Busuttil appeals for party unity as PN leadership election enters second phase

The outgoing leader of the Nationalist Party urged the party to remain united under one flag

Outgoing PN leader Simon Busuttil has  appealed for party unity in the aftermath of Saturday's leadership election result
Outgoing PN leader Simon Busuttil has appealed for party unity in the aftermath of Saturday's leadership election result

Outgoing Nationalist Party leader Simon Busuttil has called on the party to remain united, as the race for his successor enters its final stage.

“Three months-ago we were all united together under one flag. Let’s keep it that way,” wrote Busuttil in a tweet this afternoon.

The election for the next PN leader has been hard-fought, and has exposed a number of divisions within the Nationalist Party, as MPs, party officials and its grassroots have put their faith in the different leadership contenders.

On Saturday, political newcomer Adrian Delia obtained 616 of party councillor’s votes, equivalent to 46%, while Chris Said collected the second highest number of votes at 425.

Busuttil’s tweet comes a day after a number of party activists and officials publicly declared their frustration and disappointment at Delia’s victory, believing that his election as leader would undo whatever progress had been achieved by the party in positioning itself as an alternative to the present government based on good governance.

Delia has spent much of his time in the latter stages of his campaign fending off allegations – mainly levelled at him by Daphne Caruana Galizia - of impropriety in his business dealings, with the party’s administrative council last week urging Delia to reconsider his leadership bid after an urgent meeting was called to discuss allegations that he was knowingly involved in his client laundering the proceeds of prostitution in a London apartment some 14 years-ago.

Delia has denied the claims, insisting that he was being asked to answer to allegations regarding one of his clients despite the fact that he was bound by professional secrecy.

Following the council’s decision, Busuttil had declared that had he been in Delia’s place he would have pulled out of the race, with Delia questioning the council’s decision to hold a meeting in the first place. He claimed that the party establishment – of which he has indirectly implied Busuttil was a part - was actively working against his candidature because it feared “losing control of the party”.

Despite the administrative’s position, Delia’s claims of an establishment working against him have resonated with much of the party’s grassroots who are adamant that a change in direction, spearheaded by Delia is to only way for the party to win an election, and many of whom have threatened to abandon the party if Delia were to be elected leader.