight and former education minister Louis Galea from the House. But soon Debono grew restless in the face of what he perceived to be a disregard for PN backbenchers by the party’s leadership, and for his proposed justice and party financing reforms.

Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.