PN Insiders Warn Of Sense Of Hopelessness In Party, No Appetite For Leadership Change
"No one wants to raise the dagger and no one wants to wear the crown"
Adrian Delia and Nickie Vella de Fremeaux at the PN's recent Independence Day festivities
The Nationalist Party has been left in a state of limbo after its leader Adrian Delia was served with a marital separation letter, but there is no appetite at all to replace him as the leadership is widely viewed as a poisoned chalice.
A number of PN MPs who spoke to Lovin Malta on condition of anonymity said the situation within the party is calm at the moment but are aware it could spiral out of hand at any moment if the separation between Delia and Nickie Vella de Fremeaux turns out to be an acrimonious one.
“It’s not a private issue as far as I’m concerned,” one MP said. “If Nickie decides to give interviews or bash her husband on Facebook, then the situation will become untenable for him as it will completely steal the limelight from the party. I could live with the likes of Simon Busuttil and Jason Azzopardi undermining him, because that’s part of politics, but not this.”
“There are two groups in the PN right now; the first one is eagerly keeping its fingers crossed and hoping Nickie will do something, while the second one, which I’m part of, is appalled at the situation and hoping she doesn’t. The group who used to support him are now feeling hopeless and helpless and are wondering why we should trust the leader when even [MP] Hermann Schiavone, one of his most loyal supporters, described him as a piece of shit to his wife.”
PN MP Hermann Schiavone had described Adrian Delia as 'a piece of shit' in a leaked SMS to Nickie Vella de Fremeaux
Despite reports that the likes of PN MP Claudio Grech and former minister Louis Galea have been touted as Delia’s successor, the MP insisted no one wants to take the plunge, and for all the wrong reasons.
"The job is so demanding that the leader will barely have any free time at all, and the salary is only €40,000. Why would someone like Claudio abandon his business, where he is earning way more than that, and take on the job? People also feel the PN is ungovernable because the egos in the party are so massive."
"You need two people in this situation, the one who raises the dagger and the one who wears the crown. No one wants to take on either role. Delia and his team know this, they know he’s not threatened and that no one wants the leadership role. Its a war of attrition right now.”
A second MP similarly said that there is a lot of uncertainty about who will replace Delia if the separation situation escalated to a point where he would have to resign.
“Who would be crazy enough to take this on? Taking over the party from Simon [Busuttil] was bad enough, let alone from this mess. I know a few people who were considering the leadership or who were heavily sought after, but why the hell would anyone take it on now?”
Claudio Grech has been touted as a possible successor to Adrian Delia
The MP also said the parliamentary group has been left completely in the dark about the separation situation.
“I’ve heard a lot of rumours but everything has been from outside the party. If the rumours turn out to be true, then I would seriously have a problem with him as my leader. Well, I already do, because of the way he and his close allies view women….they don’t view women, they view bodies!”
“However, my instant reaction to the separation story was that he definitely won’t resign now because he now has nothing left to lose. He gave up his legal office, he could lose his family and he clearly doesn’t give a shit about his reputation, so what will he have left?”
A third MP similarly said that while there is concern over what Vella de Fremeaux could do next, there is absolutely no leadership challenge in the pipeline and that even the most critical PN MPs have actually started warming up to Delia.
“Delia has extended his hand to everyone and is using all of our talents and I’m pleasantly surprised at how things are turning out. He has a gift which allows him to focus on his family when the time is right but then put it behind him when it’s time to work, something we witnessed recently in his Budget reaction speech.”
Will anyone at the PN try and mount a leadership challenge against Adrian Delia?
"Unfortunately, the perception out there is that the PN is divided, but this is because people still relate to last year’s leadership election, which was unlike anything we’ve seen yet. However, while there might still be some division at grassroots level, I can assure you that we’ve all overcome that at headquarters and parliamentary group level. What I can see is MPs sympathising with an unfortunate story.”
The MP said they suspect that the rumours and reports of are emanating from Castille, as a strategy to neutralise the upcoming PL leadership race.
“I’ve spoken to Labour MPs and there are problems in their parliamentary group. Make no mistake about it, their leadership race is brewing.”
A fourth MP said Delia must ask himself whether he will still be able to fully commit himself to the PN in the wake of a separation case.
“I know politicians who went through separations and focused on their jobs regardless and if I were Delia, I’d be asking myself whether I can give my 100% to the party. If the answer is a yes, then I’d stay, but if not I’d move on.”
“The parliamentary group is working well together despite all of this and in fact I feel MPs gave way even more after the news came out. In fact, on the day the story broke, Adrian Delia delivered a speech in Parliament and MPs from the so-called ‘Simon Busuttil faction’ were sitting behind him in a show of support. If there wasn’t that sense of unity, they wouldn’t have stayed there.”
"The situation doesn't depend on Adrian, but on Nickie"
A fifth MP said that while the situation is calm right now, there are strong indications that the storm is just on the horizon.
“Vella de Fremeaux chose Albert Libreri as her lawyer and he’s renowned as the fiercest family lawyer in the country, a person you go to if you have marital problems. The rumours of what caused her to request a separation are out there and they aren’t nice, and if they turn out to be true then Delia’s situation will be completely untenable.”
“You can’t switch on and off from being a party leader, just as you can’t switch on and off from being a policeman,” the MP said, citing how an assistant police commissioner recently resigned after his partner filed a report of domestic abuse.
“There is no coordinated plan to replace him and it’s in no one’s interest to reopen old party wounds, but ultimately the situation doesn’t depend on Adrian, but on Nickie.”