‘I will leave PN if Delia wins’ says former PN leadership contender

Former PN leadership contender Ray Bugeja claims he would leave the party immediately if Adrian Delia were elected as PN leader

Ray Bugeja
Ray Bugeja

A former Nationalist Party leadership contender and vocal political commentator has said that if Adrian Delia were to be elected PN leader on 16 September, he would leave the party immediately.

Entrepreneur Ray Bugeja took to Facebook to announce that he would leave the PN if party members choose lawyer Adrian Delia over Chris Said in the upcoming final round of the leadership election.

“I have always supported the PN leader,” he wrote on Facebook. “This time, I shall do so only if Chris Said is elected. If not, I shall simply, and sadly, move away.”

Delia and Said beat two other contenders – Alex Perici Calascione and Frank Portelli – in a first round of voting which was open to PN councillors. Delia obtained 616 votes, with Said securing nearly 200 fewer, out of the 1,365 eligible votes.

For the first time ever, 22,500 paid-up party members will be voting in the final decisive round.

Like Adrian Delia today, Bugeja had aspired to become leader of the Nationalist Party and had contested the party’s leadership election in 2013 and lost to Simon Busuttil. But Bugeja was kept on in the party to assist it in matters of finance.

His online comment attracted a lot of negative comments from his online followers and other obvious Delia supporters.

Many urged him not to sow discontent within the party and that whoever was elected leader deserved the respect of all party members.

Bugeja had to take to Facebook again some hours later in a bid to explain his rationale.

Ray Bugeja's Facebook post
Ray Bugeja's Facebook post

“I think I have more than explained why I said what I said – in the best interest of the PN and because of my love for the party,” he wrote. “I knew I would attract negative feedback – as has in fact happened. And this confirms, instead of convincing me otherwise, that what I did was right.”

Bugeja insisted the PN was going through very dangerous times, when there is a risk that populism emerges victorious over the party’s historical identity.

“I felt it was my duty [to take a stand]. You only have to look at how the current leader Simon Busuttil has been treated and I will stop here,” he wrote. “I did not want to hurt anyone but I don’t want anyone to hurt the PN either.”

Bugeja’s comments triggered a series of comments against the “party establishment”, which Delia has claimed was doing its utmost to sabotage his campaign.

Busuttil and deputy leader Beppe Fenech Adami came under very harsh criticism – and some downright abuse – with people calling on them to “Shut up” and “step aside” now that a new leader, and leadership style was in sight.

While Delia himself was repeatedly repeating his mantra of party unity, many supporters of his – or claiming to be – were spreading anything but unity online.

Attempts by MaltaToday to contact Bugeja proved futile by the time we went to print.