We need a contest – Gonzi
Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi insisted with his party executive members that the upcoming deputy leadership election should be contested by the largest number of candidates possible to show the PN is alive and a catalyst for change.
Aware of speculation in political and media circles that potential candidates may not contest because MEP Simon Busuttil is being perceived as the anointed candidate, Dr Gonzi said the PN was after a real contest.
A member of the PN executive said the Prime Minister insisted with all those present that a contest is the best way forward for the party.
Dr Busuttil yesterday remained tight-lipped about his intentions, saying only he was still toying with the idea of standing for the post but had not yet made a final decision.
The same response came from the other potential candidates – ministers Mario de Marco, Tonio Fenech and Chris Said.
Asked by The Times following a press conference on green public procurement about the PN race, Mr Fenech said he had not yet decided, while Dr de Marco added he would make his intentions known in the coming days.
At one point, Dr de Marco jokingly turned to Mr Fenech and told him: “I will be your campaign manager.”
Asked whether there was any agreement for Dr Busuttil to be the sole candidate, Mr Fenech said he was not aware of any such arrangement. Parliamentary Assistant Beppe Fenech Adami is also known to be considering running.
PN sources confirmed maverick MP Franco Debono – who severed his relations with the party following his vote against former Home Affairs Minister Carm Mifsud Bonnici – has already held various encounters with PN councillors to discuss the post.
“Although Dr Debono has not made up his mind yet he is seriously considering contesting the post as a sign of reconciliation with the party. He also sees himself as giving an option to those disgruntled with the current leadership,” a PN councillor told The Times.
The PN will start accepting nominations for the post from today until November 14.. The first round of the election is scheduled to take place on November 29.
If none of the candidates obtains two-thirds of the votes cast other rounds will follow until a candidate is elected.
Election for PN Deputy Leader – 1999
First round – April 25
Votes cast: 762
Lawrence Gonzi: 367 (48%)
Louis Galea: 177 (23%)
Francis Zammit Dimech: 159 (21%)
Josef Bonnici: 59 (8%)
Second round – May 2
Votes cast: 762
Lawrence Gonzi: 706 (93%)
Election for PN Deputy Leader – 2004
First round – March 18
Votes cast: 835
Tonio Borg: 510 (61.1%)
Francis Zammit Dimech: 295 (35.3%)
Second round – March 20
Votes cast: 818
Tonio Borg: 737 (90.1%)
Additional reporting by Kurt Sansone.