Therese Comodini Cachia to contest PN leadership race

Therese Comodini Cachia has declared she will definitely be contesting the upcoming National Party leadership race, BusinessToday has learned

Therese Comodini Cachia
Therese Comodini Cachia

Therese Comodini Cachia has declared she will definitely be contesting the upcoming National Party leadership race, BusinessToday has learned.

She is the only prospective candidate thus far to have committed herself to taking on Adrian Delia in the election.

Comodini Cachia was chosen by her colleagues to replace Delia as Opposition leader in a bid that was thwarted by the President and has represented the rebel MPs over the past couple of weeks.

She has publicly said that she wants to remain a “catalyst” of change within the PN, stopping short of declaring a leadership bid. But sources within the party said she was miffed after her apparent side-lining by the same MPs who pushed her forward.

Those MPs appear intent on putting forward one candidate to run against Adrian Delia in the leadership race, but have yet to receive a solid commitment from any of the candidates considered.

“The rebel MPs want someone who can win the race against Delia, unite the party and give the PN a fighting chance in the next election, which is why they are trying to rally around one candidate,” the sources said.

Negotiations have been ongoing with the possible contenders, that include Bernard Grech, Roberta Metsola and Mark Anthony Sammut.

The parliamentary group is arguing that the emphasis should be on the vision for the leadership.

But insiders have told BusinessToday that the debate between the contenders has been difficult and no one is willing to budge or commit other than Comodini Cachia.

Delia will be contesting the leadership election that will be decided by party members. His detractors want to avoid a bruising multi-horse race that will have to be whittled down to two by the party councillors first.

Delia enjoys the support of 44% of councillors, which can assure him a place in the run-off.

“The rebel MPs know that having too many candidates will split the anti-Delia vote and this could weaken the strongest prospects, which is why they are trying to push one candidate and convince the rest to step aside,” the sources said.

PN MEP Roberta Metsola and lawyer Bernard Grech appear to be the front runners in this exercise with MPs believing both can tick the respective boxes.

Neither of the two prospective candidates have committed themselves as more talks are expected over the coming days.

But the exercise may prove harder than expected because it means that candidates who have shown an interest in contesting have to be convinced to put their ambitions on hold.

“One other consideration the prospective candidates are making is the possibility of a general election within the next six months that will not give the new leader a chance to start healing internal divisions,” the sources said.

The PN’s electoral commission on Tuesday issued a call for expressions of interest in the leadership post. The call, which is open to all PN members, closes on Monday.

The call forms part of the screening process that has to take place before candidates are given the go ahead to formally submit their leadership nomination. Anybody who fails the due diligence exercise will not be allowed to run.

The screening process can also prove tricky as some of the rebel MPs believe Delia should fail the due diligence exercise. The incumbent is the subject of a magisterial inquiry on allegations that he received funds from murder suspect Yorgen Fenech to frustrate David Casa’s European election bid.

Delia has denied the allegations, insisting he was never offered money, let alone received it.

However, others within the party fear that any attempt to prevent Delia from contesting the leadership race would anger his supporters and create further division within the party.

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