Adrian Delia has held tight through crises of his leadership in the nineteen months he’s been the leader of the PN. He’s hardly done anything else. Things have been so generally rough for him, he recently appraised the state of health of his leadership by saying, rather forlornly, that he didn’t have to worry about a PN split for a while.

If he wasn’t worried about how things were going to be for him this week he has the foresight of Lot’s wife.

The post by Alex Perici Calascione earlier this afternoon may or may not be a challenge by someone with fresh leadership hopes. But the respect Alex Perici Calascione enjoys across all shades of the party make his resounding reminder that “no one is greater than the party” an ominous warning.

Lawrence Zammit’s comments to Newsbook saying Adrian Delia should pack and go are also more dramatic than they might sound at first. Lawrence Zammit has stuck to the background of things strictly enough to avoid the backlash which is inevitable for those speaking like an echo from a rejected past of the PN. 

He is not old guard as such since he was never a guard in the way a member of previous generations of leaders would have been. But he’s the closest the PN has to some residual institutional memory in spite of the repeated pogroms and wilful massacres of the legacy of the Party conducted in the last few years.

Lawrence Zammit’s opinion might sound like it belongs to any other expert for outsiders but its real impact is on party insiders, people who still hold a vote should a leadership election come up. He’s known as the man with the crystal ball relied upon by generations of Party leaders to tell them bluntly what they can expect to happen next. The soothsayer sees no future with Adrian Delia in it.

For at least some people who are still in the thick of it, the crashing collapse of last weekend was the last thing they needed to force them to face the facts and stop giving their blood, sweat and tears to Adrian Delia’s warped vanity project of being the last captain to sail this ship. 

Two sources have told me they heard David Camilleri, the Party’s Treasurer, whose unmitigated passion and commitment is to the Party, say that someone, somewhere must be expected to assume responsibility for the crushing defeat. It’s not an unreasonable thing to ask.

I have seen WhatsApp posts and exchanges by people who volunteered in personal and party campaigns leading to Saturday’s ballot expressing disgust and bewilderment for having been led to believe the party leadership actually had an inkling of what they were doing.

One remarked he prefers to believe the leadership had no idea what they were doing than to believe they knew exactly how bad things would be whilst wilfully driving the entire edifice into the wall.

Adrian Delia will be exchanging nervous glances with party supporters who fell behind him because he sold to them the idea that he would bring victories where his predecessors delivered only defeats. Such a superficial basis for commitment is not likely to survive such a miserable performance as this week’s.

Some of those supporters contested Local Council elections. When votes are counted Wednesday, those glances could turn to grimaces.

The tension goes beyond the narrow circle of party officials, activists and volunteers.

PN voters behaved in a very particular way at Saturday’s elections. Leaving aside those who used to vote PN but in one way or another but chose not to this Saturday — abstaining or voting for someone else — 60% of the 100,000 who cast their vote, picked Roberta Metsola and David Casa as their first preference.

In many ways, as this Caroline Muscat analysis for this morning explains, that was in defiance of the rabid and vicious campaign of the Labour Party against them. Roberta Metsola secured 38,206 votes, an impressive number. But David Casa became the first ever electoral battle Joseph Muscat went to fight since 2013 and lost. 

But Roberta Metsola and David Casa did not only outlive the onslaught of the wrath and fury of Joseph Muscat. They also survived the PN leadership’s thinly concealed preference for all other candidates but them.

This was a resounding response from PN voters that demonstrates just how ineffective the party leadership is in mobilising voters who would tend to vote PN.

Consider also how some of the closest MPs to Adrian Delia failed to mobilise their own personal voting base to support the party. The biggest drops on PN turnout were in the 9th and 12th districts that Kristy Debono and Robert Arrigo performed poorly in the job of having them turn out to vote.

The MPs that are often caricatured as outside Adrian Delia’s fanbase on the other hand hail from electoral districts which actually saw Labour losing out on votes: the 1st and the 4th districts for example, where Claudio Grech, Mario de Marco and Jason Azzopardi come from.

Online polls are not statistically accurate indicators but if they do confirm other reliable indicators they could be useful pointers of the public mood. There’s hardly a more reliable statistical measure than the election results in themselves. In the aftermath of that, Times of Malta online is asking respondents if Adrian Delia should resign after the MEP election landslide defeat? Of 3,378 voters at the time of writing, 74% answered in the affirmative.

Some remarked that in resigning their leadership of the Patriotti outfit and of the Partit Demokratiku Henry Battitstino and Godfrey Farrugia are making Adrian Delia look bad, comparing as he does unfavourably with them in his unwillingness to assume any responsibility for the electoral defeat.

Perhaps. Though to be fair the baby-eating fascists are hardly the proper standard of propriety.

Once again it’s Simon Busuttil that is making Adrian Delia look bad. Confronted with a smaller electoral defeat Simon Busuttil assumed responsibility and resigned. I’ll be the first to criticise him for quitting too quickly, too suddenly without proper regard for succession and continuity. I would not recommend his methods to anyone.

But I can never agree that “this is the worst time for the party to make changes”.

This is quite possibly the best possible time.

Earlier today I busted the myth planted yesterday by Joseph Muscat that he overtook Sir Paul Boffa’s majority over the PN of 59.9% over 18% from 1947. He didn’t, of course.

Jogging the memory of that historical episode reminded me of what happened next. After the 1947 election, Dom Mintoff challenged his party leader who was a sitting Prime Minister and split the Labour movement. Within 3 years, the PN came back from a disastrous 18% vote run to governing the country.

Change can happen. But it needs to start somewhere.