Known in PN circles as one of Adrian Delia’s strongest allies, Hermann Schiavone publicly hailed the leader’s “greatness” as recently as last June, but then things changed dramatically.
Schiavone was one of 17 MPs who called for Delia’s resignation, kickstarting a process that ultimately saw the leader replaced by Bernard Grech, a landmark moment in Maltese political history.
“When I supported Adrian Delia three years ago, I believed he was the right man at the time, and I don’t regret my decision,” Schiavone told Lovin Malta.
“However, the negative survey results persisted despite government corruption and despite the fact that Adrian Delia was pressing all the right buttons. I realised the electorate was simply not engaging with him.”
“No matter how good his speeches became and no matter how beefed up the party’s policies were, it was a personal issue in terms of his personality.”
Although Delia pledged his loyalty to Grech last weekend, several supporters of the outgoing leader reacted to the outcome of the vote by resigning their party positions.
However, Schiavone warned that there was a good chance the PN would have lost by a greater margin at the next general election had Delia remained in charge.
“One had to put aside their friendships and decide what was best for the party. It was very hard for me, and I was very emotional at the PN executive committee because I never dreamed it would come to this. I honestly thought things would have improved; we’re in the third consecutive PL legislature so we [PN] should be getting ready to take office by now.”
And while some have warned that Delia was hindered by politicians and officials who refused to work with him, Schiavone argued that the buck stops with the leader.
“It’s no secret that not everyone was happy with Adrian Delia, and I’m not only talking about MPs. All our MPs did their bit in terms of their portfolio but the reality is that a section of staunch Nationalists never accepted Adrian Delia. I’m sorry things happened the way they did, but that’s life in politics and I think [last weekend’s decision] was the right thing to do.”
Schiavone also expressed hope that Delia can remain politically active within the PN, drawing parallels with how the UK’s Iain Duncan Smith was removed as Conservative Party leader after two years before joining the Cabinet of a future Tory government.
“I hope that after the initial disappointment, Adrian Delia will realise that he has a lot to offer. I know how eloquent and intelligent he is and hopefully he’ll be part of a winning team.”