Outgoing Democratic Party leader Marlene Farrugia yesterday said she will not return to the Labour Party to work with “people who sold their soul”, but she is not excluding giving the Nationalist Party leadership a shot in five years’ time, if the PN would be in search of a new leader.
Farrugia announced yesterday that she will not be contesting the post of PD leader which she has been holding since the party was set up two years ago. The PD will be holding its annual general meeting to elect a new leader in October.
Contacted yesterday by The Malta Independent on Sunday, Farrugia insisted that she will not be abandoning the PD, but said that she does not exclude contesting for the Nationalist Party leadership should the position be up for grabs again after the next election.
“I cannot exclude it because I do not know how the situation in the PN and PD will develop over the next few years,” she said.
Farrugia had already expressed her interest in the top PN post soon after the resignation of Simon Busuttil last June, but she did not pursue the idea. The PN is itself seeking a new leader, with an election due to take place in two phases next month.
What she did exclude is a return to the Labour Party, from which she resigned in November 2015 after differences over the demerger of the Malta Environment and Planning Authority.
“I will not go back to the Labour Party. There is no Labour in Parliament. There is only Joseph Muscat’s Panama gang. That is why I am certain that I can never join them. I can certainly exclude that,” she said.
In a post announcing her intentions on Facebook, Farrugia said that she will not be contesting the PD leadership post or any other position in the party “to concentrate on other challenges in my life”.
The PD is a tool to serve the country, she said, and whoever is willing to give a contribution to the party should come forward.
In her comments to this newspaper, Farrugia said that her leaving the leadership is not a bolt out of the blue, but something that had been planned. “I think that the PD will be able to grow more with a new leader who is not (Marlene Farrugia),” she said.
Farrugia has been the face of the PD ever since it was set up late last year. “There is a need for the face of the party to change,” she said.
Farrugia added that, in spite of her not being PD leader, she will retain her seat in Parliament and do her full duties in the House. “I am not abandoning the PD. I will remain an active member and contribute to the party in and outside Parliament,” she said. “But right now I have other challenges, some of a personal nature, and I would like to dedicate more time to them.”
The election of a new leader will mean better division of labour, she said. “There are valid people in the party who are capable of leading it. I am taking a step back.”
Asked whether she thinks the only other PD MP, Godfrey Farrugia, is most likely to be appointed leader, Farrugia said her life partner will be considering the possibility of replacing her.
If it is not Godfrey Farrugia who is appointed leader, then the PD will end up with a party leader who is not a Member of Parliament. Asked about this anomaly, Farrugia said that neither she nor Godfrey will be giving up their seat to the new PD leader. The PD has no control over the PN, she said, and a PD resignation from the House could effectively mean that Nationalist Party candidates can be elected or co-opted instead.
“If the new leader is not Godfrey, both of us will continue to serve in Parliament in representation of our constituents and be the PD’s voice in the House,” she said.
The PD contested the election on the Nationalist Party ticket, and any PD resignations could potentially lead to the PN taking seats now occupied by the PD.
Farrugia said that once the new PN and PD leaders are elected, the two political parties will be reviewing the coalition they formed – Forza Nazzjonali – before the election and discuss the way forward. “What is sure is that a strong Opposition is needed to fight a government that continues to ride roughshod as it was doing before the election,” she said.
Right now, the Nationalist Party appears fragile, she said, but there were other occasions in the past when it went through a difficult phase only to re-emerge stronger. The economic success of the Muscat government is being built on the 25 years of achievements by successive Nationalist governments, she said.
During the present legislature, the Opposition must work hard to offer itself as an alternative government, something it did not manage last time round, she said.
Original article found on The Malta Independent