Delia’s medicine for the PN: ‘We can’t be arrogant or believe we have some divine right to rule’

PN leader Adrian Delia will not put himself up for a vote of confidence: “I’m not trying to hang on to my job, the country needs a strong PN, I want to do it myself”

File photo of Adrian Delia on TVM's Dissett
File photo of Adrian Delia on TVM's Dissett

Nationalist Party leader Adrian Delia will plough ahead as his embattled party emerges from a battering in both the European and local council elections, without putting his leadership to a vote.

Delia said on TVM’s Dissett that he saw no need for a vote of confidence or that his leadership was the “dilemma” keeping the PN from going forward.

“I’m not trying to hang on to my job. I am in politics because I think the country needs a strong PN, and instead of staying at home doing the finger-pointing, I want to do it myself. I haven’t changed what has yet to change inside the party,” he said.

Delia also said he would not be commissioning an experts’ report on the PN’s electoral loss, something last attempted in 2013. “I don’t want experts tell me what’s wrong… I want to speak to people out there, and see what is wrong.”

Delia insisted that the PN has made substantial changes in its policies and the way they are presented, describing his party as a propositive one.

But he said the PN was probably failing in the way it presents its message or whether it reaches enough people. “We cannot just consolidate our structures, but we have to open our doors wider to represent further interests. We haven’t spoken to all people, and we must give those whom we have hurt, the peace of mind that we will change.”

Delia also refuted suggestions that the fact that 60% of the PN vote at the European elections went to incumbents Roberta Metsola and David Casa, was a slap in his face given that candidates associated with the faction supporting him were not elected.

“It was not a block vote – the third seat did not come around because people did not turn out to vote. The people who voted for these MEPs understand they have given Malta a lot of benefit,” he said, defending the two MEPs from accusations from the Labour Party that they had worked “against Malta”.

Delia acknowledged that his party critics have attempted to put spokes in the wheel of his leadership. “If I don’t manage to get them with me, I will still have to plough ahead,” he said.

Admitting that his leadership was plagued by the PN’s deficit of votes and financial problems, Delia conceded that it could not be expected that the PN overcomes Labour’s red wave within just its sixth year of government.

“It is the story of our political history – before the PN, Labour spent 15 years in power; the PN was strong between 1987 and 2013, and now Labour is in the driving seat. We have to recognise this as a fact, that in its sixth year Labour is of course still in its strength.”

Delia described the European elections result, which gave Labour a 42,000 vote majority with 55% of the vote, a clear message that the people still want the PN in Opposition.

“The PN must make its changes. We must not be arrogant, we must respect people and make it our duty to win their respect, we do not have a God-given right to govern… I have been speaking to people every day, and maybe we haven’t had enough new faces, or perhaps people want to see more youth candidates, or the way we do politics is viewed negatively…

“We have to balance out this mosaic of competing ideas inside the PN, but change inside the PN has to take place. You don’t just swan into the leadership and change things overnight. It is a process. The question is whether we have the will and perseverance to carry out this change.”

With the resignation of MP David Stellini from the PN parliamentary group, Delia has now confirmed that his chief political advisor Jean-Pierre Debono, who resigned his seat to trigger a bye-election that led to Delia’s co-option in the House, had expressed an interest in being co-opted back to the House.

“I was clear that if he is selected, he will not be able to retain his post as chief political advisor. I had mentioned that this is a process that should be discussed, given that our secretary-general happens to be an MP,” he said referring to Clyde Puli.