Nationalist Party leader Adrian Delia should put his leadership to the test and prove himself to be worthy of his post, former prime minister Lawrence Gonzi told the Times of Malta.

Dr Gonzi, who resigned as PN leader after suffering a huge electoral defeat in the 2013 general election, acknowledged that Dr Delia was the legitimate leader of the party. “However, the circumstances today demand that he recognises the present state of affairs and moves forward to face the challenge head-on,” he remarked.

Various quarters called for Dr Delia, his close aides and top officials to step down after the PN was crushed by Labour at last Saturday’s European Parliament elections. Labour won 141,267 votes (54.2 per cent) against the PN’s 98,611 (37.9 per cent).

The PN also appears to be heading towards a similar defeat in the local council elections, which were also held on Saturday.

Dr Gonzi, who served as prime minister and PN leader between 2004 and 2013, said that the party was facing challenges that had to be tackled “with urgency and courage”.

To him, last weekend’s results showed “there is a sizeable faction of PN voters who decided to vote in a manner that sends a strong message to the PN’s present leader, his advisers and the party officials”.

The way forward, in his opinion, is for Dr Delia “to go through an exercise that challenges his leadership” but also presents to the electorate an economic vision guaranteeing the future well-being of the people.

Read the full interview with Dr Gonzi here.

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