PN insurgency seeks General Council showdown to force Adrian Delia out

At today's executive committee meeting, dissenting Nationalist MP will try to call a General Council meeting for a new confidence vote on Adrian Delia

Adrian Delia
Adrian Delia

Dissenting Nationalists will try and force a vote of no confidence in Adrian Delia at the General Council when the party executive meets today.

The move is part of a wider plan to install Therese Comodini Cachia as interim Opposition leader and kick-start a leadership race, sources close to the dissenters told MaltaToday.

The strategy is to oust Delia and have a new leader installed by September, in time for the party’s Independence Day celebrations.

The dissenters include a majority of PN MPs and are fronted by Comodini Cachia.

[WATCH] PN rebel MPs walk out on Adrian Delia, shun discussion on Theuma incident

The 89-member PN executive will meet today at 7pm on Delia’s request but the agenda is likely to be usurped by the dissenting group.

Delia lost a vote of confidence in the executive last week, leaving him a lame duck in one of the party’s highest organs. The leader had previously lost a confidence vote in the parliamentary group.

However, party insiders have reported intense lobbying over the past few days from either side to sway executive members.

People close to Delia believe they can overturn the 12-vote deficit in the executive to defeat any motion the dissenters may put forward.

Party sources have warned that removing Delia through a no confidence vote in the general council may encounter procedural problems because the recently-approved statute says a confidence vote can only be held after a lapse of two years from a previous attempt.

Delia survived a confidence vote in the general council last year after the party’s dismal performance in local and European elections.

Technically, a vote of confidence cannot be held until next year, however various sources within the party are expecting a legal wrangle over the matter in today’s executive.

“The probability is that a final interpretation of the new statute will have to be given by general council President Censu Galea, putting the former PN MP in a tight spot,” party sources said.

But people close to the dissenters expressed confidence that the procedural hurdle will be overcome and a showdown with Delia will take place in the general council.

Delia won the support of 67% of PN councillors last year but it is unclear whether he still enjoys the same support, following the latest insurrection against him.

The stand-off in the executive will be the latest instalment in an ongoing battle between the two factions.

And acrimony is running high with Deputy Leader Robert Arrigo yesterday accusing Comodini Cachia of lying on TV when she claimed that she never asked for his resignation.

At the same time, General-Secretary Francis Zammit Dimech confirmed that disciplinary action will be taken against the MZPN, the party youth wing, after it released a statement calling for leadership change.

The party’s position was criticised by the dissenting majority in the parliamentary group that showed solidarity with MZPN.

Bernard Grech, Roberta Metsola, Mark Anthony Sammut, Therese Comodini Cachia
Bernard Grech, Roberta Metsola, Mark Anthony Sammut, Therese Comodini Cachia

“We don’t only offer solidarity and support to the PN’s youths, but we are publicly promising that once the current leadership changes, young people are at the party’s helm,” the majority parliamentary group said.

Who harbours leadership aspirations?

Although no clear path exists towards a leadership election within the Nationalist Party, several hopefuls are testing the ground in the eventuality that a vacancy does arise.

Party sources said Therese Comodini Cachia, who was chosen by her peers to replace Adrian Delia as opposition leader, is likely to throw her hat in the ring.

Interviewed by MaltaToday last Sunday, she did not commit to a leadership contest, insisting that “for the time being” her role was to offer guidance.

“Whenever that vacancy arises, and it will probably arise, I will evaluate what my role will be. However, my current role is to unite people in the party and attract people towards the party,” she said.

However, party insiders said MEP Roberta Metsola has shown strong interest in contesting the leadership and is sounding out party members.

Another possible contender is Gudja councillor Mark Anthony Sammut, who resigned his post as executive president last year in the aftermath of the PN’s dismal showing in local and European elections.

Sammut has been a regular speaker at mass events organised by civil society groups Repubblika and Occupy Justice.

Outsider, Bernard Grech, a lawyer, has also shown interest with insiders interpreting last Sunday’s visit to the Mgarr PN club as the start of a campaign to sound out the grass roots.

However, all depends on whether the efforts to depose Delia are successful. The party leader has shown no intention of stepping down and sources close to the leadership said Delia intends to put up a stiff battle.