Some 400 supporters of Opposition leader Adrian Delia have gathered at the Nationalist Party’s Pietà headquarters in a show of support for the embattled leader.
The event had been planned for a while in advance as a New Year’s meet and greet with PN supporters, but turned into a de facto rally for Delia after party MPs and officials privately called for his resignation.
Around 80% of the PN’s sectional committees, the party’s grass roots committees in Maltese towns and villages, have publicly confirmed that they have signed declarations of support for Delia.
A PN official described this act by the vast majority of sectional committees as a clear and powerful warning sign to MPs that Delia still enjoys widespread support among PN voters and that any move to oust him could therefore prove politically suicidal for them.
PN General Council President Kristy Debono dismissed concerns that the party has approached sectional committees to sign such declarations, arguing that party officials are merely encouraging such declarations by liking and sharing their Facebook posts.
Minibuses escorting PN supporters to Dar Centrali
The calls for Delia’s resignation came in light of revelations that his wife Nickie Vella de Fremeaux has accused him of domestic violence as part of separation proceedings and a subsequent leak of sensitive private data to WhatsApp.
Several PN MPs and officials who spoke to Lovin Malta on condition of anonymity have warned Delia’s position has been rendered untenable and one MP even said he was seriously considering resigning from the PN and politics for good unless action was taken in the coming days.
However, no concrete action has been taken eight days down the line and only PN executive president Mark Anthony Sammut has publicly voiced his concern, describing the allegations against Delia as “disturbing”.
Meanwhile, Delia has come out all guns blazing, insisting he will not resign but will instead work harder than ever before.
In an interview on NET TV’s Iswed Fuq L-Abjad yesterday, Delia described internal calls for his resignation as a clear sign that “I am not irrelevant, that I am bothering people, that the PN is progressing and that some people see me as a threat”.
Adrian Delia on Iswed Fuq L-Abjad last night
“The PN has always said that it believes in democracy and in attracting new people and had in fact updated its rules to expand the leadership vote to its paid-up members,” he said. “When this new person (himself) came along and attracted a historic level of support, those who thought the system would maintain the status quo of power were proven wrong.”
“Some of these people haven’t yet realised that it is good for the PN to be given a breath of fresh air, a new methodology and new ideas, that it is good to challenge the status quo, that we can praise the government when it does something right and provide constructive criticism when it does something wrong.”
“It is good to reach out to people, to try and solve their problems on the spot instead of telling them to wait. It is good to admit we made mistakes in the past, to apologise, to tell those we have hurt in the past that we are to blame. It is good to recognise court decisions, to fight and debate each other with ideas and not personal attacks. It is good to have a party that doesn’t hate people, that attacks with the intention of building and not destroying, to fight corruption but also to fight hatred once and for all.”
In comments to MaltaToday this afternoon, Delia confirmed that not a single MP has told him to his face that he must resign.
“It is a fact that no MP has come up to me and asked me to resign and it is a fact that I do not know of any document doing the rounds,” he said. “If there is a document, or a position I will take stock when it is made known to me and my decision will be in the best interest of the party.”
However, there are moves secretly being made behind the scenes and Lovin Malta can confirm a report by the Malta Independent that MPs are being asked to sign a declaration calling for Delia to step down. With the Opposition composed of 30 MPs, 16 signatures – including those of Partit Demokratiku MPs Godfrey Farrugia and Marlene Farrugia – would be enough to prompt the President of the Republic to remove Delia as Opposition leader.
An MP who spoke to Lovin Malta on condition of anonymity said they are confident the numbers are already against Delia in his parliamentary group and that a further five or six MPs would also be willing to vote against the leader in a secret ballot.