Newly-elected Nationalist Party leader Bernard Grech has been formally sworn in as MP on Tuesday, a day after Ivan J. Bartolo resigned his seat to make way for him.
Bartolo had pledged to resign should Grech win the PN leadership election – which he did easily last Saturday – to allow him to become an MP and serve as Leader of the Opposition. Since he had been elected in a casual election, no new casual election is required to fill his seat: in such cases the party is left free to co-opt a replacement of its choice.
Delia is set to stay on in Parliament, though he was noncommittal when asked whether he would seek to contest the next general election.
In line with procedure, Prime Minister Robert Abela presented a motion for the co-option of Grech to fill the vacancy, which was seconded by Delia. The motion was approved without a debate or a vote, and Grech was immediately sworn in as MP.
In brief remarks, Grech thanked Delia, Bartolo and his family, including his wife Anne-Marie who could not be present as she is in quarantine.
On his part, Delia said that since Saturday’s leadership election, he had the opportunity to reflect on the role of Opposition Leader as one separate from the role of party leader, and expressed his hope that the Leader of the Opposition would represent the entire country, not just his party. He expressed similar hopes for the Prime Minister.
Grech is set to become Leader of the Opposition on Wednesday at the Office of the President.
The role is defined in the Constitution, and is generally occupied by the leader of the opposition party with the largest number of MPs. Though the Constitution provides for the removal of an opposition leader who has ceased to command the support of the majority of opposition MPs, President George Vella had controversially retained Adrian Delia in the role, arguing that he was constrained to reappoint Delia to the same post for as long as he remained PN leader.
The Leader of the Opposition is also provided with a public salary equivalent to Scale 1 on the government schedule of grades – presently set at €46,238 – and allowances.