A case study in political science : the delia paradox

A case study in political science : the delia paradox

Could it be that recent facts are immortalised in political science as the phenomenon of the delia paradox and applied as a yardstick in political science textbooks?

If, as Mario Monti said a politician looks at the next election whilst a statesman looks at the next generations, the political scientist takes a bird’s eye view and analyses objectively.

And i think recent political events have provided political scientists worldwide with formidable material for a case study about the relationship between a political party and a democratic constitution.

Is the party greater than the people in a democracy? Or when that happens, that is, when a political party becomes greater than all, including the constituion,  democracy has broken down?  Can this be a lithmus test for democracy?

In Malta Manuel Delia was one of the main brains behind the public transport fiasco which erupted a public outrage for months and which is still ongoing. Together with his boss, Minister Austin Gatt he was responsible for a failed reform which cost the Maltese people millions of euros in its implimentation as well as material and moral damages, if ever it is going to be quantified.

None of them has to date resigned.

A government member of parliament, being a representative of the people, abstained in parliament in a no confidence vote in Minister Gatt as the minister responsible for the gross mismanagement in implementing the reform. The doctrine of individual ministerial responsibility is part of the Maltese constitution. In normal countries especially those of the EU ministers resign without waiting for the Opposition to present motions further embarrasing their government.

The no confidence motion failed only due to the Speaker’s casting vote. The minister still did not resign and in a subsequent cabinet reshuffle, he was not removed from cabinet.

Back to the party Minister Gatt, in vindictive mode, objected to the dissenting member’s candidature for the next election, because, inter alia he had abstained in his no confidence motion, whilst at the same time pushing Manuel Delia as a candidate in the same district of the dissenting member.

Not only did Minister Gatt and his staff including Delia  not resign for their dimal performance and blatant mismanagement, but back in the party Minister Gatt is blocking the candidature of the person who objected to his mismanagement, precisely, amongst others,  becauseof that objection!

I hope this episode furnishes political scientists worldwide with formidable material for a case study into the relationship between political parties, the constitution and the people in a democracy.

Possibly a formula is devised in political science, which could be given the label ‘ a delia paradox’ whereby such behaviour indicates totaliatarianism where the party is greater than all.


  • kevin farrugia
    Posted at 20:35h, 05 December

    tikkritika biss lil shabek, sakemm kienu wiehed jew tnejn tifihma, imma issa kontra kulhadd!!umbghad hadt ghalik ghax qalulek sour grapes!!ma sirt taqbel ma xejn ma dal gvern…..li suppost tifforma parti minnu!!hadt ghalik ukoll ghax qalulek li you re blackmailing the priminister, jewwilla mhux hekk qed taghmel? tlift kollox dott, naf cert li kieku tregga l arlogg lura l glieda tieghek kont taghmilha differenti, issa TOO LATE, m intix tajjeb biex tkun parti minn team, m intix tajjeb biex titla targa targa, imdorri tghaggel kif dejjem ammettejt int stess…u issa ghax l affarijiet ma gewx kif xtaqt int urejtna l karattru veru tieghek…LA HA NEGHREQ JIEN JEGHREQ KULHADD!!!

    • Perepettu
      Posted at 06:24h, 06 December

      Prosit Dr Debono. Urejt kemm int politiku ta’ veru u dizasocja ruhek mil hazin.. Taqtax qalbek postok fil-politika terga ssibu ghax int bniedem validu hafna u dawn ir-riformi li qed tissugerrixxi m’ghandiex dubju li xi darba jigu diskussi mieghek biex jigu mplimentati. Haga wahda ma naqbel mieghek xejn u hi li qrajt li trid twaqqaf dan il-blog. Filwaqt li nifhem li bhala avukat inti mhabbat hafna pprova sib hin biex almenu thalli dan s-sit miftuh. Awguri ghal Milied hieni Dott.

  • Mario allison
    Posted at 15:41h, 03 August

    Mr L.Gatt ,it is not about who you are talking too ,everybody has brains and this is not the 1900 when if you had a law degree you are the king of the village,so let me a simple citizen without any degrees tell you what i think.Politics is not about confrontation it is about serving in the interest of the people,it is having the guts to realise that when everybody is telling you that you are wrong you would be humble enough to admit it.Politics is about taking advice and not be totalitarian.Politics is about involving ppl who mean well and not ‘ yes men’ I dare you to name me just one LABOUR chairman or ceo or human resources manager or financial controller,shal i go on?? i Am positive that you did not refer to austin gatt when you said that politics is about taking critisim with class and dignity.Your phrase of being a good politician is not about insulting anybody who disagrees with you ,is a noble phrase ,but try telling it to the tight people in parlament.tell it to the arrogant whip,pullicino.the mosta saint,the king of arrogance himself,sorry if i left anybody out…oh!!! And by the way i sure hope that the PN won’ t be daft enough to put hermann schavone on their list ,they will be putting up with another JPO . He’ s better off opening another rrstaurant in merry old england

  • tal Gabbana
    Posted at 12:44h, 03 August

    Dal Blogg hsibtu fuq dak ix xlukkajr tant leali li hu jew il familja tieghu akwistaw gabbana tiswa l mijjiet ta eluf fuq art tal gvern u li trendi pagatella sabiha kuljum.

