Former Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi said he meant no disrespect to former PN MP Franco Debono when he infamously called him “irrelevant” shortly after announcing the 2013 general election.
Gonzi was asked about his comment during a wide-ranging interview on L-Erbgħa Fost Il-Ġimgħa last night and was shown an eight-year-old clip of Debono calling him out for his choice of words.
“When I used the word ‘irrelevant’, I didn’t mean it out of disrespect but the truth was that the legislature had come to an end and the time had come to call an election. I completed my full term.”
“At that moment, the disquiet [within the PN] became irrelevant because we then needed to present an electoral program for the people to vote on. We lost but it’s normal in democracy.”
Debono cast a crucial vote against the 2013 budget, resulting in the downfall of the Gonzi government and triggering a general election, which the Labour Party won by a landslide.
This followed a longstanding dispute between Debono and the Gonzi administration after the then MP had proposed a raft of institutional and constitutional reforms which were ignored by his party.
Since then, several of those reforms have been enshrined into law, including a law regulating party financing, the splitting of the Attorney General’s Office and a recent constitutional amendment through which the President of the Republic will be chosen by Parliament.
Gonzi refused to comment on his current relationship with Debono, saying he’s doing his utmost to stay out of the political spotlight but that he maintains a level of friendship and respect with his former MPs.