PN elects its deputy leaders: David Agius and Robert Arrigo to flank Adrian Delia

The Nationalist Party has completed its leadership overhaul by electing David Agius and Robert Arrigo deputy leaders after the pair saw off Edwin Vassallo and Toni Bezzina in a race marked by a strong abstention

PN leader Adrian Delia with his two deputy leaders, David Agius and Robert Arrigo
PN leader Adrian Delia with his two deputy leaders, David Agius and Robert Arrigo

David Agius will take over from Mario de Marco as Nationalist Party deputy leader for parliamentary affairs after beating Edwin Vassallo by 829 votes.

Agius, who until recenty occupied the post of PN Whip in Parliament, captured 54% of the vote in what turned out to be the closest of the two races to fill the last vacancies in the PN's higher echelons.

Robert Arrigo's victory was more emphatic, capturing 86% of the vote to end up 7,692 votes ahead of Toni Bezzina. The Sliema MP and tourism entrepreneur will take over from Beppe Fenech Adami as deputy leader party affairs.

The results of the elections were officially communicated by the PN electoral commission shortly after midnight.

Result at a glance

Deputy leader party affairs | Robert Arrigo 86%, Toni Bezzina 14%

Deputy leader parliamentary affairs | David Agius 54%, Edwin Vassallo 46%

Around 18,000 paid-up party members were eligible to vote but only 11,546 actually collected the voting document and 10,787 actually cast their ballot. This was the second time party members were allowed to vote - the first being the leadership election last September, which saw Adrian Delia become leader.

The high abstention rate by party members has been interpreted by party insiders as a further show of grassroots disapproval at the current division within the PN ranks.

Delia welcomed his new deputy leaders. "Together we will be an Opposition worthy of this country that we all love," Delia said in a Facebook post.

This was a good week for Delia as he consolidated his grip on other party structures. Last Friday, Clyde Puli, a Delia supporter, was the only nominee for the post of secretary general, while former Malta Independent content director Pierre Portelli was appointed executive chairman of the PN's media company.

The deputy leadership elections brings to a close the PN's overhaul at the top after the disastrous June general election result that saw the previous leadership resign.

Read also: Clyde Puli: Salary for PN secretary general still to be negotiated

It will be a mere formality to fill the vacancies in the administrative council since when nominations closed on Friday, all posts will be contested by one candidate each. The administrative council is elected by the party executive, where Delia also strengthened his hand two weeks ago with the election of sympathisers.

The election of Arrigo and Agius also brings to an end the Fenech Adami and de Marco dynasties in the PN. Beppe Fenech Adami and Mario de Marco will remain MPs.but it still has to be seen what role they will play on the backbench. They had taken the political mantle of their fathers - Eddie Fenech Adami and Guido de Marco, who as leader and deputy leader respectively dominated the PN's most glorious period and are still reverred by supporters.