Delia looks on as Busuttil represents PN at Independence Day celebrations

Adrian Delia, newly-elected leader of the PN, took a back seat in the official Independence Day celebrations, leaving the constitutionally-recognised leader of the opposition Simon Busuttil to represent the party

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Paul Cocks
21 September 2017, 11:55am
Adrian Delia (centre) was accompanied by his wife Nickie Vella de Fremeaux
Adrian Delia (centre) was accompanied by his wife Nickie Vella de Fremeaux
Outgoing Nationalist Party leader Simon Busuttil this morning took his position front row and centre with other dignitaries at the Independence Day official celebrations, representing the party as the constitutionally-recognised leader of the opposition.

Adrian Delia, elected leader of the PN four days ago, sat a couple of rows behind Busuttil at St John’s Co-Cathedral for pontifical mass, a mere spectator like all others.

At the ensuing laying of wreaths at the foot of the Independence monument in Floriana, it was once again Busuttil who represented the opposition. Delia did not attend the ceremony.

Outgoing PN leader Simon Busuttil (third from left) remains the officially-recognised leader of the opposition
Outgoing PN leader Simon Busuttil (third from left) remains the officially-recognised leader of the opposition
Delia has yet to secure a seat in parliament, allowing him to be sworn is as leader of the opposition instead of Busuttil, with rumours abounding that many PN MPs are reluctant to give up their seat.

The new PN leader needs to be co-opted into parliament, having not contested the last general election. The easiest path would be for one of the four PN MPs elected to Parliament in a casual election to give up their seat, leading the party to automatically co-opt someone (Delia, in this case) to replace them.

But all four – David Stellini, Maria Deguara, Karol Aquilina and Ivan Bartolo – have all already confirmed they do not intend to cede their parliamentary seat.

The only other avenue open to Delia is for one of the remaining PN MPs to resign their seat. This would lead to a casual election, which Delia’s team would hope to convince only one candidate to contest, so that once they reach the quota and are elected to parliament, they would immediately resign and leave Delia to be co-opted instead.

And as many MPs refuse to give up their seat, reports have surfaced of some being offered paid positions within the party apparatus and guaranteed support in future elections.

Until he can secure himself a seat in Parliament, Delia will remain PN leader only, unable to take on the oath of leader of the opposition, and needing someone else to fill that role.

Delia was not the only one absent from the front row today.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat is currently in New York where he will be addressing the United Nations’ General Assembly on Friday. Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne stepped in for him in today’s celebrations.

Acting President Dolores Cristina stood in for the President of Malta Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, who is also in New York.

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Paul Cocks joined MaltaToday after having spent years working in newspapers with The Times...