The PN's implosion explained: A blow-by-blow account of what happened so far

This will help you get up to date with what has been happening inside the PN over the past week

In the aftermath of a historical defeat in European and local elections, the PN is dealing with a major internal fallout
In the aftermath of a historical defeat in European and local elections, the PN is dealing with a major internal fallout

Saturday, 25 May - The elections

• Elections are held to elect Malta’s six MEPs and councillors in 67 localities across Malta and Gozo

Sunday, 26 May - Defeat and defiance

• The European election results are out and the Labour Party wins with a 42,000 majority, clinching four seats against the Nationalist Party’s two. The PN suffers its worst result in decades, only managing 37.9% of the vote.

Clyde Puli's comparison of the European election defeat with surveys angered party activists
Clyde Puli's comparison of the European election defeat with surveys angered party activists

• In his first reaction on NET TV, PN secretary general Clyde Puli says the defeat could have been worse because surveys had been predicting a much higher vote margin for the PL. His comparison with surveys, rather than a similar election, angers party activists and supporters.

• At the counting hall, PN leader Adrian Delia admits the PN is in difficulty and insists he “will not abandon it half way”.

Tuesday, 28 May - David Stellini resigns

PN MP David Stellini resigns to go back to Brussels
PN MP David Stellini resigns to go back to Brussels

• PN MP David Stellini resigns his parliamentary seat to return back to his Brussels job with the EPP. Given that Stellini had been elected to Parliament through a casual election, the vacated seat will have to be filled in by co-option.

Wednesday, 29 May - The co-option wrangle starts

• In an early morning Facebook post, PN MP Karol Aquilina says Stellini’s seat should be taken up by Xagħra local councillor Kevin Cutajar, another Gozitan. Later, other MPs, including Beppe Fenech Adami, Claudette Buttigieg, Karl Gouder, Therese Comodini Cachia and former secretary-general Paul Borg Olivier, publicly support Cutajar for co-option.

Former PN deputy leader Beppe Fenech Adami joins Karol Aquilina in calling for Gozitan Kevin Cutajar to be co-opted instead of Stellini
Former PN deputy leader Beppe Fenech Adami joins Karol Aquilina in calling for Gozitan Kevin Cutajar to be co-opted instead of Stellini

• The message is in clear defiance of the PN leadership that wants to co-opt Jean-Pierre Debono, who had given up his seventh district seat so that Delia could take his place in Parliament when he became leader.

• Aquilina’s post does not go down too well with the PN’s representatives in Gozo, who are angered because the pre-emptive strike on Facebook risks scuppering Cutajar’s chances in such a polarised environment.

• On TVM’s Dissett, Adrian Delia confirms that his chief political advisor Jean Pierre Debono has shown interest in being co-opted instead of Stellini. Delia says he will not leave and that the PN has to continue changing.

Valletta is a historic catch for the Labour Party
Valletta is a historic catch for the Labour Party

• The first round of vote counting for local elections takes place and the PN loses majorities in Valletta and St Paul’s Bay. For the first time in 25 years, the PL wins Valletta.

Thursday, 30 May - Gonzi calls for vote of confidence

• Former PN leader and prime minister Lawrence Gonzi tells Times of Malta that Adrian Delia is the legitimate leader of the party but circumstances dictated that he put his leadership to the test by calling a vote of confidence.

• It is confirmed that the PN executive will meet on Saturday to decide on co-option.

• The PN gets another drubbing in the second round of vote counting for local elections as the PL reconfirms marginal localities and wins over San Ġwann.

Robert Arrigo (second right) on Xtra says Adrian Delia should stay on as leader
Robert Arrigo (second right) on Xtra says Adrian Delia should stay on as leader

• On TVM’s Xtra, PN deputy leader Robert Arrigo says the PN has to carry out changes but changing the leader was not an option. Delia should stay until the general election, Arrigo says.

Friday, 31 May - Local councils disaster confirmed

• The third and last round of vote counting leaves the PN smarting after it loses Mosta and for the first time ever, Siġġiewi, to Labour.

