Nationalist MPs learnt of coalition agreement through media

PN deputy leaders not involved in negotiations with Marlene Farrugia’s Democratic Party

MPs said they were aware of the talks, but they were never consulted on the terms and conditions set by both sides
MPs said they were aware of the talks, but they were never consulted on the terms and conditions set by both sides

Nationalist Party MPs are incensed at the way a coalition agreement was reached with former Labour MP Marlene Farrugia’s Democratic Party, with many learning that the ‘deal’ was reached through the media.

A number of MPs who spoke to MaltaToday are furious at the lack of consultation, with many even describing the deal as “madness”.

Negotiations were not conducted secretly as both parties had confirmed that they were in talks, but MPs expressed their surprise at the way the negotiations were conducted and the “unorthodox” announcement of the agreement by Farrugia herself on her Facebook page.

MPs said they were aware that the party was in talks, but they were never consulted on the terms and conditions set by both sides. Surprisingly both PN deputy leaders Mario de Marco and Beppe Fenech Adami were not involved in the talks, which Marlene Farrugia simply described as “informal.”

Deputy leader for parliamentary affairs Mario de Marco told MaltaToday that he was aware of the negotiations, “but I wasn’t directly involved in the negotiations.” 

Deputy leader for party affairs Beppe Fenech Adami also confirmed that he did not attend the meetings, but was kept abreast of negotiations.

Both said they were unaware of any red lines imposed by Farrugia, with Fenech Adami saying that “the relationship is still developing and conditions are still being ironed out.”

De Marco said that the only conditions he is aware of is that the PN was adamant that Democratic Party candidates contest the election on the PN ticket. 

Speaking to MaltaToday, Marlene Farrugia confirmed that the PN deputy leaders were never present for meetings held between the two parties.

Informal talks kicked off between Farrugia and Busuttil, until negotiations were handed over to the PN’s administrative council president Karol Aquilina and Ivan Fsadni, on behalf of the PD’s executive committee.

“The PN’s deputy leaders were never present for any meetings held,” Farrugia said, when asked by MaltaToday.

She said that the majority of meetings between Busuttil and herself were mostly “informal”.

Busuttil’s unilateral decision to allow Farrugia to stand as a candidate on the PN ticket, together with other candidates from the fledgling party, has not only been met with consternation among MPs but it has also sent out shockwaves among the party’s grassroots. 

Numerous MPs who spoke to MaltaToday said that they should have at least discussed the matter in the parliamentary group, not learnt of the news through the media.

A longstanding MP told MaltaToday that the Parliamentary Group and candidates were unaware of what was being discussed between the two parties.

“Moreover, this has angered many within the party especially in the districts which Marlene Farrugia might contest,” the MP said.

MaltaToday understands that Farrugia has set her eyes on the second and fifth electoral districts. 

Another MP said “the party has not learnt anything from its past mistakes” as he compared Farrugia to former MP Franco Debono, who in 2012 brought down Lawrence Gonzi’s government by voting with the then Labour opposition in a crucial budget vote. 

“Farrugia has gone from being a PN candidate to a Labour MP and she is now contesting the election on our list,” the MP said, adding that it would not come as a surprise if Farrugia turns against the PN if she is successfully elected.  

Another MP told MaltaToday that the vetting process for new candidates had been thrown out of the window. “New candidates need to be vetted before being accepted, what happened to Marlene Farrugia’s own vetting?”

And yet another MP said that Marlene Farrugia’s inclusion in the ballot sheet under the PN meant that most Labourites would not even vote for her. “Her independent candidature would not have got her elected but it would have at least potentially attracted some 400 first count votes, enough to award the PN a second seat in the fifth district.”