To say that it’s been a horrible few weeks for the Opposition party, would be a gross understatement. From where the rest of us are standing, it looks more like an annus horribilis (though ‘anni’ seems more appropriate) of biblical proportions, than the quick succession of disastrous events being just a minor glitch, which all political parties naturally endure at one time or another during their lifetime. A monumental disaster at the polls, both on a European and Local Council level seemed like the last nail in the PN’s coffin, but apparently the grotesque shenanigans within the PN had only just begun…
Days before the Local Council elections yielded their results, PN MP David Stellini resigned 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 had to be filled in by co-option. And this is where the PN’s woes took an even sinister turn for the worse. During an internal election, the Executive Committee of the Nationalist Party voted in Jean Pierre Debono to replace David Stellini, a short-lived victory for Debono who soon had to give up his seat amid a barrage of allegations of irregularities during the vote.
If news emanating from various media sources is to be believed, it has been reported that the leadership of the Nationalist Party strived to avoid an escalation of an already explosive situation, apparently to no avail. Mark Anthony Sammut, who resigned as President of the Executive sparked controversy when he said on Facebook that there were at least two individuals who voted in the co-option election who actually did not even have the right to vote; an election which favoured Jean Pierre Debono with a marginal 42 votes and Kevin Cutajar, a PN candidate in the 2017 general election, with 40 votes.
No sooner was this news out that two well-known Gozitan members of Simon Busuttil’s faction (Yes, him again. The one who believes he’s still in charge) filed a judicial protest against the Secretary General of the Nationalist Party, Clyde Puli, to prevent Jean Pierre Debono from taking the parliamentary seat. In the judicial protest they damningly remarked that Jean Pierre Debono had manipulated this vote and effectively stolen this seat from Gozitan voters. They argued that Jean Pierre Debono had allegedly tampered with the list of the executive of the Nationalist Party and added David Stellini and PN Treasurer David Camilleri, who were not eligible.
If it weren’t for the serious repercussions for the country as a whole, this kind of dramatic chicanery would make an ideal prompt for the rest of us to bring out the popcorn. But, however much the soap opera saga emanating from id-Dar Centrali might seem like an entertaining prospect, it is first and foremost a tragedy of unprecedented proportions for the wellbeing of our democracy. A half-functioning democracy wherein the Opposition party performs like a headless chicken on steroids, does not bode well for our nation. A party which is literally tearing itself apart should not only be unacceptable for party supporters, but for all citizens who have their country’s best interest at heart.
Dr Adrian Delia has said that despite his party’s disastrous showing at the polls, he is adamant that he will not step down. And why should he? Why should he, when he’s up against his predecessor, an ex-leader of the Opposition with two landslide electoral defeats to his name, who depending on one’s choice of perspective has been outed, either as a colossal liar or as a deluded moron who was stupid enough to be led by the nose to iterate the biggest lie in Malta’s political history (Egrant anyone?), but adamantly still preaches of the PN’s monopoly on morality and intelligence. This is the same ex-PN leader who somewhere in his deluded dreams, still hopes that one day soon he will be anointed as PN leader again. Delia’s many blunders seem quite insignificant by compare.
And here ladies and gents, lies the conundrum; two main warring factions within the PN, who really don’t care if they’re simply making a mockery of what politics valiantly stands for. On one end we have Simon Busuttil and his cronies; all for the class divide, where elitism is their one and only ethos, where the belief that our people are still identified by ‘wicc ta’ nazzjonalista’ or otherwise, where sermonising instead of building consensus is still the name of the game. And then we have Adrian Delia’s ‘new way’ which thus far has failed to materialise, mainly because of his mistaken belief that he might, as some point garner the approval of his nemesis within the party, but which has only led to unnecessary ass-kissing of the many establishment stalwarts, with very little effect.
If Delia has any intention of rallying all party supporters, first and foremost he needs to man up and show his true mettle as the one and only Opposition leader; pandering to the establishment is certainly doing him no favours. Then, and only then will the electorate be able to gauge what kind of leader he is and if he is worthy of one day standing as Malta’s Prime Minister. Either that, or a PN split would be not only inevitable but the only desirable way forward… Either way, the party in Opposition sorely needs true and clear direction; not only for its and its supporters’ sake, but for our country as a truly functioning democracy. Let’s hope for all our sakes, the light at the end of the PN tunnel appears sooner, rather than later…