[WATCH] Delia on Net’s Fenech Adami fundraiser makes it clear he will not step down

As PN burns, NET TV uses Eddie Fenech Adami’s birthday to recall glory days in TV fundraiser while party faces internal turmoil

Adrian Delia appeared on Net TV during a live fund-raiser to address the issues affecting his leadership
Adrian Delia appeared on Net TV during a live fund-raiser to address the issues affecting his leadership

The embattled leader of the Nationalist Party, Adrian Delia, appeared on a party TV fundraiser tonight on Net TV to pay tribute to Eddie Fenech Adami, the former PN prime minister who turned 86 today.

But speaking after a day of crisis in which 17 MPs publicly denounced Delia after he emerged from a PN parliamentary group publicly declaring he will not heed calls for resignation, the PN leader made a pitch for his legitimacy by appealing to the membership base that had elected him in the first place.

Delia said he will be loyal to those who had elected him to the position of leader. “The easiest thing when you see everything against you would be to give up. And then what? Who? What will happen next? I would be betraying those who wanted the PN to become their party once again, if I don’t stay close to them.”

Delia said the PN faced “not just a test” but a final decision as to whether people wanted the PN to be a “people’s party or the party of the few”, his dig at the parliamentary group rebellion he faced today.

“The question at this point is: which PN are we talking about,” Delia said, as he rued his party’s inability to show unity in the face of a situation where the country's own institutions were being weakened. “I will not close the door on anybody. I will invite everyone to take part in the change in the PN’s mentality. But the change has to come from everyone inside the PN.”

Delia told Net audiences to remember the personal sacrifice Eddie Fenech Adami had made in his bid to be of service to his own country.

“I came to the PN after enduring massive electoral losses and an unpleasant financial situation. It was at that moment that I felt I could serve the people better. I thought then that the PN government in its twilight and its first years in Opposition, had turned the party into some people’s own possession… I wanted to give the PN back to the people. My principle message was that nobody was greater than the party.

“There’s been continuous problems from people who did not want to accept this reality… these are not political developments but a battle, to define what the PN stands for. Our quest should be to search for the PN’s soul, whose party is this? The PN is the members’, the people who believe this party is the best tool this country has to better itself, who wanted us to change the direction of this party.”

Delia used Fenech Adami’s famous motto “to serve” to describe his own political mission. “When a party thinks it has a God-given right to govern, when it feels entitled to such arrogance… then it would be betraying its missin to serve,” Delia said.

NET TV uses Eddie Fenech Adami's birthday to raise funds
NET TV uses Eddie Fenech Adami's birthday to raise funds

Net TV fund-raiser

In the sanitised world of political party media nothing beats the strategy to churn out footage of the glory days to try and galvanise supporters.

And that is what NET TV has been doing today, opting to use Eddie Fenech Adami’s 86th birthday to raise funds for the party.

Veteran PN activists and politicians who worked with Fenech Adami were rolled out to reminisce about the glory days, oblivious of the serious turmoil the party faced.

With party leader Adrian Delia facing an open rebellion among his own MPs and a request by Louis Galea for the executive to initiate the process for a change in leadership, NET TV was soliciting donations from party supporters.

Fenech Adami represents the PN’s glory days and his last election at the helm of the party in 2003 was the last time the PN won an absolute majority in the country. In the 2008 election the PN won by a whisker and could only muster a relative majority.

The station tried to tug at the heartstrings of PN supporters with footage of Fenech Adami from the tumultuous 1980s and later on in the run up to the 2003 election that sealed Malta’s fate in the European Union.

In a complete state of denial, there was no reference to the tumultuous day that started with Jason Azzopardi’s outburst following Delia’s insistence that he will be leading the PN into the next general election despite having given his parliamentary group a different impression.

Secretary general Clyde Puli and deputy leader Robert Arrigo, who announced his resignation earlier in the day, also made an appearance but there was no reference to the events of the day.

For a political party, and one facing an existential crisis, any occasion is an opportunity to raise funds and alienate supporters from its current troubles.

PN crisis

Earlier, President George Vella cancelled a meeting with Nationalist Party MPs in what after summoning them the party faces a leadership crisis that could see Adrian Delia lose his post as Opposition leader. It is understood that the meeting was cancelled as MPs were on their way.

The President is empowered by the Constitution to remove the leader of the Opposition if whoever occupies the role no longer commands the support of the majority of MPs on the Opposition benches. To do so, a replacement will have to be found.

Earlier today, a majority of MPs forming part of the PN parliamentary group asked Delia to step down. This was followed by a request to the party executive by Louis Galea, who was entrusted with the PN reform, to initiate a process for a change in leadership.

MaltaToday had reported that MPs Hermann Schiavone and Jason Azzopardi were among the first to be summoned.

The leadership crisis came to a head after Delia yesterday told MaltaToday after a parliamentary group meeting that he will be leading the PN into the next general election. Just minutes before he gave his MPs the impression that he would think about resigning.

The crisis was exacerbated by the results of a MaltaToday survey released last Sunday, which showed Delia obtaining the worst trust rating in two years.

READ ALSO: The trust figures that spell trouble for Adrian Delia and the PN