    Missu ma jkunx leali lejn il PN!

    Mbaghad tisimghu jitkellem tahseb li ta gidu ghal partit! Jew! Xi San Domenico Savio!

    U fuq kollox,dil lealta kolla! Dan missieru ma kienx bicca wahda ma Mintof, jorqod u jqum mieghu?

    Jien lil-Delia ntih in no 1.

  • Ikliet bxejn M'Xlokk
    Posted at 19:43h, 02 August

    U din x’hini tal hames distrett?

    Mela L Perit Toni Bezzina li gej min familja Laburista u li qatt ma deher imkien mal partit,issa qed jghidu li baghat haddiema tal gvern tal public works jahdmu fil kazin tan Nazzjonalisti taz zurrieq.

    Bil banda beda!

    U lil-Herman Schiavone ma kienux halluh johrog ghax kien baghat lil haddiema tal gvern jahdmu fid dar tieghu jew ma nafx fejn?
    Ghalhekk ma kienux halluh johrog?

    Mela la ma kienux hallew lil Schiavone issa kif ha jhallu l Bezzina?

    Lil Delia ntih in number 1

  • Mario allison
    Posted at 12:46h, 02 August

    Austin gatt has declared that he will not contest the coming elections,the prime minister has declared that austin gatt will step down to help the P.N win the next elections. This is giving austin gatt the last chance to vent his hate and arrogance towards people who go against even the little things he doesnt like,after all he has nothing else to loose now. Watch him on the news ,how he talks to journalists , see how he responds to members to his own party just because they show a diffrent opinion to his, see how he hijacked the last executive meeting with his band of merry men at the beautiful new glass doors of the stamperija. One advice to my prime minister from a normal citizen (me) . MR.PRIME MINISTER PLS GET RID OF DR.AUSTIN GATT ,HE IS A VERY DANGEROUS MAN TO BE STILL A MINISTER AT THIS TIME LET HIM GO AND JOIN ELCOM TO WIN YOU THE NEXT ELECTION BUT FOR GOD’S SAKE NOT AS A MINISTER,YOU MIGHT WAKE UP TO REGRET IT

  • Olivia Bartolo
    Posted at 11:26h, 02 August

    Dr. Debono, one phrase: SOUR GRAPES

    • Franco Debono
      Posted at 14:29h, 02 August

      @olivia bartolo:
      sour grapes for what? for gatt’s being given the greatest trophy for the 1996 PN electoral defeat?
      sour grapes for what? for gatt’s mere 1374 votes in 1998 general election where he was only elected in a byelection and was appointed justice minister only to have the chief justice convicted of bribery? did he resign then?
      sour grapes for what? for the huge unpopularity hed enjoys even with large sections of the hardcore?
      sour grapes for austin gatt’s BWSC and Arriva fiascos?
      sour grapes for the cruel water and electricity bills gatt imposed on the maltese people?
      sour grapes for gatt’s hanging on to his ministry even thought he no confidence vote did not go through only thanks to speaker’s casting vote?
      sour grapes for gatt’s scaring of thousands of people from the aprty over the years and even incrdibly a member of parliament left the party citing the fact he could not tolerate austin gatt anymore?

      or sour grapes for delia?
      i can assure you i never objected to delia, on the other hand we had very cordial relationship before he started attacking me on facebook

      • L.Gatt
        Posted at 17:42h, 02 August

        Dear Dr. Debono,
        This reply reflects exactly what is wrong with you. You are so easily irked into a frenzy by the slightest comment which stimulates to uncontrollably vent all your arrogance and self centredness. Surely you realise that if you want to be successful in politics you need to keep your cool at all times and smile at adversities.

        • Franco Debono
          Posted at 18:24h, 02 August

          1)What is wrong with you L.Gatt?
          you speak about arrogance and self centredness in a blog about austin gatt and manuel delia? what’s wrong with you?

          2)you are obsessed with form. concentrate on substance.
          sometimes a person may purposedly behave in an unconventional way just to put the focus on substance.

          3)these are times where we hhave been dangerously crawling out of democracy. i hope we have stopped. i just hope.
          such times call for strong measures. how can you be cool when you see our institutions crumbling?
          substance rather than form. form is important too, but must adapt to circumstance

