Legal expert Dr Austin Bencini said that in his decision, the President has not managed express with conviction the clear and sharp distinction between the role of the President as a guarantor of the institutions and the role of the President as one who should not interfere in partisan politics. Speaking on 103’s Newsbook Hour, Bencini said that “With his decision, the President has created a bigger crisis than the one he was tasked to resolve”. He added that the president, having ascertained that two-thirds of the MPs elected on the Nationalist Party ticket, had no confidence in Dr Adrian Delia as the one who holds the institutional position of Leader of The Opposition, had a clear constitutional path to take.
Dr Bencini said that the position of Leader of the Opposition is important on an institutional level as there are a number of other institutional roles where the President needs to consult with the Leader of the Opposition.
With whom shall he consult?
The current scenario means that if two thirds of the members of the Opposition declare that this person does not represent them, the President is therefore consulting with a person who has no trust, and therefore is not representative of the persons who do not trust him, as there could be different circumstances, Dr Bencini added.
Dr Bencini said that the President should declare what the contrasting advise was, and who was the person to offer such counsel which has now led to this impasse. “It is particularly important to know where the disagreement is stemming from, state where the contrasts were
This decision set a precedent, and as such there are a lot of questions which need to be answered in order for us to understand the decision which has been taken and which has created a precedent – these questions deserve an answer, added Dr Bencini.
He also highlighted the fact that in Opposition there is no such thing as a ‘coalition’, in contrast to the possibility of having such thing in government. “The Opposition does not need to be a coalition, as is required of the Government”, concluded Dr Bencini.
Correct interpretation of constitution – Bonett
Dr Chris Bonett on the other hand, defended the decision taken by the President arguing that President’s Vella decision was based on the interpretation of the Constitution’s Article 90, which does not only establish how to remove but also who to appoint as Leader of the Opposition.
Dr. Bonett said that the constitution is clear that the person who should lead the opposition is the one who is the appointed leader of the largest political party in opposition. “The situation was such that the President would have removed the Leader of the Opposition as stipulated by the Constitution, but then appoint the same Dr Delia, as Leader of the Opposition, reflecting the Maltese constitution which whist it gives discretion to the President on the removal of the Leader of the Opposition, it does not give such discretion to the President on the appointment of the Opposition Leader.”