After a heated campaign that has exposed deep divisions in the country’s centre-right opposition party, Malta’s Nationalist Party (PN) will elect its new leader today. The current leader, Simon Busittil, signalled his intention to step down after losing the general election to the Labour Party in June.
The PN’s leadership is contested between established party member Chris Said and lawyer Adrian Delia. Mr Delia has run a populist campaign, claiming he’s “proud to not be a politician”.
But such rhetoric risks fragmenting the PN. Prominent party members have threatened to quit if Mr Delia clinches victory. Many perceive Mr Delia’s policies to be contrary to the PN’s conservative tradition, leading some to say his views represent a danger to the party’s “historical identity”.
Despite this, Delia led the first vote with a resounding 616 of 1365 votes, and is widely expected to be Malta’s next opposition leader.
With Malta’s Labour government currently presiding over the third lowest unemployment rate in Europe and a rare budget surplus, it is sure to be a long way to the top for the PN, regardless of today’s result.
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Alex is a senior analyst in the Current Developments team with a primary focus on the Americas. He also serves as an editor on The Daily Brief.