MLP delegates talk of split if
Cuschieri is deputy leader
The Labour Partys post-election throes will possibly
come to an end tomorrow with the election of two deputy leaders. But
delegates speaking to The Malta Financial and Business Times said if
Manwel Cuschieri is elected deputy leader, the move could provoke a
split within the party.
Delegates clamouring for change in the party did not manage to topple
Alfred Sant, but last weeks leadership vote saw the leaders
internal support dip below the 70 per cent mark, as this newspaper had
For pro-change delegates Sants rating was considered to be a mini
victory, especially when compared to the 98 per cent approval rating
Sant got in 1998.
It is widely believed that the real battle for change will be held tomorrow
when delegates have a freer hand in deciding on who should occupy the
deputy leadership posts alongside Sant.
Cuschieri is a loyal foot soldier of Sants clan and his attitude
is often blamed for keeping moderate floating voters away from the Labour
Party. His election as deputy leader would most definitely send the
wrong message to middle of the road voters and possibly force moderate
Labourites to abandon the party.
Cuschieri currently occupies the post of president of the MLP and has
strong support among Labour die-hards. However, his bid for deputy leader
party affairs will face a stiff challenge from the partys election
manager Michael Falzon.
A moderate, Falzon is also loved by Labours hard core. He is credited
for turning the MLPs election mechanism into an efficient tool
and is internally praised for his organisational skills. Falzons
support stems from his contact with thousands of volunteers during the
The race for deputy leader party affairs also sees the charismatic Evarist
Bartolo contesting. A Sant loyalist, Bartolo is popular among Labour
delegates. He was the only other candidate along with Alfred Sant and
George Vella to be elected from two districts in the general election.
Having pulled out of the leadership contest once Sant decided to run,
it remains unclear why Bartolo chose to contest the same post as Cuschieris,
It is argued that Cuschieri might be the decoy to erode Falzons
electoral base thus allowing Bartolo to eventually win the contest.
The other contestants for the post of deputy leader party affairs are
Joe Debono Grech and Alfred Mifsud. Both contenders are unlikely to
leave the same impression as Falzon, Cuschieri and Bartolo.
Another keen contest is expected for the post of deputy leader parliamentary
affairs. Tying his re-election bid, albeit for a different post, to
Alfred Sants election as leader, Joe Brincat is expected to ride
on the same wave of sympathy that saw Sant home.
But Brincat is poised to face a stiff challenge from Charles Mangion
and Leo Brincat. Mangion has strong roots among delegates and is known
to work with everyone.
It is rumoured that Mangion and Michael Falzon have co-operated closely
to ensure that they get elected. The duo, are championed by delegates
clamouring for change.
On the other hand, Leo Brincat has been campaigning for quite some time
and initially also tied his bid to Evarist Bartolos candidature.
The other contender for the post of deputy leader parliamentary affairs
is Jose Herrera, who is unlikely to impress with his result.