[WATCH] As PN General Council votes for leadership race, Delia declares he will run again

839 vote for new leadership race, 659 vote for Delia’s one-horse race

Adrian Delia still wants to run for leader. Photo by James Bianchi
Adrian Delia still wants to run for leader. Photo by James Bianchi

The Nationalist Party’s councillors have voted to kick-start a new leadership election among all paid-up members. 

Opposition leader Adrian Delia lost the vote in which he hoped councillors would allow him to stand in a one-horse race where members would have to renew their confidence in his leadership.

Delia has already said that in the eventuality of a leadership contest he would contest. 

But at 839 votes (55.6%) to 659, the fact that a substantial number of councillors were not entirely comfortable with a leadership race just two years before the next general election, shows that Adrian Delia could still have staying power in the General Council.

Delia at 9pm confirmed he will stand in the election. “I have faith in our members... it will be a choice by the many, not the few, who will determine the party’s destiny.” 

Delia said he would respect the forthcoming democratic vote, and pledged his support for the new party leader. “If you do vote for me as leader, I promise you changes which you have long called for – it will be a ‘new way with new people’, a PN led by the many, not the few,” he said. 

Chris Said (centre) and Karol Aquilina (right) address a press conference hailing the vote
Chris Said (centre) and Karol Aquilina (right) address a press conference hailing the vote

Delia said he could not deny paid-up members a chance to vote for him in an election, and ruled out resigning. 

He also said he refused to be cowed into not contesting the election, when MPs like Chris Said and Jason Azzopardi had actively worked to have him deposed from leader. “This result is clearly a vote of confidence in our members, in democracy... I could have chosen not to go with this motion, but I respect democracy, and I respect this vote.”

Delia did not delve into any problems of “due diligence” he might encounter when the party will have to vet leadership candidates. “I am the most scrutinised of party leaders... those who have accusations to make should be ready to substantiate them.”

Nationalist MP Chris Said, who led the rebel backbenchers in their revolt, said Delia could not ignore the fact that two-thirds of the General Council had voted for a new leadership election. 

“This is a clear message, a third vote of its kind... this is a substantial majority in the General Council, the party’s highest organ,” Said said, flanked by Nationalist MP Karol Aquilina. 

Said insisted this was a vote of no-confidence in Delia when told by MaltaToday that Delia could still be satisfied with the outcome of the vote. 

Said said the forthcoming members’ vote would be respected, even should Delia be elected once again in the general convention. “There are valid candidates out there, who are ready to serve as PN leader. This country needs a strong and credible Opposition.” 

Said said he would be “loyal to the party and the country” when asked whether he could work with Delia should he be re-elected. 

With a turnout of 1,509, 92.5% of councillors cast their vote. 1,630 councillors were eligible to vote. 11 votes were invalid. The result was announced by the head of the electoral commission Peter Fenech. 

Early voting took place on Wednesday when 484 councillors cast their ballot, and on Friday in the opening session of the general council when another 376 councillors voted.

Several candidates have shown an interest to contest the leadership, including Bernard Grech, Therese Comodini Cachia, Mark Anthony Sammut, Roberta Metsola and Alex Perici Calascione. 

Delia’s opponents, led by 19 parliamentary group members had lobbied for a leadership race. A move to depose Delia from the role of Opposition leader failed after the President ruled that he could not act as long as Delia remained party leader.