[WATCH] ‘I will shoulder all responsibility’ – Gonzi

Outgoing Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi assumes complete responsibility for Labour’s landslide victory, says PN loss ‘reflects decisions I took over past five years’

Outgoing prime minister Lawrence Gonzi, flanked by deputy leader Simon Busuttil and secretary general Paul Borg Olivier
Outgoing prime minister Lawrence Gonzi, flanked by deputy leader Simon Busuttil and secretary general Paul Borg Olivier

It was a quieter and more sombre - but no less diminished - Lawrence Gonzi who announced that he would be personally shouldering full responsibility for the Nationalist Party's electoral defeat, which only managed to garner 42% of the vote .

During a press conference just hours after he personally conceded the election to Labour leader Joseph Muscat who will be sworn in as Prime Minister tomorrow, outgoing Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi insisted that the electoral result "is a reflection of the decisions I took over the past five years" and announced that he would be stepping down as party leader and not be putting his name forward for the PN leadership contest that will be required within three months' time.

He however said that he will not be resigning immediately, insisting that he will remain party leader for the time it takes to ensure that "the party begins its process of renewal." This means that he will serve as party leader until the party's General Council is convened.

"I will not participate in this process, or in the choice of who will lead the party," Gonzi said. "However I will see to it that the party goes through the process, a process that will consolidate it, strengthen it, and prepare it for serving in Opposition."

Asked why he was not resigning as PN leader immediately, Gonzi said that he first wishes the party to embark on this process of renewal before he steps down. "I cannot leave it high and dry. I never handled my responsibly in this way," Gonzi said, insisting that "the renewal needs to be done, and needs to be done well."

Speaking demurely yet not mournfully, Gonzi seemed positively hopeful despite the fresh electoral loss, which saw Joseph Muscat's Labour achieve a landslide victory with a majority of 55%, or some 30,000 votes. He spoke confidently about the the party's and the country's future, while however shying away from specifics regarding where his process of renewal would take the party.

Gonzi was flanked by an impassive and inscrutable PN secretary-general Paul Bord Olivier, and a downcast deputy leader Simon Busuttil, who seemed to be taking the electoral defeat hard.

While Borg Olivier directed the press conference as he normally did, Busuttil was silent throughout.

Asked about what this process of renewal would involve, Gonzi said that the party would be undergoing "detailed" internal and external analysis "see what changes we brought about, and even in what state and situation we left the country in over the past five years."

"This exercise will need to be done in the coming weeks," Gonzi said, declining to comment further by saying that "it is not the opportune time for such detail."

Asked about PN deputy leader Simon Busuttil and secretary-general Paul Borg Olivier's future within the PN, and whether they would be resigning from their respective roles, Gonzi held back from commenting directly, insisting instead that the responsibilty for the electoral result was his alone, and that it "reflects the decisions I took over the five years I was Prime Minister."

"I shoulder that, and I have said what the consequences would be. Once we have undertaken an objective analysis with calm and serenity, we will be able to see what decisions we must take for both the party and the country."

He similarly declined to comment regarding his own future as a Nationalist MP in parliament.

He however took the opportunity to thank Borg Olivier and Busuttil for their contributions to the PN. "You joined us only very recently, and under somewhat extraordinary circumstances," Gonzi told Busuttil directly. "You were an invaluable help to me."

Referring to the election result, Gonzi said that "it gives a clear message" and thanked the public for "showing extraordinary maturity in that is probably one of the longest campaigns in recent history that everyone participated in with enthusiasm, and which unfolded without incident."

Gonzi also welcomed the 93% voting turnout, describing this as a "beautiful sign" that democracy and its institutions are appreciated by the Maltese and Gozitan people. "

"The people made their choice, and the PN, like it always did, will bow its head and respect that choice, and recognise the important message it conveys. This is the democracy we always believed in."

Gonzi pledged that "both I and my colleagues within the Nationalist Party will continue serving the Maltese people like we always did. We aspire to move forward together."

"This time, however, we will be serving the people from the Opposition benches. As we served the people from government, we will do so now from the Opposition," he added.

Gonzi also congratulated Labour leader Joseph Muscat for his electoral triumph, and said that "as prime Minister, he now deserves the respect and recognition of a person who must now lead the country - along with all the challenges and opportunities it faces - for the next five years."

At the same time, Gonzi however nevertheless issued as missive of caution to Muscat, hinting at the difficulties that come with the role of prime minister.

"The burden of leadership is a heavy one. He has a heavy burden to bear over the coming months and years."

Gonzi also augured that the PN is handling the country over "into the hands of a party that is strong enough to be able to withstand the coming challenges."

Gonzi also said that he wholeheartedly respects the choice of all those who voted, irrespective of their actual choice - whether Labour, AD, or even those who decided to abstain.

"Whatever you chose, your choice is respected by both me and the Nationalist Party," Gonzi said.

At the same time, Gonzi delivered a heart-felt thanks to all those who work within the Nationalist Party over the past five years, saying that their personal sacrifice and their tireless dedication towards securing a Nationalist win was not in vain.

"They worked against all odds. But the result is not the fault of a single person. I shoulder the result totally and completely," Gonzi said, adding that "The fact that this was not the case is not a tragedy" and that the PN "will keep serving from the opposition benches."

More in Elections 2013
avatar
what A JOKE THESE PEOPLE HAVE BECOME, WHAT HAPPENED TO THE SMILE ON PAULS FACE, AND THE BELOVED SIMON WILL HE NOW WALK OUT FROM THE BACK DOOR? WELL DONE FRANCO DEBONO NOW IS YOUR TIME TO STEP IN AND FOR YOUR PARTY AND YOU WILL JOSEPH A VERY STRONG OPPOSITION.
avatar
You should have resigned from the party when the people showed that they disagreed with your leadership and you could have bowed away with grace, now you are forced to resign and leave with disgrace after you have ruined our country and ran it to the ground with your foolish leadership. Your were told to listen to the people but you choose to ignore their trouble not you have to face the consequence of defeat.
avatar
It is a pity that Dr Gonzi did not see the writing on the wall over one year ago. He made this country loose millions in slowing the economy for more than one year by playing games of taking extended long parliamentary holidays; non voting of bills in parliament; 4 weeks to call an election and 2 months after that to hold the election. Yes – now he can boast that he was in government for a full term of 5 years plus 1 day. In my opinion he was very irresponsible and he got a loud and clear message from the people. Now my appeal is to the PN delegates – DO NOT CHOOSE A NEW LEADER FROM THE GONZIPN CLIQUE.
avatar
Oh come on, Gonzi's not being fair. Without Austin Gatt, PN would not be where it is today.
avatar
Dr. Gonzi, You failed because of the wrong choices. You did not surrounded yourself by people who love you. Your wife was right all along.
avatar
Tard wisq Dr. Gonzi...kellek zmien bizzejjed biex tirranga ghax kollox kien miktub mal-hajt.