Tista' taqra bil- Malti.
8.26pm The group of people outside the party HQ continues to grow.
8.24pm Prospective candidates for the party leadership – Delia included – will now have to formally declare their interest in the post. Each candidate will be subject to a due diligence process.
8.22pm Which means that 55.6% voted in favour of a leadership election, 43.7% in favour of a confirmation vote, while 0.7% invalidated their vote.
8.21pm Just 11 votes were invalid, Fenech confirms.
8.20pm But 839 believed that a leadership election is the best way forward.
8.18pm 659 members of the general council followed Delia’s appeal for a confirmation vote.
8.16pm Fenech starts counting the votes, beginning with the ones which voted for a confirmation vote.
8.11pm Newsbook.com.mt is informed that around 56% of the party’s general council has opted for a leadership election. In contrast, Delia received the approval of 67% of the general council in a confidence vote held just last year.
8.10pm Though today’s proceedings do not necessarily spell the end of Delia’s term at the helm of the party – he may still contest the party leadership – the vote is the third internal party vote that he has effectively lost in less than a month, after the confidence votes he lost among the PN parliamentary group and the party’s executive committee.
8:05pm Counting is still going on; however, first indications suggest that the PN general council has chosen to call a full leadership election, in defiance of Delia’s wishes.
7.57pm Sorting over, the counting of votes starts. Once more, the process should not be a particualrly lengthy one.
7.55pm Fenech goes through the votes that have been classified as invalid, showing each to observers. They generally fall under two categories: voters who chose neither option and voters who chose both.
7:41pm Each vote takes roughly a second to be confirmed and placed in the appropriate box, With four tables actively going through the ballots, the process should be over relatively shortly.
7.38pm The ballots recall those of the recent hunting referendum, with voters having to tick one of two large boxes. The ballots even use the same politically-neutral colours used in the referendum to frame these boxes: yellow and brown.
7.36pm The sorting of votes starts; again, emulating the traditional process used in national elections. Each vote counting table – there are 4 – holds up each individual vote for the benefit of observers before sorting them into one of the three options: confirmation of the leader, leadership election, and dubious votes
7.34pm Fenech counts the number of vote bundles before the actual sorting of votes starts.
7.33pm PN deputy leader Robert Arrigo arrives.
7.32pm Peter Fenech gives a statement to the party officials involved in the counting of votes as the bundling of votes into packs of 50 concludes.
7.25pm Slowly, the number of persons gathering outside the PN HQ grows.
7.23pm The sorting of votes is still ongoing. The practice emulates that followed in national elections, where votes are similarly bundled into groups before counting starts.
6.55pm There were five ballot boxes in total, and the votes within have been mixed together. The next step is to sort these votes into groups of 50.
6.50pm The votes have been placed face down on tables, in a bid to facilitate the vote-counting process, as it helps identify the stamp of the party’s electoral council.
6:50pm Most members of the general council opted for early voting, with 484 voting on Wednesday and another 376 on Friday. 770 could still vote on Saturday, and 649 did so.
6.49pm Once the ballot boxes are opened, the votes within are being mixed together deliberately to help ensure that voters cannot be identified.
6.41pm Party officials have now started breaking the seals on the ballot boxes.
6:39pm The sealed ballot boxes are being brought to the counting hall at the party HQ.
6.23pm As has generally happened during such crunch events for the party, a number of PN activists gather outside the HQ, eagerly awaiting developments.
Footage: Sarah Cassar Dymond
6.21pm Turnout has been confirmed to be high, at 93%, with 1,509 out of 1,630 eligible voters participating in the process. The numbers include 120 Gozitan counsellors, the party confirms.
6.17pm The chair of the party’s electoral commission, lawyer Peter Fenech, instructs the members of the commissions and those counting the votes on the procedure to be followed.
5.56pm PN leader Adrian Delia enters the party HQ.
Two paths lie ahead
The Nationalist Party’s general council has just concluded a crucial vote in which they decide the next step for a party whose leader Adrian Delia has lost the support of most of his parliamentary group and most of the party’s executive.
Voting concluded at 6pm, with the general council members having to decide what the party’s paid-up members (tesserati) will be voting on later this month. They will either be voting to confirm or reject Delia – as the PN leader hopes – or a proper party leadership election will be held, in which Delia is expected to contest.
The counting of votes is set to take place between 6pm and 8pm. Newsbook.com.mt is live at the PN HQ, and will be breaking the story as it develops.