Left: Opposition leader Adrian Delia, Right: Criminal lawyer Franco Debono
Criminal lawyer and former Nationalist MP Franco Debono has urged Opposition lawyer Adrian Delia to call a confidence vote in his leadership among the Nationalist Party’s councillors.
“I don’t want to enter the merits of the current situation, but I believe the best thing [Delia] can do in these circumstances is call a confidence vote in the PN General Council, which is the party’s most representative organ,” Debono wrote in a blogpost. “I absolutely don’t intend to enter the merits of the allegations that have been made against him, and I urge everyone to treat this case with maximum respect towards his children.”
During the 2017 PN leadership election, Delia proved massively popular among councillors, obtaining 46% of the vote from the general council, with his closest rivals Chris Said and Alex Perici Calascione only obtaining 32% and 22% respectively. Delia then went up against Said in a final vote among the PN’s paid-up members (tesserati) and won by 55%.
“Were he to lose such a confidence vote, the consequences should be obvious,” Debono wrote. “However, were he to win, the leadership issue should become a closed chapter and everyone should mobilise themselves behind the re-confirmed leader, at the very least until the run-up to next May’s MEP elections.”
Adrian Delia with his wife Nickie Vella de Fremeaux right after winning the PN councillor vote in 2017
“This country urgently requires a strong and credible Opposition, and even many genuine Labour voters think so. Malta is already the only European country with only two parties represented in Parliament and a strong Opposition is crucial to keep the government on its toes.”
Delia is currently facing internal pressure to resign after his wife Nickie Vella de Fremeaux accused him of domestic violence and after a trove of his private data started circulating around WhatsApp. The Malta Independent reported today that “a high-ranking PN official” is currently asking MPs to sign a declaration calling on Delia to resign, a move that could result in the President of Malta removing him as Opposition leader if it becomes clear that he has lost the support of the majority of his parliamentary group.
Meanwhile, a number of the PN’s village committees have publicly declared their trust in Delia, a move that is being interpreted as a warning to rebel MPs that PN grassroots still support the leader. According to The Times of Malta, the committees are being “pressured” by senior PN officials to stick their necks out in favour of Delia.
However, an audio file of the PN’s Rabat sectional committee passing this declaration of confidence was leaked to the press.