Acting leaders and the Barra Brigade: How Adrian Delia’s confidence vote is shaping up

If Adrian Delia loses Saturday’s confidence vote, his foes are proposing the appointment of an acting leader to oversee the transition until a new leader is elected

Adrian Delia casting his vote in the European and local elections last May. The PN leader now faces a vote of confidence after the disastrous results.
Adrian Delia casting his vote in the European and local elections last May. The PN leader now faces a vote of confidence after the disastrous results.

With Adrian Delia facing a vote of confidence on Saturday, his detractors are trying to answer the key question of what happens if the Nationalist Party leader loses.

In a three-step explainer on the Facebook page PN Mill-Ġdid Rebbieħ, Delia’s opponents foresee the appointment of an acting leader to oversee the transition towards the election of a new leader.

Delia’s opponents are insisting the political reform entrusted to party grandee Louis Galea will continue for the next 12 months as planned.

“There are enough competent people to contest when a new leadership election is called,” the group is insisting.

The question what happens next, is a pertinent one that has been making the rounds among PN councillors and members. Removing Delia without a concrete succession plan has been one of the major failures of the leader’s detractors.

But as Saturday’s vote looms, Delia’s supporters and detractors have not spared the punches in public.

In an opinion piece on Times of Malta on Tuesday, Louise Tedesco, reserved strong language for Delia’s opponents, describing them as the “Barra Brigade”.

Tedesco did not mince her words, accusing Delia’s foes of pushing the idea that the PN’s troubles started when he was elected leader by the party grassroots.

She highlighted the “flawed decisions” taken in the past by some of those who now oppose Delia, insisting that at the time people like her who disagreed “did not rally publicly against the leadership of the party”.

Tedesco also hit a raw nerve when she pointed out that the Barra Brigade personalised every issue by targeting individuals rather than being critical of institutions.

“I am against all those who abuse their position and there is no doubt in my mind that the core of our government is rotten. Having said that, I do not believe that the role of the PN is to send people to prison. That is the role of the police, the courts of justice and other state institutions. The role of the PN is to ensure that these institutions carry out their work without fear or favour, something which they have failed to do,” Tedesco said.

The statement was a clear reference to the anti-corruption drive of the previous PN administration that culminated with repeated calls for the police commissioner and the Attorney General to be removed and the Prime Minister and his wife to be sent to prison.

Simon Busuttil's infamous 'barra, barra' cry has been thrown back at him by PN executive member Louise Tedesco
Simon Busuttil's infamous 'barra, barra' cry has been thrown back at him by PN executive member Louise Tedesco

‘Barra, barra’, was an infamous cry by former leader Simon Busuttil during an anti-corruption meeting in Valletta.

But Tedesco accused Delia’s opponents of continuously undermining the party, delivering death by a thousand cuts.

Delia’s opponents have been calling on councillors to deliver a fresh start on Saturday by voting out the leader.

They insist Delia cannot win the next election and should be replaced. The same Facebook page has for the past days been uploading a map of Malta and Gozo depicting the last local election results that were disastrous for the PN.

Delia is the first PN leader to be elected by members after the previous administration changed the rules to allow for a wider voting base.

Delia was elected in September 2017 but has so far failed to inspire trust and deliver change within the PN.

He has had to contend with a continuous rebellion by some in the parliamentary group, who remain opposed to his leadership.

Delia’s opponents insist the leadership has taken bad decisions along the way that have continued to alienate sections of the PN electorate.

But in her piece, Tedesco also speaks of alienation of another chunk of the PN electorate if Delia is removed.

“If the Barra Brigade don’t have it their way they will continue with their guerrilla tactics. If their wishes materialise and they succeed in removing Delia, they will in one fell swoop deprive the party of thousands of voters who will feel betrayed by a party that first asked them to choose their leader and then did everything possible to undermine their choice,” she insisted, calling for unity to prevail. 

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