Lawyer Bernard Grech and PN leader Adrian Delia will face off in the upcoming party leadership election as no other eligible applications were received by the 3pm deadline on Monday.
In a statement, the Nationalist Party’s election commission said the names of the two candidates will now be passed on to another commission responsible for carrying out the due diligence process.
The due diligence commission is composed of Antonio Ghirlando, chairperson, notary Clyde La Rosa and accountant and auditor Mario P. Galea.
The process can take a maximum of six weeks, although it is possible that is is concluded earlier.
Antonio Ghirlando is a seasoned compliance specialist with a specific focus on
financial crime compliance, including the prevention of money laundering, countering the funding of terrorism, combatting proliferation finance, sanctions, anti-bribery, corruption, and fraud. He is also well versed in data protection and whistleblowing legislation, as well as other regulatory compliance obligations, the PN said.
Rebel MPs have thrown their weight behind Grech as their best hope to defeat Delia when the vote is held among party members.
The decision saw MEP Roberta Metsola and PN MP Therese Comodini Cachia, who were seen as likely candidates, bow out of the race before it even began.
Delia, who only took over at the party's helm in September 2017, has faced a succession of no-confidence votes in the parliamentary group, PN executive committee and general council.
Last month, 56% of the members of the PN general council opted for a leadership contest, defeating Delia’s preferred option of a confirmatory vote in his leadership by PN members.
Polls have shown Grech, a relative party outsider, enjoying a surge in support among PN members.
Conducted by opinion pollsters MISCO among 400 randomly selected PN members, the survey outlines a clear preference for Grech over the incumbent.
Respondents were asked: "If you had to make a choice between Adrian Delia and Bernard Grech to be the next leader of the Nationalist Party, who would you choose?".
63% said they would choose Grech, while 17% stated that they would choose Delia. One in five - 20% - declined to answer.
The poll found that three out of every four respondents believed that the PN would lose the next general election with the incumbent, Delia, at the helm.
A significantly lower 44% felt that this would be the case were Grech to replace him.
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