This is proving to be a decade of discontent for the Nationalist Party. It suffered a crushing electoral defeat in 2013 and a larger one in 2017. The leadership race following the resignation of Simon Busuttil was surrounded by controversy as Adrian Delia announced his candidacy. The controversy persists.
Dr Delia has been linked to a money laundering investigation the police are undertaking following a report by the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit about a prostitution racket in London some years ago. He has also faced taxation issues and, more recently, domestic violence accusations by his estranged wife. He has always denied any wrongdoing.
The Times of Malta has already declared he should have either resigned or temporarily withdrawn from politics until the allegations made against him are cleared so he would not cast a shadow on the party he leads. That opinion still holds though, admittedly, the responsibility is now no longer solely on him.
The PN’s chief political coordinator, Jean Pierre Debono, was correct when he declared that if there were members of the parliamentary group involved in the attacks against Dr Delia and the party they should “put up or shut up”.
He probably made such a public statement because, fully aware of how political parties work, no MP, or official, for that matter, are likely to come forward to bell the cat.
It is an open secret that some senior party officials and even Nationalist members of Parliament are not happy with what is being said about their leader and would want him out, fearing further harm to the party and, as a result, its chances of it getting elected to power, with all the benefits that usually bring to them.
Independent media journalists can write lists of names of PN exponents who approached them expressing their disdain at Dr Delia’s stubbornness, even declaring they lost confidence in him.
But they all qualify their statements are off the record and seasoned journalists will, no doubt, respect that, though they are likely to label these same people ‘spineless’.
The unanimous declaration of support for Dr Delia by the party’s administrative council earlier this week will probably lead to similar expressions of confidence by the executive committee and the parliamentary group. If that were to happen, Dr Delia might be tempted to summon a general council to obtain its endorsement.
The silent dissenters are likely to argue in the same way an administrative council member did when he said he reluctantly endorsed the support declaration because he argued it would be political suicide trying to start a rebellion at this point in time.
But this is not about a revolt a few months from two elections. It is, first of all, upholding the very values the PN is supposed to embrace. It is ensuring that truth continues to prevail and that what is good for the goose is also good for the gander.
As to the May elections, well, if – and that is a very big if – the PN makes any inroads, Dr Delia will certainly take credit for it, possibly even highlighting the internal hurdles he had to overcome. If the gap widens, he will probably point his finger at those who do not have the courage to stand up and be counted.
This is a Times of Malta print editorial