The Malta Independent 13 December 2017, Wednesday

Delia taking firmer grip

Stephen Calleja Wednesday, 8 November 2017, 09:29 Last update: about 2 months ago

Over the weekend, Adrian Delia made big strides towards taking a firmer grip on the Nationalist Party.

The election of Kristy Debono as president of the PN’s general council was one huge step; and the second one occurred when the majority of officials who made it to the party executive council came from Delia’s team.

The weekend results show that the councillors are steadily behind their new leader, and are not taking the advice of the so-called party establishment, which is intent in creating instability by not accepting the decision taken in September by the party members – that of putting Delia in the driver’s seat.

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Since that election, Delia has had to combat more with people who are supposedly on the same side, the Nationalist Party, than his political adversaries, the Labour Party. But so far he has overcome all battles, first by being elected in spite of a massive campaign against him by many top officials including MPs, and now by having people who support him being appointed in positions that matter.

There are more challenges ahead, as the elections for the two deputy leaders are still to take place together with that of the secretary general, among other appointments. It is only when the whole process is completed that we will know more.

But, whatever happens in the elections for deputy leaders and secretary general, it would not mean that Delia can rest easy. He would still have many internal opponents to deal with.

For one thing, it seems that Chris Said has still not digested his defeat to Delia for the leadership post. He first expected to have the red carpet rolled out for him to the deputy leadership position, an idea that was rejected.

He promised loyalty to the leader, but then used the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia to call for the postponement of the elections that were held last Saturday, a call that went unheeded. It is easy to interpret Said’s move as a means by which he wanted to delay the exercise to keep Delia away from a position of stability.

Said then went on to present a motion in parliament for the appointment of three judges to investigate claims made by Caruana Galizia. According to the PN whip, David Agius, this motion was presented without the parliamentary group knowing what it contained. While the group was deciding the way forward, Said went off at a tangent in what can be seen as a direct affront to the leadership and party.

Of course, Said is not the only Nationalist MP or official who is not on the same wavelength with Delia. There are others, including some that carry weight because of the positions they held in the past and still hold now. Chris Said is standing out mostly because he was the one who contested for the leadership and, following his defeat, has taken certain stands. But Said has a lot of company – for example Simon Busuttil, Karol Aquilina, Jason Azzopardi and David Casa, all of whom were not present for the PN general council last Sunday.

While it is not obligatory for MPs to attend, their absence for Delia’s first address at a party general council does carry a message of dissent. Maybe the previous day’s result was too much for them. Saturday’s elections were another defeat for them and the so-called establishment.

Thing is, the more time Delia’s detractors remain in denial, the more they will become isolated, as support for Delia, for now within the PN structures, continues to grow. If they cannot overcome their self-centred approach, they should make way.

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