[WATCH] Simon Busuttil, entire PN leadership step down after electoral defeat

Nationalist Party leader Simon Busuttil he would step down following the resounding defeat at the hands of the Labour Party • Says he will consider whether to stay on as MP at a later stage

PN Leader Simon Busuttil said he was proud to have led a campaign representing good political morals
PN Leader Simon Busuttil said he was proud to have led a campaign representing good political morals

Nationalist Party leader Simon Busuttil has announced that he will be stepping down and will not recontest the post after his party's defeat at the hands of the Labour Party in Saturday's general election.

In a press conference at the PN headquarters this afternoon, Busuttil announced that the entire party leadership - including deputy leaders Beppe Fenech Adami and Mario de Marco, secretary general Rosette Thake and executive president Ann Fenech - would also be resigning their positions. They too would not be running again for the office they held, he said.

The sombre atmosphere at the Dar Centrali could not have been more in contrast with this morning's joyous crowd in Valletta, celebrating as Joseph Muscat was sworn in for his second term as Prime Minister. Disappointment was etched on the faces of the party executive members as Busuttil made the announcement, their sadness, palpable.

Busuttil said the party had been convinced that the outcome was going to be different, both because of the way the country was being governed and “due to the principles and values that we stand for.”

But the Maltese people had every right to decide differently, he said. “It is a verdict that we cannot but bow our heads to.”

He said he was proud and privileged to have led the party and would leave the post with a clear conscience, having done all he could for it.

"There was absolutely nothing more that I could have done," Dr Busuttil said. This sentiment, he said, was also shared by the other members of the leadership.

He said he was happy to be leaving the PN in better shape that when he took it over, both organisationally and financially. The PN had managed to fund its electoral campaign without any debt, he said.

He said he was also proud of the way that the PN had conducted its electoral campaign, which had sent the message that the country could be run differently, with good governance and independent institutions.

Busuttil said the message was based on the values of honesty and integrity,  which the PN would continue to champion.

What went wrong or right under his leadership was up to others to decide and assess, he said. “What I am saying is that I am bearing fully  the responsibility for the result.”
The election's result did not change the issues which led to it being called in the first place, he said.
“The fact that there was the result that there was, does not mean that what is bad has become good and what is good has become bad.”
On the pending investigations involving the Prime Minister, he said he hoped there would be no attempt to stop the courts from concluding their work.

He did not reply when asked by journalists if he felt he had been a liability to the PN.

Busuttil urged PN supporters not to abandon hope and trust in the party. “Although a minority, you remain an important minority in this country. The PN will continue to give you a voice and represent your beliefs.”

Going forward, the PN needed to start a process of taking stock of the result, Busuttil said. The first step in this would be to elect a new leadership team. “As leader I carry the responsibility for the result, in its entirety.”

The resignation had been widely expected yesterday after it became clear that the PN had lost Saturday’s general election to the Labour Party by a huge margin – a difference of 35,280 votes.

In comments late on Sunday afternoon to Net TV Busuttil gave no hint as to whether he would be submitting his resignation.
He said the PN would respect the public’s verdict and that he was proud to have led a campaign representing good political morals.

“It was a great privilege for me to lead this party and I will continue to cherish the experience of the past four years for the rest of my days. I leave the post with a clean conscience and safe in the knowledge that I gave all I could and there was nothing that I could have done and did not do.”