Delia needs to submit his leadership to the test immediately - Lawrence Gonzi

Former Prime Minster Lawrence Gonzi insists that while Adrian Delia is the PN’s legitimate leader, he should face reality and address doubts regarding his leadership head-on

Lawrence Gonzi was Malta's Prime Minister and Nationalist leader from 2004 to 2013 (File photo)
Lawrence Gonzi was Malta's Prime Minister and Nationalist leader from 2004 to 2013 (File photo)

Adrian Delia needs to submit his leadership of the Nationalist Party to the test immediately, former prime minister Lawrence Gonzi said.

The former PN leader said that if Delia’s leadership is subsequently re-confirmed, everyone within the party should consider the chapter closed, and focus on building unity within the PN's ranks over the course of the next two years.

In an interview in Times of Malta on Thursday, Gonzi, who was Prime Minister from 2004 to 2013, said that the PN faces the challenge of presenting Malta’s voters with an economic plan which guarantees the people’s well-being into the future while completely reintegrating the country’s reputation internationally.

“The PN is the only party that is able to do this,” Gonzi told the newspaper.

He said that Delia should put his leadership on the line and prove that he is “worthy of the honour to lead the party”, highlighting that while Delia is the legitimate Nationalist Party leader, current circumstances necessitate that he recognise reality and face doubts about his position directly.

“Whatever people say, he [Delia] is the legitimate leader of the PN as a result of a democratic process that took place 18 months ago,” he said, “However, the circumstances today demand that he recognises the present state of affairs and move forward to face the challenge head-on.”

Questioned on what he considered the factors behind the PN’s dismal performance in the MEP elections, Gonzi said that the results clearly demonstrated that a good-sized faction of the party’s voters decided to vote in a way which sent “a strong message to the PN’s present leader, his advisers and the party officials.”

This faction, Gonzi underscored, also included those who chose not to vote on Saturday.

“Accepting this as an indisputable fact is fundamental, otherwise the PN will remain unable to regain lost ground,” he warned.

The interview also touched upon the heavy criticism levied towards the previous Nationalist administration - such as that connected with what were considered to be excessively high water and electricity tariffs - and which led to the humbling loss the party suffered at the polls in 2013.

Gonzi insisted that criticism regarding utility bills failed to factor in that the price of oil at the time was very high.

He said that the PN’s decline in popularity since 2003 was due to “tough decisions that had to be made.”

“Of course, I am the first to admit that mistakes were committed, but the economic result we achieved in tough times together with the high international and European reputation of Malta speak for themselves,” Gonzi said, remarking that this contrasted with the situation Malta found itself in today.