So there we have it. At a time when Malta desperately needs a strong party in Opposition, the least popular leader in the Nationalist Party’s history has just become infinitely weaker.
Adrian Delia’s wife - the person who has known him most intimately for the past 17 years - has gone from being his biggest cheerleader to his worst enemy.
Adding to an already long list of damaging allegations that have haunted Delia since day one, he now has his own wife upping the ante with serious criminal accusations of domestic violence.
You’d think it can’t really get much worse than this. But it can. And it will. That’s what happens in bitter acrimonious marital separations. This is actually just the start. Wait till she says what triggered the separation in the first place and starts revealing some of his deepest, darkest secrets that hit at the heart of his integrity.
There are no two ways about it: Delia needs to get out now, before it gets any worse for him, his children, his party and the country as a whole. His position is untenable, whether or not the accusations against him are true.
After all, who is going to decide if they’re true? His children? Is that what he wants? For the children to be thrust even further into the spotlight and their testimonies to be made public? Does he want to force them to tell the public their mother is a liar or their father is an abuser?
This is not just a question of stepping down until he clears his name either. That ship has sailed. You don't just bounce back from domestic abuse allegations made by your wife - not when you're a politician. That's just the way things work, which is why people in the public eye have a huge interest in keeping their families together. The alternative is simply too risky.
If Nickie Vella De Fremeaux’s version of events is true, Delia’s entire family asked him not to run for PN leader and also begged him to leave at various junctures since he was elected. He should’ve known this wouldn’t end well. You simply can’t do a job like this when the people who should be supporting you most do not want you to do it.
Insisting on keeping his family in the public eye, even now, just makes Delia look heartless, which is particularly problematic considering the specific accusations against him.
Insisting on keeping his family in the public eye, even now, just makes Delia look heartless, which is particularly problematic considering the specific accusations against him. It’s bad enough he let it get to this stage. He should have stepped down, at least temporarily, the minute his marriage fell apart and spared his family the ordeal.
Another thing that doesn’t help Delia is the threat he made yesterday against those he says are trying to undermine his leadership. Who is he referring to exactly? His wife? Because she's the one making these allegations in court. Does he really want to be telling us he's going to retaliate against her?
It really is a disaster. Any sane man would step out now before it gets any worse. But instead, Delia seems to be persisting.
And for what? To be remembered for the worst electoral result in the Nationalist Party’s history? Since he took over the party, support for the PN has halved. And though there were some recent improvements in the polls, they were still nowhere near a proper recovery.
When he was one of four terrible candidates for PN leadership, I argued that he was the only one worth a shot. But as time passed, his prospects have only soured. He has done almost nothing to capture the imagination of voters. He has failed to unite his parliamentary group, let alone his party membership. And now even his wife has turned against him.
Delia is still miles away from persuading many fervent Nationalists to give him a chance. Surely he doesn’t think he has a better chance of doing so when he also has to convince them he doesn't beat up his wife on a regular basis in front of his children.
What exactly are Delia and his few remaining supporters thinking? That he can lead his party to the polls embattled by these gruesome accusations? Does he really think this is what the Nationalist Party needs when it is already in the worst shape it has ever been? Does he seriously believe he can concentrate on a campaign when he’s already held up in damage control?
And how is he expected to hold the government to account when he is facing worse accusations than he can ever hope to level against them? Isn't it already problematic enough that we're discussing his separation while we should be scrutinising the government's here-take-this-public-land-and-turn-it-into-generations-of-wealth-for-your-family deal with Corinthia?
It's outrageous. Something needs to change and it needs to happen fast. Each day Delia persists in sticking to his seat, is a wasted day for the person who will replace him. And time is pressing because there are only five months left until the European Parliament and local council elections.
Each day Delia persists in sticking to his seat, is a wasted day for the person who will replace him. And time is pressing because there are only five months left until the European Parliament and local council elections.
If Delia refuses to resign, the party must grow a pair and come together for what’s right. They simply must find a way to oust him and replace him with a decent candidate - someone who is above suspicion at the very least. And ideally, someone who can do all the other things Delia failed to do: unite the party, give it a proper direction and start being a real opposition to the already too-powerful and abusive government we have today.
Probably the one reason this hasn't yet happened is that there seems to be a tragic dearth of leadership candidates within the party and even the semi-decent candidates are too scared to put themselves forward or they'd rather wait until the EP election is over. Well, they simply don't have that luxury anymore. Somebody must step up to the plate or else they can probably just wind the party down right now.
It's bad enough Maltese voters have to live with a government chief of staff and top minister who are riddled with corruption allegations. We simply cannot have the Opposition run by someone accused of being a wife beater. We cannot create yet another absurd level of new normal in this country.
And to those saying such accusations are simply par for the course in a marital breakdown, that’s rubbish. Plenty of Maltese politicians have had their marriages break down. None have been accused of such behaviour. The closest case we’ve had to this was the one involving assistant police commissioner Mario Tonna last year. And he stepped down. Why should the Opposition leader be treated differently? Because he’s elected? Is that what we’ve decided we want in Malta: total impunity as long as you’re elected?
Seriously, this is basic stuff. Stop delaying the inevitable.