Another door closes on PN leader Adrian Delia’s bid to take up a seat in the House

The former Mosta mayor and now Nationalist MP, Ivan Bartolo, refused to resign his seat during a meeting held with Clyde Puli and Pierre Portelli

Ivan Bartolo: will not resign as MP
Ivan Bartolo: will not resign as MP

Supporters of the newly-elected Nationalist Party leader Adrian Delia are finding the doors closed to a possible co-option of the newcomer into the House.

Delia’s route to taking up his constitutional role as Opposition leader can only be achieved by a co-option the House.

But this requires the resignation of a sitting MP. Already, the MPs elected by casual election – whose resignation would automatically allow for Delia’s co-option – appear to be unwilling to resign their seat.

The latest rebuff comes from Ivan Bartolo, the former Mosta mayor, who today was called to a meeting at the office of Nationalist MP Clyde Puli – a Delia backer – and Pierre Portelli, a director at the Malta Independent and consultant to Delia.

Bartolo refused to disclose details of the meeting but told MaltaToday that, as declared in the past, he would not be resigning his seat.

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

Greeting Delia: Maria Deguara was expected to resign her seat for the new PN leader, but this will not happen...
Greeting Delia: Maria Deguara was expected to resign her seat for the new PN leader, but this will not happen...

Maria Deguara, the former Naxxar mayor, has also refused to resign after holding a two-hour meeting on the matter on Monday. David Stellini has previously declared he would not resign, and Karol Aquilina – who backed Chris Said in the leadership election – is not expected to show any courtesy to the new party leader.

All three MPs, as well as Bartolo, have repeatedly told the press they would not be resigining their seat.

That leaves Godfrey Farrugia, whose seat is now claimed by the Democratic Party after being elected on the Forza Nazzjonali coalition ticket. Whether PD leader and MP Marlene Farrugia would be ready to give up her party’s second seat is doubtful.

Ultimately, without any of the ‘casual’ MPs giving up their seat, it would mean that Delia can only hope to find one of his parliamentary supporters to resign their seat.

But then he would have to convince all other candidates on the district of the resigned seat, not to run for the casual election, which is triggered automatically upon the resignation of an MP.

Even then, Delia would have to contend with those candidates fielded by the PD on the Nationalist ticket, convincing them not to run for the casual election. Could Marlene Farrugia leverage this kind of power to extract any political gain from Delia? Again, it is one of many possible scenarios.

As things stand, Simon Busuttil remains the constitutionally-recognised Opposition leader.

Gozitan MP Frederick Azzopardi has been reported to be amenable to resign his seat, saying he would stay loyal to his party leader “according to the needs of the party”.

Azzopardi was elected on the 13th district after the constitutional adjustment that awarded the PN two extra seats. If he does resign, Delia would to have ensure no PN candidates run in the casual election, as well any candidates from the PD.