          • L.Gatt
            Posted at 11:39h, 03 August

            Wrong again Dr. Debono. There is nothing wrong with me. A good politician – not having a clue who he’s addressing – would never ask that question in the first place. Politics is about disagreement and confrontation and taking criticism with class and dignity. Being a good politician is not about insulting anybody who disagrees with you. That you are arrogant and self-centred is a fact, not an opinion. Please note that these two traits are not necessarily negative, especially the first. If taken to an extreme, to the point that one thinks there must be something “wrong” with any person who dares to critise him or voice a deferring opinion, then that is another kettle of fish. In my book that amounts to arrogance and extreme self-absorbtion-the stuff that invariably leads to the famous “fall” with a thump ! I say this from experience. I am older than you and have been, lets say ,close to politics, longer than you have. I am not related to Austin Gatt (in case you are thinking eeeeeeeeeee din/dan mhux xi kugin/a ta Austin tghid !). If you must know, my opinion of Austin Gatt is quite low.
            You say politics is mainly about substance not form. Wrong again. You surely want to get elected to be able to “accomplish your mission”. Which type of electorate are you trying to attract? I can safely tell you that I (forty something, disgruntled Nationalist, with a law degree) should be your electoral target. I can assure you that I (and many of my friends) would never vote for you simply because of your coming through as a living advertisement of yourself. You are too intent promoting yourself as a great politician, great poet, great lawyer, sixth former, first former etc. etc. for my and many others to be inspired by you. Trust me – if anybody cared about your accomplishments then they would try to discover them on their own, you do not need to flaunt them constantly. When people do not care to listen to a politician because he does not appeal to them then there is absolutely no way that they will stop to appreciate the “substance” and much less to vote for him.

          • Franco Debono
            Posted at 11:45h, 03 August


            This is completely irrelevant at the moment since the PN executive has taken certain decisions, in complete breach of the principles of natural justice.

            You might not vote for me but in the last election 2065 gave me their first preference. If i would be a candidate in the next election you could see the result then.

            According to the last local council elections, with the same numbers the PN will return only one MP to parliament, thus losing one from the current legislature.

          • Bubu
            Posted at 11:30h, 05 December

            Dr. Debono, you are fond of saying that the parliamentary seat belongs to you and not to the party.
            Fair enough.
            Contest as an independent and we’ll see if you get your 2000-something votes again.

          • Franco Debono
            Posted at 12:08h, 05 December

            1) mp is representative of people elected on party ticket – not as simplistic asx you put it

            2) tell austin gatt to contest independent and see if he gets elected – your argument applies to all

            3) we are the only european country with just two parties in parliament because of flawed electoral laws – first fix electoral laws then invite people to stand as independents

          • Bubu
            Posted at 14:22h, 05 December

            1) which is exactly why you had no right to do what you did. Your constituents did not vote for Franco Debono. They voted for Franco Debono, the member of the Nationalist Party. Now, if mid-legislature, you betray the party, you cannot still claim to have the support of your constituents.
            2) Austin Gatt fully supports his party and has no need to contest as an independent. I suggested you do so only as an attempt to validate your own reasoning, i.e. that the parliamentary seat belongs to you and you alone.
            3) Irrelevant to my suggestion. Even if you were not elected, you would still know how many votes you got and would still be able to compare with your performance in the previous election(s).

      • Joe Vella
        Posted at 12:29h, 03 August

        sour grapes of you are not a minister franco everyone nose only yu say not

  • Antoinette
    Posted at 09:24h, 02 August

    Franco you only have to blame yourself and no one else for Austin Gatt still in parliament.You are the one that abstained if at that time you voted against him ,he would not have stayed in cabinet by now and then it would have been buisness asusual.Franco all you have tosay is MEA CULPA.

  • Fleur
    Posted at 19:14h, 01 August

    No Franco No Vote

  • Huxley
    Posted at 19:12h, 01 August

    While I sympathize with your arguments and you are probably right, an MP has no right to blackmail the Prime Minister that he will withdraw his support for the government if no action is taken. On the other hand there is nothing wrong in demanding political responsibility but the final decision must rest on the PM or the party structures. I believe that if you had taken the same course without threatening to withdraw your support and not voting against CMB it would have been a different story

    • Franco Debono
      Posted at 19:54h, 01 August

      (Aldous) Huxley, what blackmail? ministers who fail miserably should resign. that is ministerial responsibility and part of our constitution. if a PM lets minister do whatever they like, then he cannot expect support from the backbench! very simple. there is no blackmail. simple rules. very basic. after arriva austin should have gone. after justice, home affirs and imigration blunders carm should have waved goodbye. otherwise it is these who are blackmailing not the dissenting backbencher.

      in this legislature you had the horrid episode where cabinet gave itself a payrise behind parliament’s back, whilst withholding the payrise to the rest of parliament. what about teamwork?

      Re CMB i even offered PM to appoint him to other portfolio, but in justice or home affairs he had committed enough mistakes. i wish him well as a person but his performance in theose departments left much to be desired. i even presented a private members motion before Labour’s no confidence vote, which was however not brought up for discussion until recently.

      Mr Huxley, I did my utmost to avoid the CMB vote but i found all doors closed and found myself knocking on stubbornness.

      • Joe Vella
        Posted at 08:44h, 02 August

        you want to removd all ministers to hae a government of only one person? Mao is dead since many years.

        • Franco Debono
          Posted at 10:06h, 02 August

          We have been very close to that : that’s the oligarchy. not one but close. just a handful

      • P.Zammit
        Posted at 01:09h, 06 December

        So if one backbencher is not happy with the performance of a minister …it’s ok to bring down the government … great reasoning.

        • Fleur
          Posted at 09:33h, 06 December

          Ten for sure.saqsi lil JPO