Labour MPs vacate ninth district seats: Rebecca Buttigieg elected, Randolph Debattista co-opted

Labour Party executive announces which seats will be vacated by MPs elected on double constituencies

Randolph Debattista (left) and Rebecca Buttigieg
Randolph Debattista (left) and Rebecca Buttigieg

The Labour Party will elect candidate Rebecca Buttigieg to the House after a decision from its national executive to vacate the two seats held by incumbents Michael Falzon and Clifton Grima on the ninth district.

Falzon and Grima were also elected on the 10th district, while the ninth district saw candidates Edward Zammit Lewis and Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi elected on other districts, leaving just candidate Rebecca Buttigieg as the remaining Labour candidate.

Buttigieg received 824 first-count votes, ending her run wih 1,652 votes and sixth in the ninth district race.

MPs who vacate their parliamentary seat trigger a casual election, where their votes are counting again from the beginning, by allocating successive preferences on their ballots to the candidates contesting the casual election. With just one Labour candidate remaining, the seat automatically goes to Buttigieg.  

The Labour Party’s editor of its English news website The Journal, Randolph Debattista, has also been co-opted to the House, to take up the remaining seat vacated by the ninth district MPs. The motion was presented by Labour leader Robert Abela, and approved unanimously by the Labour executive.

Only five candidates were fielded in this district, allowing Labour to co-opt Debattista, who did not contest the elections. Debattista, former CEO of the Labour Party, is the husband of Labour MEP Cyrus Engerer.

In an official statement, the PL said that by secret ballot, the national executive and the parliamentary group had voted to: vacate Robert Abela’s seat on the fifth district, Chris Fearne’s fourth district seat, Clyde Caruana’s second district seat, Owen Bonnici’s third district seat, Ian Borg’s sixth district seat, Silvio Schembri’s seventh district seat, and Miriam Dalli’s 11th district seat.

The casual elections could open various options on who can make it to the House: in the second district, former MPs Glenn Bedingfield, Oliver Scicluna and Joe Mizzi failed to get elected, while former MEP candidate James Grech ended the race with 1,961 votes; in the third district, Alicia Bugeja Said ended the race with 2,122 votes; in the fourth, former MP Oliver Scicluna ended the race with 1,972 votes; in the fifth district, the race could favour candidate Omar Farrugia; in the sixth district, former MP Rosianne Cutajar ended the race with a high tally of 2,919 votes; in the seventh, Haż-Żebbuġ mayor Malcolm Agius Galea narrowly missed election; while in the 11th district, Mosta mayor Romilda Baldacchino Zarb and former MP Anthony Agius Decelis will likely contest the casual election.