The election for PL Deputy Leader for Party Affairs will be a one-horse race as only one submission – that of Health and Energy Minster Konrad Mizzi – has been received by the 8pm deadline.
The post will be vacated after incumbent Toni Abela was nominated by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to serve as Malta’s member at the European Court of Auditors.
Dr Mizzi submitted his nomination on Saturday.
It has long been speculated that the Prime Minister wanted Dr Mizzi, a personal friend of his, to take up the post. Until a few days ago the Minister was ineligible for the post because he is a sitting MP. But the Labour Party extraordinary general conference last week approved a proposal by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat for a change in the party statute, allowing the post to be taken up by an MP. 393 delegates voted in favour with only one voting against.
A number of MPs and Labour officials had been named as possible contenders for the post but it is all but confirmed now that Mizzi will be running alone. Justice Minister Owen Bonnici had been touted for the post but he has seconded Mizzi’s nomination, effectively ruling himself out of the race. The other MP touted as a possible ‘rival,’ Tourism Minister Edward Zammit Lewis, has also supported Konrad Mizzi’s nomination.
The fact that Dr Mizzi is the sole contender for the post is ironic, seeing that the PL had raised a stink when former Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi had contested alone for the role of PN Leader in 2012. Dr Gonzi had called for a reconfirmation as a reaction to the backbench rebellion, and won with 96.5% of the vote.
The PL had also tried to ridicule the PN when Mario de Marco was uncontested for the post of Deputy Leader for Parliamentary Affairs the following year.
A PL spokesperson said a “confirmation vote” would be held even if there was only one name in the hat. The successful contender would have to obtain 50%+1 of the vote in the closing session of the Extraordinary General Conference, which will be held on 25 February. All delegates will be eligible to vote but the vote will be secret.
Incumbent Toni Abela has not resigned so far but it is understood that he will be stepping down close to, or shortly after, the vote. The new Deputy Leader for Party Affairs can only take office once Dr Abela resigns.