The Malta Independent 19 November 2018, Monday

TMID Editorial: Politics - Public and private affairs

Thursday, 8 November 2018, 10:18 Last update: about 10 days ago

One can argue until the cows come home whether or not the private lives of politicians should be open to public scrutiny.

Some say that a politician renounces to private life once he takes up an official position. Others say there is always a limit to what should be exposed, and unless personal behaviour impinges on a politician’s public life or the role he or she occupies, what is private should remain such.

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In the past days Malta has been gripped by the news that the Opposition Leader’s wife has filed for separation. Whether the revelation was made “in the public interest”, or whether there was some not-so-hidden agenda to put more pressure on Delia’s leadership is a matter that remains unclear. Malicious intent cannot be dismissed seeing that there have been too many occasions in the past in which certain elements within the PN, in association with others who have a background in the party, have tried to weaken their own leader to further destabilise his position.

The suspicion that the news of Delia’s conjugal problems was meant not just to inform the public but to hurt Delia as a person and as a leader gathers strength when what followed is a debate on whether he should continue to lead the Nationalist Party in the prevailing circumstances. Some have defended him, saying that his personal issues are not a valid reason for his resignation, but there seems to be a stronger wave of argument that he is not in a position to lead the PN because of the private problems he is facing.

The idea that Delia should resign simply because he has marital problems, as the anti-Delia faction is insisting, privately and publicly, is incomprehensible.

It is not the first time that party leaders in Malta have been through a similar situation. None of them resigned from the post they were occupying for this reason. All of them kept doing their work on the government or opposition benches irrespective of their familial tribulations. Their situation was public knowledge, but there were no direct or indirect hints that they should leave. And this happened in times when Maltese society was less liberal than it is today. So why should Delia resign because of marital issues?

Secondly, just take a look at the composition of the House of Representatives, and it is very evident that many of the MPs sitting on either side of the Speaker have had, or still have, their own conjugal problems. Many of them have separated from their first husband or wife and have formed a new family with another person. Nobody told them to resign their seat, even when they went through the separation or divorce procedures while sitting as an MP. Nobody told them to quit, even when they tried to hide their problems until an election was over. So why should Delia be singled out?

Many arguments have been made on whether or not Adrian Delia is the right leader for the Nationalist Party at this point in time, and these arguments are justified when – and only when – they are based on his work in politics. If Delia wants to leave because of marital problems, then the decision should be his, and his alone. Nobody should force it down his throat.

What is unmistakable is that his detractors never wanted to give him a chance, and in his 14 months of leadership they have tried to find different ways to get him out of Pieta. His marital problem is just the latest addition to the string of situations aimed to put Delia with his back to the wall.

Delia may not be finding the support he needs to continue leading the party, and the coming election in May can determine his fate. But God forbid that he is forced to abandon ship just because his wife left him. If this is so, then many politicians would have to abandon their career.

Not only politicians, for that matter.

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