[WATCH] Adrian Delia berates ‘the few’ in the PN who stifled open leadership contest

PN leader Adrian Delia is interviewed on TVM’s Xtra Sajf

Adrian Delia
Adrian Delia

Adrian Delia says his will to lead the Nationalist Party is stronger than ever in the face of opposition from the few within who want to control it.

On TVM’s Xtra Sajf the embattled PN leader insisted that the events of the past months have strengthened his resolve to renew the party.

Delia argued that the stakes are high, noting that “the party will be risking that the few will start choosing who should be its leader, instead of leaving it in the hands of all the party members, as was the case three years ago”.

The PN leader said that the current internal strife within the party is only happening because of his attempts to shake things up, which he said, is what he had promised to do in the first place. 

“My intentions were clear. I said what I would do before I got elected, and the people wanted me because of this, and I will remain until the last day, renewing the party, bringing it closer to the people, and not persisting, but persevering,” he said.

Delia admitted that this has been a difficult road, and acknowledged that part of the reason for this was his strained relationship with civil society, although he insisted that no exterior body should have such a degree of control over internal party matters.

“The PN should listen to everyone, but I don’t agree that it should be owned, and that internal decisions become dependent on what a small part of society thinks,” he said.

Delia, who is contesting the upcoming leadership election against Bernard Grech, argued that the last thing the PN needs is yet another leadership change, especially with a general election looming in the near future. 

“In politics, you need time to structure things,” he said, before berating the rebel MPs who triggered the leadership race for promising an open contest that never materialised. 

“This isn’t an open contest… We went to the councillors to see if they wanted an open contest. They said yes, but then there were those within the party who want to decide for everyone else, and they told all those that were interested not to contest so that the only person who would contest would be the one they chose,” he said.

Questioned by presenter Saviour Balzan with regard to the similarities between the tax problems surrounding fellow leadership candidate Bernard Grech, and his own tax woes back when he was first contesting for the position of party leader, Delia insisted no parallelism can be drawn.

“There were never any questions surrounding me regarding tax evasion,” he said. “There were allegations about contested taxes which is a very different thing, but I never had any issue of tax evasion, which is a criminal act.”

Probed further by Balzan as to what he would do should Grech emerge as the victor, the Nationalist leader said that he would remain an MP, arguing that departing from a leadership role would not mean that he could not still continue contributing to politics.

However, he dismissed the bleak picture being shown by recent surveys, stating that a leadership race is not a sprint, but a marathon that tests how much a person believes in what they are saying, and how much they are ready to fight for it.

Delia called for more unity within the party, irrespective of who emerges on top in the leadership race, and stressed that for the party to be strongest there needs to be loyalty shown from all member to the leader and the party itself. 

“I would be kidding myself and betraying the party if there was a leader and I would not only not support him, but would actually work to hinder him,” he said.

Asked whether the fraught experience of the past three years has made him regret ever entering politics, the PN leader said that although it has not been easy, he never had regrets about this decision. 

“If on my deathbed, I did not do what I have done and what I am continuing to do for my country, I would have had that one moment of regret where I would have said that I didn’t even try,” he said.