The Malta Independent 15 July 2020, Wednesday

Watch: Labour leadership election - Robert Abela elected new PL leader and PM

Saturday, 11 January 2020, 20:00 Last update: about 7 months ago

Robert Abela has been elected Labour Party Leader - and will be sworn in as Malta's Prime Minister - after handsomely beating Chris Fearne.

What was being billed as a close affair turned out to be a much easier victory for the younger Abela, who immediately accumulated a steady lead which he kept all throughout the counting process.

In all, 17,531 Labour Party members were eligible to vote, with 16,216 exercising this right, or 92.5%.

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Abela obtained 9,342 votes, or 57.9%, against Fearne's 6,798, or 41.1%. Seventy six votes were invalid.

Scenes of jubilation by Abela's supporters started way before he crossed the finishing line as it became increasinly apparent that he was to be elected as the party's new chief.

In comments soon after the victory was announced, Abela pledged to keep the party united and hoped that this will be translated into unity for the country.

He thanked his adversary Chris Fearne for his contribution to the party, and said that he welcomes the task he has been given "with humility".

He will now been sworn in as Malta's 14th Prime Minister, once Muscat completes the formalities of his resignation.

Robert Abela, a lawyer by profession, has served as legal consultant to Muscat’s Cabinet. He is married to Lydia, who is the Labor Party’s executive secretary, and they have a daughter.

The new Labour leader will be making his first official address Sunday afternoon.

Abela is the son of George Abela, who had been beaten by Muscat in the 2008 PL leadership election.

Muscat announced his resignation on 1 December, one days after hotelier Yorgen Fenech was charged with complicity in the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia. A few days earlier, Muscat's right hand man Keith Schembri had been arrested and questioned in connection with the murder. He was later released but remains under investigation.

Voting in the election closed at 8pm, with the counting process starting just after midnight. Abela was announced as the winner at 1.35am.

The turnout as at 2pm was 58%.

PL members voted at 13 polling stations - one in each electoral district. 

A number of Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries have also congratulated Abela on their social media pages.

Electoral Commissioner Dean Hili earlier told The Malta Independent that the final result was expected at around 1am or 2am.

Hili said that the party commission will give the final result. 

 

 

Photos/videos; Alenka Falzon

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