BREAKING: The Nationalist Party Just Elected Adrian Delia As Leader
'Anti-establishment' Adrian Delia becomes PN leader after emphatic victory against Chris Said
Initial sampling shows Adrian Delia has just been elected leader of the Nationalist Party, winning a projected 55 per cent of the vote.
After a gruelling six-week campaign, Delia - a lawyer and political outsider - beat Gozitan MP Chris Said, who could only muster an estimated 45% of the vote from the PN's paid-up members (tesserati).
Ninety-five per cent of the 14,735 paid-up members were said to have voted to elect PN's new leader. But One News contested the figure, pointing out that the party had spent the campaign quoting 22,000 members, which would actually mean a 65% turnout.
Delia enthralled thousands of Nationalist supporters with his charismatic style, his pledge for a "new way" of doing politics through a bottom-up approach, and his strong criticism against what he described as the "establishment" within the Nationalist Party.
It was not an easy ride for Delia, whose campaign was marred by reports by journalist-blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia about how he had laundered money from a Soho prostitution ring over a decade ago. The reports led the PN's administrative council and outgoing leader Simon Busuttil to make the unprecedented move of urging Delia to withdraw from the leadership race. The new PN leader also faced criticism about his personal financial situation, about a heavy loan from a development consortium in which he is a minority shareholder, and about his past business relationship with Labour's deputy leader Chris Cardona.
Indeed, Chris Said strongly hinted a victory for Delia will turn the Nationalist Party into a "photocopy" of the Labour Party.
Yet Delia managed to ride the wave and turned the tables against the PN "establishment" and Caruana Galizia, accusing the latter of trying to damage his reputation so as to maintain her grip over the Nationalist Party. His defiance paid off and he soared to victory in the first round of the leadership election two weeks ago.
Attention will now turn to which Nationalist MP will give up their seat to make way for Delia to serve in Parliament as Opposition leader. Simon Busuttil has flatly denied that person will be him, as have several MPs - including the likes of Hermann Schiavonne and Jean-Pierre Debono who have strongly backed Delia - meaning a U-turn is likely.
Adrian Delia hasn't been active in politics since his teenage days in the late 1980s, when he was an activist for the Nationalist Party. Yet he managed to present his lack of political experience as an advantage, arguing it means he had lived his life as a normal person and is therefore better placed to understand the needs of regular people.
Delia has worked as a lawyer since 1993 and is currently a partner at law firm Aequitas Legal along with former PN candidate Georg Sapiano. He was until recently president of Birkirkara FC, a role in which he made a name for himself for speaking out against the widespread corruption and match-fixing in Maltese football.
He is married to Nickie Vella de Fremaux, also a lawyer at Aequitas, and the two have five children and live in Siggiewi.