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MALTATODAY 4 October 2020

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2 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 4 OCTOBER 2020 NEWS Delivery fee of just €1 per day for orders up to 5 newspapers per address To subscribe 1. Email us your choice of newspapers, recipient's name, address, contact number to production 2. Forward cheques payable to Miller Distributors Ltd on address: Miller House, Airport Way, Tarxien Road, Luqa LQA1814 Queries on other news- papers and magazines, production@ maltatoday Same-day delivery of your favourite Sunday newspaper Monday-Friday MaltaToday Midweek • €1 BusinessToday • €1.50 Sunday MaltaToday • €1.95 ILLUM • €1.25 Support your favourite newspaper with a subscription MATTHEW VELLA IT was not the leadership cam- paign anyone expected. Adrian Delia was fighting to keep his un- happy reign in place, and started off at a great disadvantage, with multiple coups finally presenting a new outsider, Bernard Grech, as a new pretender. Before that, his MPs pushed through successive votes of con- fidence to nudge Delia out, but the PN leader insisted he was in power through the supreme vote of the PN's paid up suffrage. Delia endured his party's long knives for three years on end. When finally he a backbench rebellion had the audacity to demand the President of the Re- public to appoint a new Oppo- sition leader, Delia was pushed into calling for a new vote of confidence from the PN's Gen- eral Council; they instead chose a leadership election. But instead of a diverse line-up that could have included the Op- position-leader-apparent Ther- ese Comodini Cachia or even the high-flying MEP Roberta Metso- la, the rebel MPs chose the tele- genic Bernard Grech, a one-time anti-divorce campaigner who had curried favour with the Net TV and Xarabank audiences. Grech came with little or no baggage at first, before an em- barrassing reveal on a tax probe by the Tax Compliance Unit in 2018 and two other call-ups from the Commissioner of Tax to pay unpaid dues from the 1990s ruined his squeaky-clean image: Grech was a habitual non-taxpaying citizen who only cleaned up his act on the eve of his decision to run for PN leader. Still, Grech appeared to give PN members a taste of renewed normality they craved, and which had proved so elusive for Adrian Delia. He was the socially conservative 'Mondeo man' with a stable family life, armed with bland catchphrases and a media- tive outlook that promised unity for the divided PN. Delia – after three years a Py- thonesque black knight intent on fighting with no limbs – dug his heels in: instead of reaching out, the litigation lawyer who had once heralded a 'new way' and marshalled the strength of the PN's working class, kept ap- pealing to his loyal constituents. He promised vague retribution for dissidents who made his po- litical life impossible, and even in his last interview with the right-wing-conspiracy-conserv- ative pundit Simon Mercieca, spent over 20 minutes replying about the accusations made on his corporate services to Maltese brothel owners in Soho, his own tax issues, and other accusations. Delia's badly-scripted cam- paign, handled in part by loyal deputy leader Robert Arrigo, was yet another confirmation of the loneliness of the Opposition leader. The endorsements from MPs were nowhere to be seen; even his deputy leader David Agius and one-time allies like Clyde Puli or Hermann Schia- vone had disappeared. Remarkably, a gushing en- dorsement from his own father, produced an aphorism for the way the PN's paid-up members felt mistreated by the so-called party elite: "Back in the day all they would do is blow the whis- tle, and we would be there, ei- ther with our flag in hand or with the money... this is a chance for you to take back the party that's yours." It was also clear that Delia had been left the worse for wear af- ter three years of disappoint- ing polls, but mostly from the accusation that he had enter- tained WhatsApp requests from Yorgen Fenech after the Tu- mas magnate was revealed as the owner of the mysterious 17 Black company (of Panamagate fame) after the PN had so vo- ciferously campaigned on this black hole of corruption. That event intensified the backbench rebellion. Brutalised by the MPs who in 2017 had refused to welcome him into their home, Delia found it impossible to heal the festering wound in his party. He lacked party unity, expert advice, and spin doctors to help the Oppo- sition grow. Crucially for any PN leader, he had earned the black spot from Daphne Caruana Gali- zia, who in 2017 first reported on his Soho corporate services link. When she was assassinated soon after, the PN voters who swore loyalty to her memory refused to be part of Delia's PN. Grech on the other hand had the old guard behind him, the crucial part in his guarantee for Brutalised Delia is finally spat out Grech is PN leader with 69% MAT THEW VELLA & MAT THEW AGIUS BERNARD Grech yesterday became the PN's ninth leader in a landslide victory that saw him getting over 69% of the vote of some 18,000 PN mem- bers. The family lawyer's landslide confirmed the thirst for change inside the PN after a lacklustre three years with Adrian Delia at its helm. Grech obtained 12,663 votes, 69.3% of the vote. Adrian Delia got 5,622 votes. There were 77 invalid votes. Grech greeted the PN's Gen- eral Convention, saying this was an important victory of the PN and not a loss for Adri- an Delia. "My job is now to gain the trust of those 5,000 and over voters who chose someone else today." Grech thanked his cam- paign's volunteers, whom he said had "lifted him up" and pushed him towards his victo- ry. "This result fills me with great responsibility... I am ready to serve the entire Maltese and Gozitan population. "I thank Adrian Delia for his message today, and for having found the courage and deter- mination to offer me his ut- most loyalty, so that he as MP can work for the good of the country. Tomorrow we shall sit at the same table to dis- cuss how to make this party a stronger one." Grech said his wish was for nobody to be ignored by the PN. "Many people want us to be their defenders, and for us to help them be proud of their country. So I say unto them, to come to us: this is the wish of so many who want to free this country of its criminal rule. This is indeed the beginning." Grech thanked the PN's elec- toral commission for managing to organise the election even under the difficult conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic. Outgoing leader Adrian Delia conceded before any official results were published. He told the press that he was happy that the PN had shown itself capable of living up to its dem- ocratic commitment to have paid-up members elect their leader. He said the challenge for the PN now was to stop its inter- nal bickering. "The country needs a strong opposition, and a strong, united Nationalist Party." Delia said he would be loyal to Bernard Grech and to give him the support he did not find himself in the last three years. "I want my leader to not suffer from what I passed through in the last three years." But he would not speculate on whether he should cede his parliamentary seat to give Adrian Delia gave a press conference yesterday at the PN headquarters. Photo: James Bianchi

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