What if the new PN leader is not an MP? Here’s how they get in parliament

Getting elected as a PN leader is already complicated enough. But what happens if the new leader is not a member of parliament?

Four candidates, one winner. (From left: Alex Perici Calascione, Chris Said, Frank Portelli and Adrian Delia)
Four candidates, one winner. (From left: Alex Perici Calascione, Chris Said, Frank Portelli and Adrian Delia)

Three of the four candidates vying to become the new leader of the Nationalist Party are not members of parliament, which means that someone who’s sitting in parliament will have to give up their seat to make way for the new leader.

The four candidates are Chris Said, Adrian Delia, Alex Perici Calascione and Frank Portelli – and only Said is an MP.

If any one of the other three is elected, they must will have to convince one of the MPs to give up their hard-fought seat.

But how does it work?

In the most straightforward option, the ‘outsider’ takes the seat of a person elected to parliament through the casual election. There are five MPs elected through the casual election and these are Karol Aquilina, Maria Deguara, Ivan Bartolo, David Stellini and Godfrey Farrugia, the PD’s candidate elected on the PN ticket.

So in this case, one of the five gives up their seat and the party’s executive agrees for co-option.

It’s however a fact that none of the five intend to resign their seat: contacted by MaltaToday, Aquilina, Bartolo, Deguara and Stellini gave an unequivocal “No” as their reply.

Whilst Farrugia failed to reply, it’s also clear that the Democratic Party has no intention of losing one of their two parliamentary seats.

“No, I will not give up my seat and I feel that forcing someone to give up their seat is a slap in the face. I invested money in my campaign, moved my family over to Malta and I am not going to let the people who voted for me down. I am happy to represent the electorate and even I want to bring new ideas to the table,” Stellini told MaltaToday.

“No way,” Bartolo said when asked. “I plan on being in parliament, irrespective of who is elected leader.”

Their refusal to leave parliament means that an MP would have to come forward and give up his seat. The situation becomes a bit more complicated because of the PD candidates that had contested every district. It is highly likely that a casual election would see the PD candidate on that district submitting his or her nomination.

So if an MP vacates his or her seat, a casual election will be held. An exercise will then kick off by which the party ensures that only one PN candidate on the particular district submits his or her name. The candidate is elected and resigns the next day, paving the way for co-option.

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