The Malta Independent 27 May 2024, Monday
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Adrian Delia to take Jean Pierre Debono’s parliamentary seat

Rachel Attard Sunday, 24 September 2017, 07:00 Last update: about 8 years ago

Newly elected PN leader Adrian Delia will be taking MP Jean Pierre Debono’s parliamentary seat in the coming weeks, The Malta Independent on Sunday can reveal. Debono’s decision was taken yesterday afternoon after he asked for a meeting with Delia.

In exclusive comments given to this newsroom, Debono said that, “No one from the party, including the leader, has asked me to relinquish my parliamentary seat. This was a decision which I took on my own and I do not expect anything in return.”

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The PN’s search for someone to surrender his or her parliamentary seat started as soon as Delia was elected leader, given that Delia is not a member of the House of Representatives. Last Saturday Delia was elected as the new PN leader, with 52.7 per cent of the votes cast in his favour, beating his opponent Chris Said.

When asked why he decided to give up his seat for the new elected PN leader, Debono said that he could not simply do nothing after “the majority of the party councillors voted for Delia in the first round of elections on 2 September”, and after this vote was confirmed by the majority of party members last Saturday in the final round of the elections.

“For me, it was unacceptable that the PN’s parliamentary group did not take stock of these two results and, instead, remained silent. Unlike some of the MPs who are showing their unwillingness to relinquish their seat, I decided to deal with the problem directly and give Delia my 7th District [Zebbug, Dingli, Mgarr, Mtarfa and Rabat] seat. I am ready to make this sacrifice and give up my lifelong dream of being an MP because, for me, the party’s interests come first.”

Delia will eventually take Debono’s seat if the unelected PN candidates commit themselves not to take it up themselves if elected in the subsequent casual election that will be called once Debono officially confirms his resignation from the House.

The PN candidates most likely to be elected when Debono relinquishes his seat are Antoine Borg, Sam Abela, Peter Micallef and David Vassallo. Both Borg and Abela have publicly stated in the last few days that, if elected, they would give their seat to Delia.  

Borg has declared that in a scenario in which Partit Demokratiku candidates would contest the casual election, “there could be no other choice but for me to do the same". He added that if he is elected, he would resign as an MP to reflect the wishes of the original MP's decision – for Delia to be in Parliament as Leader of the Opposition. "It is true that the seat should come from the people, but I would not be inheriting this seat if there is no resignation with a clear intention [to elect Delia], which must be respected."

Sam Abela said that, as a PN candidate, he would do all that is required for Adrian Delia to take a seat in Parliament. He pledged his allegiance to Delia and said he is ready to do what is needed and asked of him by Delia and the party in the case of a casual election in his District.

Asked if he knows of any PN candidates in the 7th District who would object to Delia obtaining his parliamentary seat, Debono said that some had already announced on Facebook that they would give up their seat too, and others have declared privately that they are four-square behind the new leader.

There were three Partit Demokratiku candidates who contested the 7th District, one of whom was elected (Godfrey Farrugia). The other two candidates have little chance to make it since there are other PN candidates who are well ahead of them.

In order to be elected, the successful candidate in a casual election has to end up with at least half the number of votes as the person originally elected. That means that for a PD candidate to make it they would have to obtain half of Debono’s total votes. 

The two PD 7th District candidates, Lee Bugeja Bartolo and Monique Agius, had obtained 43 and 76 votes respectively in the general election. Debono, meanwhile, had been elected with 1,955. That means that either PD candidate would need to obtain 978 votes in the casual election if they decide to contest it in order to deny Delia his seat in Parliament.

Asked if a deal had been struck with Delia in view of reports that Debono had collected a party member’s voting document through a proxy issued without the member’s consent, Debono said: “There was absolutely no deal with either Delia or anyone from his team as the media has speculated. I must add that I took this decision to come forward on Saturday afternoon because, for me, the party comes before everyone and this is a time where the party needs us.  

“This is the whole truth and nothing but the truth and no one ever offered anything in any way. I took this decision because I love the party. I told the PN leader that we need to close this chapter as soon as possible and that we need to put an end to this ambiguity. I also want to add that I only made one request to the Leader… I wanted reassurance that Delia will take care of the needs of the 7th District. This reassurance was given.”

Asked if he intends contesting another position within the party, Debono replied, “What I can tell you for now is that I will not contest the post of assistant general secretary, which I occupied for almost 10 years.”

Earlier this week a number of PN MPs and candidates expressed their intentions regarding the parliamentary seat that Delia needs to be Opposition leader. The first MP that expressed his intentions was Hermann Schiavone, who posted on Facebook that he has already offered to give up his seat for Adrian Delia to be allowed in Parliament, but did highlight a potential problem.

He said, "I always believed that the 5th District constituents lent me the seat; it is not mine but belongs to the PN. I have no problem giving it back to the party so that the leader would be co-opted instead of me. In my particular case however, the route for the Leader to enter Parliament does not depend solely on me, but also on the other candidates not elected in the District who would also have to be ready to give up the seat in the case that they would be elected instead of me in a casual election."

Another MP who was being targeted to relinquish his seat was Gozitan MP Fredrick Azzopardi. Last Wednesday this newsroom contacted Azzopardi from the 13th District who was non-committal on whether or not he would give up his seat in Parliament for Delia. He did, however, indicate that he has always been loyal to whoever is the leader of the PN. He added that he had not really considered what he would do if asked, as at that time, he had not been asked to give up his seat.

Sources close to the party told this newsroom that both Norman Vella and Fredrick Azzopardi were non committal on what they intend to do p until yesterday. Recently, a number of MPs who were elected in a casual election said no to the idea. MPs Maria Deguara, Ivan Bartolo, Karol Aquilina and David Stellini said they would not relinquish their seat to make way for Delia. Godfrey Farrugia was also elected in a casual election.

Even if the process kick starts tomorrow, it is unlikely that Delia will make it to Parliament for the Budget Speech on 9 October. This is because it will take two weeks to complete the casual election process, which, in turn, needs to be followed by the co-option of Delia.

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