PN deputy leader Simon Busuttil says election was lost before he entered the fray, confirms he will hold seat in Maltese Parliament.
Nationalist deputy leader Simon Busuttil, elected to the post one month before the campaign officially kicked off, admitted that the election was a foregone conclusion before the start of the electoral campaign in January.
Speaking to TVM on Monday, Busuttil said: "Everybody must assume responsibility, including myself, however it is evident that the margin is too big and was decided before the campaign started."
The PN was consigned to the Opposition after 15 years in government with 43% of the vote, a defeat that handed Labour a 35,000 vote majority.
However Busuttil pointed out that although the campaign made no difference at all. "I entered the fray as the campaign kicked off and I did my utmost to help my party when it needed it most."
Busuttil, who will relinquish his MEP seat this week, would not commit himself on whether he would throw his name in the hat when the PN chooses its next leader, insisting that he needed time to reflect on whether he should contest.
In a column he penned for The Times, Busuttil write: "When I decided to contest the deputy leadership of the party just a few days before the Government collapsed, I knew I that I was coming in at a very difficult time when the easiest thing for me to do was to stay out of it."
He added that before taking up the post, he was aware that Labour had an "almost unassailable lead" but stressed that he was "prepared to face the consequences."
"But I do have a clear conscience. I am proud to have been there for my party in the hour of need and I would not have forgiven myself if I had not done my part when the party needed help most."
In the past, Busuttil had turned down the offer for the post of secretary-general when he had been asked by Gonzi. Instead he decided in 2012 to contest for the position of deputy leader once it was vacated by Tonio Borg.
In contrast, hours after the announcement of Labour's thumping victory, PN leader Lawrence Gonzi assumed "complete and total responsibility" for the defeat and said that he would be stepping down from the party leadership.
The PN statute stipulates that the party leader has to be confirmed by the party's general council within three months of a general election, and Gonzi said that he would not be submitting his name, effectively meaning that the PN would need to hold a contest.
In the deputy leadership contest held four months ago, Busuttil had seen off the only other contender former finance minister Tonio Fenech and obtained 72.4% of the vote. Busuttil had sold himself as a deputy leader who was aware of the lead Labour had but that he was the only chance for the party to win the election.
In his first address as deputy leader, Busuttil had vowed to build a bridge with disgruntled voters and said that the PN could win the 9 March election.
"Let us fill ourselves with hope, courage, enthusiasm, and determination and let us all believe once that together we can win again," he had told the PN councillors on 30 November.