In a strange way, things have never looked better for Adrian Delia. Far from going quietly into the night, the former Opposition leader seems to have turned a new page.
Yesterday, Delia put a smile on his followers’ faces when he published photos of himself with his girlfriend Cynthia Galea on occasion of her birthday. It was one of the first times he publicly acknowledged their relationship on social media and he looked genuinely happy.
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While he was celebrating, newspapers were hard at work preparing their first Sunday paper of the year, and Delia was the clear protagonist.
He appeared on the front page of no fewer than three papers, more than Prime Minister Robert Abela and Opposition leader Bernard Grech combined
Of course, this was because he had just stolen the show at the annual Dar tal-Providenza telethon, first presenting a €22,725 cheque on behalf of his team and then a €500,000 cheque on behalf of the Catco Group, a Tunisian business which recently sponsored Sliema Wanderers FC. Due to its sheer size, it is currently subject to a vetting process by Dar tal-Providenza.
Some political controversy ensued after NET failed to broadcast his first donation, leading to criticism (which they denied) that they tried to censor their former leader. If this was really NET’s intention, then they failed miserably, as their no-show of Delia’s donation only gave it an even larger platform than it otherwise would have received and the former leader was widely viewed as a victim.
Certainly people spoke more about Delia’s donation than they did Bernard Grech’s speech which NET broadcast instead – does anyone even know what Grech actually said?
The Labour Party also had a field day, with PL activists and politicians arguing that the disputes within the PN that led to an internal election in the first place are still very much alive as Malta moves closer to its next general election.
After his interventions helped Dar tal-Providenza raise €2.53 million, smashing its previous record of €1.3 million, Delia took it a step further, announcing he intends to set up a foundation to help sustain the Siġġiewi home.
Few have helped Maltese communities over the years as much as Dar tal-Providenza and if Delia finds a way of sustaining them in the long term, his entry into politics must be seen as worthwhile.
However, this is unlikely to be his last act. Delia has confirmed he intends to contest the next general election, which would make him the first ex leader of a major party to contest an election since Dom Mintoff.
So far, his strategy has been to surround himself with PN activists, many of whom had strongly supported him as leader, but to put some distance between the party and himself.
He has spoken multiple times in Parliament and addressed a press conference with two other PN MPs but has so far refused to form part of Bernard Grech’s shadow cabinet.
Yet, unlike his own previous internal critics, Delia has steered away from criticising Grech’s leadership.
For all intents and purposes, the image he’s cultivating is one of a lone ranger, scarred by a thousand wounds but still loyal to the cause.
Where will all of this lead? Is Delia in some strange form of self-imposed purgatory until the election? Is he perhaps eyeing up a sensational return to the top, given that recent changes in the PN statute oblige the party to call a leadership election whenever it loses a general election? Or is he just enjoying politics with a freer reign than he had up until a few months ago?
Delia is nothing if not perseverant and nothing can be ruled out, but at this stage one thing looks certain – the former PN leader is here for the long haul.
What do you make of Adrian Delia since he lost leadership election?