Updated 5pm with additional detail

A petition signed by 200 Nationalist Party councillors calling for a vote on leader Adrian Delia's leadership was presented to the administration on Tuesday afternoon.

The signatories want the General Council to convene within a week, PN councillor and former election candidate Ivan Bartolo told reporters before presenting the petition.

"We need to wake up and protect our democracy. Nobody is bigger than the country or the party."

No MP involved

No MP signed the petition, Mr Bartolo said, stressing that parliamentarians had other avenues to make their views known.

"In the absence of change, status quo will prevail," he said, adding that the current situation was a danger to the survival of the party and the democracy.

“If we do nothing, there is a risk that there will shortly be no party - or democracy - left to save. We would have lost both and ended up with a one-party state.”

Mr Bartolo speaks outside PN headquarters. Video: Chris Sant Fournier

Mr Bartolo said the current leadership had burned its bridges with large swathes of the electorate, and was headed towards an even greater defeat at the next general election.

He insisted that the issue was not one of factions or cliques - stressing that he had been among the first to support Dr Delia - but of safeguarding the party.

Calls to resign

Dr Delia has been faced with calls to ask for a vote of confidence ever since the party's drubbing in the May European and local council elections.

In a Talking Point on Monday, Mr Bartolo revealed that he was the first to sign the petition.

In the petition, PN general council president Kristy Debono is being asked to convene the general council for the vote.

Counter-petition

The petition has taken the PN into uncharted territory, with supporters of the embattled leader arguing the party's statute has no clear provisions on how to unseat Dr Delia.

Mark Anthony Sammut, who recently resigned as president of the executive committee and accompanied Mr Bartolo in presenting the petition, refuted these arguments.

He said the statute was clear that the General Council was obliged by statute to discuss any issue once asked to do so by at least 150 councillors.

“We are not here to elect a leader; we are here for the General Council to express itself on whether it has faith in the current leadership,” he said.

Those opposed to a confidence vote, he said, were entitled to bring their own motion for discussion, but not to prevent a discussion from taking place.

Also present were Emma Portelli Bonnici, secretary-general of the party’s youth wing; Martin Musumeci, vice-president of the professionals’ forum; and Emvin Bartolo, a local councillor and district representative.