As Nationalist councillors vote in a crucial ballot which could determine the party’s future, both Opposition leader Adrian Delia and MPs who oppose him made their final pitches to voters.
Delia portrayed the councillors’ vote, which is between a leadership election and a confirmation of his leadership, as a choice between the PN of the past and the PN of the future.
“The path to change is full of resistance, and while change is never easy, it must happen,” Delia said in a speech. “The methods of the past have a habit of resisting the new but we must have faith that this new way isn’t only for the sake of it but because it’s the right direction for our party.”
“People evolve, society advances and we must keep looking forward and not regress.”
The PN leader cited his ongoing personal court case against the Vitals hospital deal, his victorious constitutional case against the Attorney General to publish the Egrant report, the PN’s improvement of its financial situation and its increase in paid-up members in recent years.
He also said it was “continuous political pressure” applied by the PN which led the resignation of former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, his chief of staff Keith Schembri, former ministers Konrad Mizzi and Chris Cardona, and former police commissioner Lawrence Cutajar.
At one point, Delia spoke to people’s emotions by referring to his own personal problems.
“I sidelined my legal profession and I lost my family. I’ve cried, suffered and felt pain in silence, but every blow was a spark that increased my motivation and determination to fulfil what we started three years ago.”
Ultimately, he said people don’t want a corrupt government in charge, but neither do they want a PN cut off from the people as it had been when it was in government pre-2013.
“This election isn’t about Adrian Delia but is about whether we want the PN of the past or the PN of the people, whether we want a PN of the few or a PN of hope. I choose hope.”
‘Unelectable and divisive’
Meanwhile, the majority of PN MPs issued a statement to warn the current leader is unelectable, divisive and untrustworthy.
“People want a PN led by someone they can trust. As of tomorrow, the PN can look forward to having a new leader who can inspire public trust in a few weeks time,” they said.
“The process that started last month is already reaping fruit and it’s clear that enthusiasm is being felt in the PN once more, as many people step forward with the hope the PN can have a new leader that gives it a sense of dignity, seriousness, credibility and unity.”
They said last year’s European Parliament and local council elections, as well as several surveys, show that Delia hasn’t manage to unite the PN electorate or bring back past voters. They also cited a recent internal survey among PN councillors which indicates that only 23.5% of them believe the PN can win the next election with Delia in charge.
Moreover, they warned that the leader’s attitude and decisions against party members have caused irreparable division among PN MPs and that he hasn’t managed to shake off a series of serious allegations, which have placed him in constant defence mode.
“The PN has often been used to defend its leader’s personal situations,” the MPs said. “We aren’t ready to let the party go for an election and see what to do afterwards when it will be too late. The courage that has been felt in recent weeks will keep increasing so that preparations for tesserati to elect a new leader can start as of tomorrow.”
As of this evening, 860 councillors, 52.76% of the General Council, have cast their vote. Voting will continue tomorrow with the final result expected in the evening.