A self-suspended Nationalist MP had every right to vote in a leadership vote of confidence, according to the chairman of the party’s electoral commission. 

Francis Zammit Dimech said the party statute did not bar Hermann Schiavone from taking part in the vote, even if he had suspended himself from the parliamentary group. Questions were raised on the Mr Schiavone’s eligibility to vote, following his appearance on a Labour TV news report in which he said he voted in support of Dr Delia. 

Critics of the current party leadership complained that Mr Schiavone’s presence at Nationalist Party headquarters and his vote irked many, arguing that since he was facing disciplinary action and had suspended himself, he was not eligible to vote.

However, the criticism was quashed by Dr Zammit Dimech, who said the MP still had a right to vote.

“According to the PN statute, all former MPs have a right to vote,” Dr Zammit Dimech said.

When questioned, he clarified that this was not applicable to former MPs like Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando who had publicly switched allegiance to Labour.

When contacted, Mr Schiavone also confirmed that he was eligible to vote.

All former MPs have a right to vote

“I voted because I only suspended myself from the parliamentary group,” he said.

“I never suspended myself from the party and so I was entitled to vote. No one objected to me voting,” Mr Schiavone said.

Asked whether his right to vote was tied to the fact he was a PN MP, Mr Schiavone said: “All those who have served as MPs, unless suspended from the party, are automatically entitled to vote. The same applies to all former members of the administration”.

The MP, elected for the first time in 2017, suspended himself from the parliamentary group last April after Times of Malta revealed he held a meeting with the owner of 17 Black and Tumas Group CEO Yorgen Fenech over a possible sponsorship.

According to a leaked e-mail in the Panama Papers, secret company 17 Black had been indicated by Nexia BT as one of the companies that planned to transfer funds to secret Panama companies set up by Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi and the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, Keith Schembri. 

An internal PN disciplinary board was set up to probe the case and has still not given a final decision on the matter.

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