Second PN member reveals Clyde Puli asked them to contest co-option vote

Ms Portelli and Mr Stellini. Photo: Facebook

Updated at 3.50pm

A second PN member has publicly revealed that the party’s general secretary asked her to contest a co-option vote to fill a parliamentary seat vacated by David Stellini.

Gozitan PN member Maria Portelli wrote on Facebook that she had turned down Clyde Puli’s request to take part in the ballot to replace Mr Stellini. 

Dr Cutajar. Photo: FacebookDr Cutajar. Photo: Facebook

“I believe that this seat should be filled by Kevin Cutajar, because he deserves it,” she wrote. “I will be giving him my full support”.

Ms Portelli’s decision to go public with her decision to rebuff Mr Puli adds further pressure to the PN administration, which has come in for internal criticism following the party’s poor electoral showing.

On Friday afternoon, the PN’s Żurrieq committee said it wanted the party’s administration to “shoulder responsibility” for the electoral defeats, in a call that echoed ones made by the party’s youth wing, MŻPN, and forum for professionals, FPPN. 

Co-option vote

Dr Cutajar came within two votes of replacing Mr Stellini when the PN’s executive committee first voted to fill the vacated seat last week.

That vote, which was won by Jean Pierre Debono, will now be repeated on Saturday after Mr Debono withdrew from the contest following allegations he had allowed ineligible members to cast a vote in the ballot.

Retired judge Giovanni Bonello has since argued that Mr Stellini’s seat should be filled by a Gozitan for the co-option process to respect the Constitution.

Ms Portelli, follows lawyer Joe Ellis in publicly revealing that the party leadership approached her to contest the co-option vote.

On Thursday, Dr Ellis published a letter he had sent to Mr Puli in which he told him that he felt Mr Stellini’s vacated seat should be filled by Kevin Cutajar.

Ms Portelli obtained 433 first count votes in the 2017 general election, which she contested in the 13th district on a PN ticket. Dr Cutajar obtained 901 first count votes – more than the 719 obtained by Mr Stellini himself.

PN turmoil

Controversy over the co-option process has added to the PN’s internal troubles, with Adrian Delia’s leadership coming under intense scrutiny following the party’s massive loss at MEP and local council elections. 

The party’s youth wing, MŻPN, has described the party’s current state as “untenable” while its forum of professionals FPPN, has said responsibility had to be shouldered by “all those who are refusing to view the clear electoral result as a damning one”. 

The party’s public spats continued on Thursday night, when a banner reading “We want a future: resign” was put up outside the party’s headquarters. 

A banner put up outside the party's headquarters.A banner put up outside the party’s headquarters.

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