[WATCH] Delia accuses detractors of trying to impose candidate of their choice

On TVM’s Xtra, Adrian Delia says his detractors are giving democracy short shrift by forcing leadership contenders to move aside for the sake of having one candidate

Adrian Delia
Adrian Delia

Adrian Delia has accused his detractors of trying to impose one candidate of their choice on party members, describing their actions as a secretive Vatican conclave.

The Nationalist Party leader, who will be contesting the leadership, said that members should be given a free choice.

“Isn’t this an open contest? And yet, we have the few trying to choose one candidate,” he said, accusing them of paying short shrift to democracy.

Delia was speaking on TVM’s Xtra Sajf on Thursday, just four days before the deadline for leadership contestants to register their interest expires.

“This is not a Vatican conclave. Otherwise we should have changed the statute to ensure that the leader is chosen by MPs,” Delia said, adding that he would bow his head to the decision by party members.

The interview was recorded before it emerged that PN MEP Roberta Metsola had withdrawn from the race and sources suggesting that rebel MPs would be pushing forward lawyer Bernard Grech.

Asked what he will be doing during the annual Independence Day celebrations organised by the PN if he loses the race, Delia insisted he will be there to support anyone the paid-up members would have voted for.

However, if he wins the race, Delia said he will be telling party supporters that the PN had “finally broke free from the rule of the few and confirmed once again as the people’s party”.

Delia said rebel MPs who wanted him out were sending the wrong message to voters that their choices will be disrespected if they do not conform to the will of the few.

“These people do not want anyone not of their choosing and as a consequence are comfortable ejecting people from the party. We cannot create an environment that anybody who does not have their blessing is rejected,” Delia said.

He warned that the PN risked becoming a cult if people who did not agree with the few continued being banished. “This is not the PN I want,” he said.

Delia was confident that he would pass the mandatory due diligence prospective candidates have to undergo.

“I am not concerned about due diligence. I submit my declarations every year in parliament. I had my personal finances subjected to an audit. I have nothing to hide,” he said.

No decision by Mark Anthony Sammut

Also on the programme was Mark Anthony Sammut, a former president of the PN executive, who said that he was still mulling whether to contest the leadership.

“I have been approached by councillors, members and many young people who have drifted away from the party over the years, telling me they saw hope in me. I am evaluating what is the best thing to do, not only for me, but also for the PN,” Sammut said, adding he had not taken a decision yet.

Mark Anthony Sammut
Mark Anthony Sammut

The 34-year-old engineer added that given his 16 years of activism in the party he was able to understand the different shades the PN was made of and able to bring them together.

“I am from the south, where the party has lost a lot of support over the years and my candidature would be a sign that the PN is not just a party of lawyers but also open to scientists,” Sammut said.

He added that the European dream people had voted for when Malta joined the EU should be revived.

“We can give hope to those on our Left, who want justice to be done. We can give hope to those on our Right who want a free market with rules. We can give hope to environmentalists,” Sammut said.