Three-horse race likely for MLP
secretary general post
By Kurt Sansone
It was October 1989 when Wenzu Mintoff was elected chairperson of Alternattiva
Demokratika after being unceremoniously dumped by the Labour Party for
criticising the violent and corrupt elements that militated within.
14 years later and almost to the day, Dr Mintoff is back in Labours
fold and vying for the post of secretary general. The former MLP whip
and parliamentarian threw in his nomination at the last minute on Monday
evening, a move that caught other contenders by surprise.
Dr Mintoff is the dark horse in the race for the post of secretary general
and little is known about the support he enjoys among party delegates.
Dr Mintoffs past and political weight are expected to make him
one of the main contenders, along with veteran labour candidate Alfred
Grixti and former deputy secretary general Keith Grech.
With a month to go before the MLPs general conference, the race
for the partys top administrative post will be an interesting
one to watch as the prospective candidates warm up to party delegates.
Both Alfred Grixti and Keith Grech have been meeting delegates over
the past few weeks, contrary to Dr Mintoff who maintained a low profile
to the very last day.
The battle for the hearts and minds of party delegates will see reformers
cross swords with others, who are entrenched in Alfred Sants camp.
Mr Grixti, a former administration official, has strong roots among
delegates and the odds on him winning the race are high. But victory
is not a foregone conclusion. Mr Grixti is a Sant loyalist and if delegates
are in the mood of continuing the reform started when Michael Falzon
and Charles Mangion were elected deputy leaders, he may find the going
On the other hand, Keith Grech has publicly declared his position in
favour of further reform, clearly aligning himself to the Falzon-Mangion
reformist movement. Mr Grechs biggest drawback is his young age,
which may distance party delegates.
It is in this context that Wenzu Mintoff emerges as an
outsider. He could possibly be seen by delegates as the ideal candidate
to make a clean break with the past and offer political substance to
the post of secretary general. However, Dr Mintoff can also be questionable
to the delegates given his late-eighties expulsion from Labour and then
his late-nineties departure from Alternattiva.
The other contenders for the post of secretary general are former CNI
campaigner Lorna Vassallo, TVM presenter Jason Micallef, Mosta candidate
Joe Chetcuti and Marsaskala local councillor Chris Agius.
Despite her eurosceptic outlook and her short fling with the Campaign
for National Independence, Lorna Vassallo does not seem to have any
particular backing from Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici.
The other coveted post, that of president of the party, will be contested
by the incumbent Manwel Cuschieri and lawyer Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi.
It still remains to be seen whether Mr Cuschieri, representing the old
guard, will have a better showing than the deputy leader race in which
he garnered a meagre 66 votes.
The elections for all posts on the MLPs administration are conducted
on a first past the post system. The candidate, who polls the highest
number of votes wins. There will be no run-off between the top two contenders
as normally happens in the race for the party leadership.
The whole list of candidates is expected to be published today, after
the MLPs Electoral Commission would have vetted all the nominations