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Labour leadership concerned but unwilling to block former secretary-general’s candidature
Jason Micallef refuses to resign as One TV chairman.
7 August 2012, 12:00am
As party secretary-general, Micallef had in the past imposed that all staff at One TV should resign from their posts if they chose to stand as candidates.
But Micallef has since strained relations with many of Joseph Muscat's lieutenants and his relations with the party leader are considered to be far from good.
The decision by the PL administration to appoint Micallef as chairman of One TV was interpreted as a sop to convince Micallef to move out quietly from the PL's administration.
Members of Muscat's inner circle describe Micallef as a "loose cannon" due to what they perceive is his boisterousness and owing to the fact that he tends to put himself in the limelight with an ostentatious lifestyle: his personal vehicle, a Mercedes Benz, seems to have fuelled this perception among some Labour insiders.
But more importantly, his decision to put forward his candidature comes after Muscat publicly thanked him in the last general conference for deciding not to stand for the national elections.
The sudden change of heart has shocked the PL administration.
Sources at One TV told MaltaToday that Jason Micallef refuses to resign as chairman of One TV, even though the post creates a conflict of interest with his candidature.
Micallef believes that he has a good chance of winning, though he is up against deep-seated or so called 'star candidates' in the Mosta constituency which all come armed with the vote-winning 'blessing' of the party leadership.
His relations are not only strained with many of Muscat's inner circle, but more importantly with deputy leader Anglu Farrugia, who is a heavyweight candidate and parliamentarian renowned to have clashed with Micallef.
The other parliamentarians in the constituency are hospital paramedic and MP Anthony Agius Decelis, and GP Michael Farrugia, who is now being threatened by the arrival of 'star candidate' Deborah Schembri, the pro-divorce campaigner and former Nationalist who jumped on the Labour bandwagon and stands a good chance of attracting disgruntled Nationalist voters.
With such strong candidates, Micallef will struggle to get elected, and the next few weeks will determine whether he will stay on or leave as chairman of One TV.
James Debono is MaltaToday's chief reporter on environment, planning and land use issues, ...
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