A triumphant Adrian Delia pledged an end to the PN’s “politics of attacks”, moments after he was announced the winner of tonight’s first round of the Nationalist Party’s leadership contest.
“There will be no more politics of attacks, but rather politics of conviction,” Delia, flanked by his wife Nickie Vella de Fremaux, told his adoring fans at the PN’s Dar Centrali headquarters. “We won’t fight against our adversaries [Labour] but will engage in a clash of minds and ideas. That way, the PN, Malta and democracy itself will triumph.”
He told Nationalist supporters to take to social media to write “No one is bigger than the party” as a sign of unity going forwards.
Delia, a lawyer and former Birkirkara FC president, obtained 616 votes (46%) from the PN general council members tonight, way ahead of Gozitan MP Chris Said who obtained 425 votes (32%), PN treasurer Alex Perici Calascione who obtained 296 (22%), and Frank Portelli, who obtained a measly 11 votes.
He will now go up against Chris Said in a popular vote amongst some 20,000 PN paid members (tesserati) in a vote on 16 September. Said confirmed he will face the tesserati in two weeks’ time, try his best to win their trust and bow his head to their verdict.
Had Said conceded defeat, Delia would have had to obtain two-thirds (66%) of the votes of the tesserati. A failure to obtain less than that percentage would have meant the entire leadership contest would have been scrapped.
Throughout the contest, the charismatic Delia has presented himself as an “anti-establishment” candidate, pledged to release the PN from its “grip” by journalist-blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia, and promised a new way of doing politics.
His campaign was rocked by reports he had laundered money from a Soho prostitution ring over a decade ago. The reports prompted the PN’s administrative council to urge him to withdraw from the leadership race.
Daphne Caruana Galizia, who has been a staunch critic of Delia since he launched his leadership bid, said Delia’s victory means the PN has essentially morphed into another version of the Labour Party.