Local elections see the PL win a majority for the first time in Siggiewi as well
Local elections see the PL win a majority for the first time in Siggiewi as well

• Overall results show that the PL now commands majorities in 75% of councils across Malta and Gozo, against the PN’s 25%. The PN has no councils under its command in the whole of Malta’s south and east.

Saturday, 01 June - Delia gets his way

• The PN executive meets to discuss and vote on the co-option. Delia tells journalists on his way in that he will not be seeking a vote of confidence.

Jean Pierre Debono is chosen by PN executive to take Stellini's seat
Jean Pierre Debono is chosen by PN executive to take Stellini's seat

• After a heated meeting, executive members approve Jean Pierre Debono’s co-option over that of Kevin Cutajar with 42 votes against 40. The result sparks a negative reaction from the PN’s Gozo representatives, with MP Chris Said warning this will not end here.

• After the meeting, Delia insists the decision was taken by a vote. He lambasts PN MP Jason Azzopardi for taking to Facebook with his criticism of the leadership and promises to lead the PN to the next general election.

PN executive president Mark Anthony Sammut resigns
PN executive president Mark Anthony Sammut resigns

• Executive committee president Mark Anthony Sammut resigns his post. He says in a statement outside PN HQ that despite not having been part of the electoral campaign, he is shouldering responsibility for the heavy defeats suffered by the PN. Sammut urges others within the party administration to do likewise and resign.

Sunday, 02 June - Co-option vote challenged

• On NET FM, Delia says that he will continue to drive change within the PN and issues warning to internal party detractors.

The PN's Gozo regional committee challenges the executive vote and asks for it to be nullified
The PN's Gozo regional committee challenges the executive vote and asks for it to be nullified

• In the afternoon, the PN’s regional committee in Gozo publishes a letter it sent to the party administration, claiming that the executive committee’s decision was null because of irregularities. The Gozo committee says David Stellini should have lost his right to vote in the executive when he resigned his parliamentary seat.

• In the evening, Mark Anthony Sammut goes on Facebook to accuse Jean Pierre Debono of adding two people to the list of eligible voters in the executive. Sammut describes the voting process to co-opt Debono as vitiated and calls for the decision to be nullified.

Mark Anthony Sammut says two members of executive had no right to vote in co-option
Mark Anthony Sammut says two members of executive had no right to vote in co-option

• Sammut says the list of eligible voters included Stellini and treasurer David Camilleri, both of who did not have a right to vote.

• The PN informs the Speaker that the co-option process that was going to happen in Parliament on Monday is postponed.

• Debono hits out at Sammut, accusing him of manipulating things and that he should have been the one to flag irregularities as president of the committee.

• On Facebook, PN MP Jason Azzopardi publishes the properties of an Excel sheet with eligible voting members that shows how the document was changed by Debono. He accuses Delia’s acolyte of fraud and calls on the administration to leave.

Monday, 03 June - Calls for political responsibility to be shouldered

• The PN's youth branch MZPN says it will be the first of the party's section to call for political responsibility to be shouldered for the "mess" that ensued after Saturday's executive committee vote that co-opted Jean Pierre Debono. It will be drawing up an internal report on the matter. The PN's forum for professionals joins the call.

• Gozitan voters, Mariella Mercieca and Daniel Cilia, file a judicial protest against the PN, asking the secretary general to nullify Saturday's co-option vote and hold another one that respects the law and the party statute. They argue that Stellini's seat should be filled in by a Gozitan candidate from the 13th district. The protest is signed by lawyers from Franco Debono's legal office.

• Jean Pierre Debono says he will not be taking his parliamentary seat. In a letter to Adrian Delia that is distributed to the media by the party, Debono says he will not take his oath as an MP to protect the leader from "those who never accepted him". Sometime later, PN treasurer David Camilleri, one of the two executive members deemed ineligible to vote, admits he was not aware of his ineligibility and resigns.

 

More in National