The extarordinary general council of the Nationalist Party started this morning with two speeches delivered from the two opposing camps, the faction supporting the leadership and Adrian Delia and the faction calling for his removal.
Each speaker had 15 minutes allotted.
PN Councillor Justin Schembri, from the pro-Delia camp, was the first to speak during the general council.
He said: “We believe in democracy, which birthed the PN in which many of you served since the 60s. Today i’m choosing to appear before you to defend the legacy of democracy.”
He said he could not defend the principle of democracy and the rule of law and not feel obliged to honour the thousands of people who two years ago chose Adrian Delia as a leader of the party. This statement saw the councillors present erupt into applause.
He said that the party has an obligation to be an effective party. “I understand that today, we are split in two factions. This is no secret that there are 2 factions. But they also have a choice and we have an obligation to respect those who do not have the same opinion. “
He mentioned that a situation has been created which is undemocratic, and sees personalities attacked. He said that having people who intend to attack the flag, and attack those who represent the country in the highest institution is unacceptable. He said that it is unacceptable that the party is being shackled by a few who are not respecting the vote by the tesserati.
He said both sides are arguing on the same democratic principles and everyone is proud to be democratic. “We are here to strengthen democracy. Since we all believe and agree on democracy principles, then there is no reason why we should not respect an elected leader. Why is this party divided in two then? Why did we allow PN to go to May’s election divided? “
“Those who truly believe in the party of Fenech Adami, Lawrence Gonzi and Simon Busuttil should choose unity and vote yes, as the party is not us the councillors, but the thousands of tesserati who already made a democratic choice,” he said to vibrant applause.
He said that “we can never save the democracy in the country if we don’t respect democracy in here. Those who want to safeguard democracy must see a PN with one leader, a leader who is humble enough to call us here today to take this vote. This is why today we have the opportunity to speak with our vote, and respect the result of this vote.”
He spoke about the party having to think ahead to the future, and the reforms needed, mentioning the appointment of Louis Galea to AZAD. He stressed the need for the country to have an alternative government.
Referring to the May elections, he said that the loss cannot be solely carried by Adrian Delia, and asked everyone to question whether more could have been done to convince more people to vote for PN. He mentioned that both Delia and Simon Busuttil before him had taken lead of a party that needed to be renewed before it begins to again appeal to more people, and mentioned the need to change the mentality of the party.
“We need to stop debating and fighting ourselves, as the party today is giving all its energy to argue on democracy which we all agree on, but we are not investing enough energy to save Malta.” He said that it is pointless speaking in favour of democracy, but putting each other down.
He hopes that today “we win together as one party.”
“Let us get rid of this politics of conflict and hatred.”
He said that he is convinced that in the PN he sees the will to fight against social injustice, and fight in court for what belongs to the people, the will for justice, to defend life, and consolidate solidarity. “I am convinced that you understand no leader can lead alone.”
Ivan Bartolo, who was one of the councillors who had presented the petition calling for the vote of confidence spoke, receiving both applause and boos when taking the podium. Adrian Delia stood up to silence those who booed.
Bartolo said that in the PN they always had a leadership that was ready to listen to honest criticism. “The PN always had leaders surrounding themselves with people who can never be yes men. I am one of those, who in 2014 voted happily for Delia. That doesn’t mean that I signed a contract that I would always say yes. If I don’t agree, I will not say so to break the party, but to open the discussion.”
“The leader of the PN cannot be surrounded by people who jump when he asks them to jump, just asking how high?”
“My colleague mentioned factions. I assure you this is not the case. The country comes first for me, and the party second… We need to focus on the wider picture to ensure that the only winner out of this process is the PN and more so the country.”
“You might not agree with me, but don’t condemn me and call me a traitor as the strength of the party comes from the fact that we are different, with different opinions. This is why we do not have kings or saviours.”
“The picture I see is that the point of departure is the status quo, where the PN became a victim of a culture where everyone points fingers. This culture wasted time and resulted in the largest recent electoral defeat,” he said.
He said that one cannot remain silent in the party’s Executive Committee, and said that he is there to ensure the interest of the party and the country. He spoke of analysing the results of the trust survey and the May results, and said that if the PN cannot convince more people to vote PN, then the PL have a chance to make the PN irrelevant and could win a 2/3rds majority in Parliament.
He said that in light of this he could not remain silent, adding that because he opened his mouth, he was called a traitor, as some people booed.
He said he would have been a traitor if he kept his mouth closed.
He said that the duty of the councillors today is to consider all the available numbers, including the May elections, the election results over the past 20 years, and the trust survey results. He said in the interest of the PN they need to consider the best road to the election.
He said that in one of the articles he had written, he said that “no matter what happens, we have the duty – regardless who the leader is – we either back him up or we back off.”
“With the decision we take today, we need to keep the country’s democracy in our minds.”
He said that people leave as there is nothing keeping them to vote for the PN. That is our attitude as well, yes we respect the tesserati but let us remember that the Leader can become Prime Minister through the electorate, not the tesserati.” He thanked Adrian Delia and the Secretary General for changing the date of the council from tomorrow to today as he would not be in Malta tomorrow but would be with his family abroad.
He thanked those present, and told the councillors to remember that “we are all brothers, and are all nationalists. Let us focus on what unites us and not what divides us,” he said, adding that what unites us is the PN and democracy. He received applause but was also jeered by others.
Original article found on The Malta Independent