What next for Delia? Go to President say Farrugia MPs, Franco Debono

“The ball is in the court of the President. He is obliged to act,” former Nationalist Party MP Franco Debono says

Will Adrian Delia lose his post as Opposition leader?
Will Adrian Delia lose his post as Opposition leader?

The former Democratic Party, now independent MPs Godfrey and Marlene Farrugia have called on the Opposition to consult the President on the removal of Adrian Delia as their leader in the House. 

Delia lost a vote of confidence inside the party’s parliamentary group, in which he only garnered the support of 10 MPs, apart from his own vote in the secret ballot that took place. 

Godfrey and Marlene Farrugia, both former Labour MPs who left the party to form the PD before resigning last year, said they supported the 19 MPs who voted for the removal of Delia from party leader and called on the MPs to seek the President’s advice. 

“We join them in a call to consult the President so that Malta can have an Opposition leader that can instil hope and trust, lead a valued Opposition, and provide clean, alternative governance for when the moment comes,” the two MPs said. 

Delia has vowed to stay on as PN leader, insisting that he was elected by the popular vote of paid-up PN members, not by his MPs. 

On his part, the former Commissioner of Laws and PN MP Franco Debono, said President George Vella was expected to take an active role in the constitutional impasse that might follow. 

“The ball is in the court of the President. He is obliged to act,” the former Nationalist Party MP Franco Debono, said on Facebook. 

“The constitutional consequences after this vote are that the President is bound to remove the Opposition Leader and appoint someone else, acting under art 90(4) of the Constitution which empowers the President to remove the Opposition Leader from his role if, in the President’s judgement, he doesn’t command the support and backing of the majority of his MPs.” 

Debono said the criterion is a subjective one – ‘in the judgment of the President’ – and there is no hard and fast rule. 

“In reality a President could move to act even without a vote like the one of today, however in this case the situation is very clear and the President doesn’t have much choice,” Debono said. 

Debono insisted that the Constitution imposes on the President an active rather than passive role. “The spirit seems to be that where a prima facie case exists that such support might be doubtful the President has a duty to enquire into the situation, by for example speaking individually to MPs and reach a judgment. 

“However in this case it is very clear the Opposition Leader has lost the required support and the President’s hands are almost tied, he must remove and appoint someone else. This is not a political comment. It is about constitutional law.” 

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