The choice that GSD members face in selecting a new party leader is crucial to its survival, leadership candidate Keith Azopardi said as he urged members to choose someone who can take the party through into the next election to debate with Chief Minister Fabian Picardo the big issues on the horizon.
Mr Azopardi said the GSD is at a “crossroads” and he urged members to come out in numbers to vote later this month, because “their decision will affect the party’s prospects into the future and the way the community is run as a whole”.
As the leadership election looms, Mr Azopardi addressed reporters at a press conference in which he insisted he was setting out a “much deeper and more radical” programme than that of his rival, interim Opposition leader Roy Clinton.
“I want people to vote positively in this election,” he said.
“I want people to hear me out, give me a fair hearing, listen to Roy as well and then, pound-for-pound, decide who is the better candidate in their view to lead this party to greater success, to reach all sectors of society.”
Mr Azopardi’s bid has been endorsed by political heavyweight and GSD elder statesman Sir Peter Caruana.
In a blow to Mr Clinton, Sir Peter recently publicly backed Mr Azopardi, describing him as the “better and stronger” of the two candidates contesting the leadership. At the time, Mr Clinton said he was “disappointed” by the intervention, adding he had hoped Sir Peter would have remained impartial.
Flagging Mr Clinton’s reaction to Sir Peter’s endorsement of him, Mr Azopardi said it was a “massive contradiction” that democrats should seek to “gag” party members from expressing a view in what was the “most important election in the party’s history”.
“We are democrats for better or worse – whether we like what is said or not,” he said.
“Nor is Sir Peter’s endorsement of me an attempt not to stand on my own merits as was also rather disappointingly inferred,” Mr Azopardi said.
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