Watch: “I feel ridiculous defending him”; “Delia is PN’s elected leader”

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

PN’s youth wing President Dr Joseph Grech maintained that he felt ridiculous defending embattled PN leader Adrian Delia, every time allegations about him surface. On the other hand, PN’s Gozo’s Council president Samuel Azzopardi maintained that Delia was the party’s elected leader.

The two party activists were discussing whether Delia should remain or whether he should step down during Newsbook Hour aired on 103 Malta’s Heart and hosted by Fr Joe Borg.

Embattled Opposition Leader and Partit Nazzjonalista leader Adrian Delia lost a secret vote of confidence on Tuesday. Since then, a process has been triggered under Article 90(4) of the Constitution. The majority of the MPs within the Opposition parliamentary group said that they do not want Delia as Opposition Leader.

Despite losing the vote of confidence, Delia has vowed to remain on as Opposition Leader.

Dr Azzopardi maintained that Delia should stay on as a Partit Nazzjonalista Leader, while President George Vella as the guardian of the Constitution should decide on whether Delia’s fate as Opposition Leader. He argued that Delia was elected by the party’s paid up members and was reconfirmed as leader during the General Council Meeting held last year. He underlined that Delia therefore remains the only legitimate PN leader.

On the other hand, Dr Grech stated that he held a different opinion on the matter. The recent crisis was sparked after the Times of Malta revealed messages between Delia and Daphne Caruana Galizia murder suspect Yorgen Fenech when it was already known that Fenech was the owner of Dubai-based company 17 Black. Grech observed that Delia initially denied that he had communicated with Fenech over WhatsApp and then called for an investigation to establish who was behind the leak.

“A PN leader should not be entangled in such a mess. We shouldn’t be using the party’s resources and energy to defend our leader’s personal position. It’s not acceptable. I feel ridiculous having to defend my own leader from such allegations,” Dr Grech explained.

Are you concerned that Fenech and Delia had communicated?

Asked whether they were concerned about the exchange over WhatsApp between Fenech and Delia, Dr Azzopardi stressed that one should take into consideration the context in which that exchange happened. On the other hand, Dr Grech noted that it was a case of two weights, two measures.

Dr Grech explained that in similar situations within Partit Laburista, PN had demanded the resignation of the officials involved. He argued that in certain situations, certain behaviour was accepted by comparable behaviour within the PL was not.

“Delia harps on that he was elected by the party’s paid up members, with the same reasoning shouldn’t [disgraced former Prime Minister] Joseph Muscat not have resigned since Partit Laburista had garnered the largest share of votes in recent political history when he was at the helm?” Dr Grech asked.

Meanwhile Dr Azzopardi noted that the Opposition Leader was asked if there was any communication “of relevance”. He argued that when one is serving in such a role, one is faced with various invitations for meetings and lunches. Dr Azzopardi said that Delia should have got rid of Fenech, adding that had the Opposition Leader dined with Fenech his position would have been different on the matter.

Is it only paid up members that want Delia?

During the programme, the activists also discussed the frequent surveys, which often show that despite the various political crises experienced throughout the last month, Delia has failed to make any in roads.

Dr Azzopardi said that while he did not follow blindly the leader and often criticised him, he was not convinced that the latest internal crisis was sparked due to the WhatsApp messages. He asked whether Delia was being equated to Muscat, disgraced former ministers Konrad Mizzi and Chris Cardona.

“Polls alone do not suffice to remove a party leader. Until a week ago, we were discussing and approving our new statute. None of the amendments proposed included a clause on the removal of the leader. Had such a mechanism been introduced then, this could have been triggered,” Dr Azzopardi remarked.

“The leader is weakening himself”

Dr Grech maintained that contrary to popular belief, it was not the party activists who were weakening the leader but it was Delia’s own doing. He explained that despite taking taking the government to court on the the hospital privatisation deal, there was a lack of credibility on other fronts.

Azzopardi remarked that as soon as Delia was elected leader, he replaced former Opposition and PN leader Simon Busuttil in the ongoing court cases. He noted that Delia played a role in the publication of the Egrant inquiry report and in Muscat’s resignation. He argued that the party was being harmed and not the leader.

“We’re still defending Delia since he was reconfirmed a year ago. Three years of controversies and allegations on the party leader. Day after day we’re wasting our resources to defend the party leader. We have a duty to speak about our leader. The surveys are not the only reason why Delia should step down,” Grech concluded.