Tuesday reshuffle leads to new
and old faces
Unprecedented changes in voters preferences for members of Eddie
Fenech Adamis cabinet have severely decimated support for ministers
and other junior ministers.
Two ministers and one parliamentary secretary failed to be elected this
year, their seats having been nabbed by newcomers to the district. Their
chances at regaining their seat are yet to be seen if they contest the
casual elections for the excess votes from candidates relinquishing
their dual election.
Others have seen their vote share decrease considerably since 1998.
But the 2003 general elections vicissitudes have seen other ministers
consolidating their support, Foreign Minister Joe Borg being one of
them. He managed to secure both seats in his dual candidacy on the ninth
and ten districts, with 4,753 and 3,262 votes respectively.
Borgs popularity was confirmed through his influential position
as foreign minister in Maltas EU negotiations, his relinquished
seat could help someone from the tenth district get back into Parliament.
It could be Michael Refalo, Tourism Minister and the eldest member of
the last cabinet, who failed to be elected in the tenth district, losing
out on Sliema mayor and football club president Robert Arrigo.
He is superseded as Tourism Minister by former Resources and Development
Minister Francis Zammit Dimech.
Refalo had been an MP since 1971, and was appointed Parliamentary Secretary
for Tourism in 1987 and Minister for Justice and Culture in 1995.
With Zammit Dimech and Borg both elected in the ninth and the tenth
districts, it is likely that both will relinquish their seats in the
tenth districts. This sets the road open for casual elections in the
tenth, with Michael Frendo and Refalo both in the running for the open
Josef Bonnici, Minister for Economic Services, was another cabinet member
who suffered a great blow in this years election.
A candidate in the eighth district, Bonnici was aiming to scoop up a
seat Eddie Fenech Adamis excess votes. Fenech Adami won 11,537
first preference votes. However, it was Birkirkara mayor Tonio Fenech
who capitalised on the Prime Ministers second preferences.
Finance Minister John Dalli and newly-appointed Technology and Investment
Minister Austin Gatt, will be taking over the economic services ministrys
Bonnici also contested the eleventh district, where Fenech Adami, Tony
Abela and Edwin Vassallo secured their seats.
With Fenech Adami probably relinquishing his seat in the eighth district,
Bonnici will probably have to face Michael Asciak in a casual election
which will determine which one of them will return to Parliament.
George Hyzler, Parliamentary Secretary for Economic Services, was also
one of the surprise losses of this election. His post will be taken
up by Tony Abela in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Services.
He failed to get elected in the sixth district, his home territory since
1992, and instead saw his seat filled in by young aspirant and former
mayor Clyde Puli, who has been vying for the sixth district seat since
Also contesting the tenth district for the first time ever, Hyzler hoped
to capitalise on Guido de Marcos votes, lying vacant since his
appointment as President of the Republic.
Hyzler was co-opted into Parliament in 1995 to fill his father George
J Hyzlers post when the latter resigned. He first contested the
elections in 1992.
Hyzlers absence from this legislature breaks a long-standing tradition
for the Hyzlers, having been members of each legislature since 1947
and active in parliament through the Democratic Action Party, Boffas
Malta Workers Party, the Malta Labour Party and the Nationalist Party.
It was former Justice and Local Councils Minister Austin Gatt who made
incredible gains in the first district. Moving ahead on his own steam,
having been elected through a casual election in 1998, Gatt increased
his first count votes by 62 per cent to 3,618.
Gozo Minister Giovanno Debono seems to have done wonders for her campaign,
her votes increasing by 33 per cent over 1998s performance to
a massive 6,591 votes and her Gozitan fiefdom secured until next elections.
Finance Minister John Dallis performance in the sixth district
saw his first count votes fall by 11.6 per cent this year to 3,059 but
then register a 1,650 first count votes on the 7 district which he contested
for the first time. Newcomer Clyde Puli managed to capitalise on George
Hyzlers and Antoine Mifsud Bonnicis decrease in first preference
votes, to clinch the second PN seat. Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence
Gonzi also saw his first count votes decrease this year, a loss of 11.4
per cent since 1998.