BY-ELECTION, HOW SOON?
November 07, 2019
The result of the general elections was not great for the GSD and much less for its leader Keith Azopardi.
Rather than solidify his position as leader it has given rise to a tremendous question mark on the advisability of continuing to have him as leader.
Marlene Hassan Nahon, leader of a recently formed party, polled more votes as an individual than the GSD slate, again individually and many more than Azopardi himself. While the GSD has over thirty years of existence, sixteen of which in Government, TG only has a few months behind them.
This is enough for Azopardi to consider his position, but he has already said he will not. Personal ambition before party. The reason for this decision is that, if resigns from the GSD or as its leader, it may be the end of politics for a person that has tremendous personal political ambitions. He seems a man that if he is to sink politically, he would rather take the GSD ship down with him. Yet the GSD rules state that a leader who loses an election must put the leadership on the line before the end of a year after the defeat, and defend it if he wants to continue as leader, against any challenger. That is to say he must declare “open season” on the GSD leadership to members of the party. There are three people who have expressed an ambition, at some point, to lead the party: Clinton, Feetham and Bossino.
Clinton has already had a head-on collision with Azopardi, once, and lost. A GSD heavy gun entered the affray on Azopardi’s side which determined the outcome. Feetham may have lost his opportunity forever when the pressure of leadership had him resign, but the strength of his sempiternal ambition may blind him to this.
The clear favourite to challenge and win, if he can pluck up enough courage to challenge, is Damon Bossino. If he really hankers after the GSD leadership leading to eventually becoming Chief Minister, he has to challenge at the earliest opportunity which is when Azopardi declares the challenge open, or continue to be a GSD foot soldier, for the next five years at least. If Azopardi is unchallenged, or he wins the challenge, he will continue to be GSD leader for the rest of this legislature and up to one year after that, when he can again be challenged. Challengers need to think of their right to challenge and what is best for the party.
Another electoral loss for the GSD led by Azopardi would be unacceptable to the membership.
Any challenger must ensure the election is democratic and fair and they would need to do away with the weighting given by the executive committee.
The undemocratic Social Democrats stated in a press release: “The Leader of the Party will now be voted by the membership and the Executive of the GSD after every General Election, as part of a weighted 60% (members) and 40% (Executive) system.”
Challengers should demand the removal of the weighting system.
How soon can Azopardi be expected to open up the challenge to his leadership? Put yourself in his position. The first thing you would want is to demonstrate your leadership abilities in Parliament and therein show your mettle. In other words, positive publicity. You would have Marlene breathing down your neck ridiculing you on your loss of support so you would have to try to ridicule her back by attempting to show that she is an empty vessel. You would open up the challenge when you think you can win. If you leave the challenge until the last minute it may show that you have failed in your bid.
Meanwhile Marlene will not be an innocent bystander in the GSD challenge. She will be there watching like a hawk. If either Bossino or Azopardi resign if they lose the challenge, it will trigger a by-election. If there are more challengers and more resign all the better for her. In parliament she would also have to demonstrate her mettle more by way of challenging the GSD than the Government because that is where any potential benefits to her party will be coming from.
If there is a by-election Marlene would have to decide who she puts forward. That in itself may cause friction within TG.