Updated | Marlene Farrugia elected on 10th district, George Pullicino out of race

She has made it! PD leader Marlene Farrugia takes former minister George Pullicino out of the race to be elected on the tenth district

tim_diacono
Tim Diacono
6 June 2017, 8:56am
Last updated on 6 June 2017, 11:30am
She has made it! Partit Demokratiku leader Marlene Farrugia at a PN mass meeting in Gozo. Photo: James Bianchi
She has made it! Partit Demokratiku leader Marlene Farrugia at a PN mass meeting in Gozo. Photo: James Bianchi
End of an era: George Pullicino
End of an era: George Pullicino
Former Labour MP and Partit Demokratiku leader Marlene Farrugia has battled PN incumbents Karl Gouder and George Pullicino to take a seat from the tenth district, and be elected on the PN ticket.

Former environment minister and Nationalist MP George Pullicino has declared he will not be elected from his traditional 10th district, a PN stronghold that has returned him to parliament since 1992.

Pullicino, 53, will most likely be pipped to the House by Democratic Party leader Marlene Farrugia, who contested on the PN ticket and presented PN voters with a new face.

Former Sliema mayor Robert Arrigo led the PN candidates this around taking the highest number of first-count votes.

“Although my first preferences on the 10th district placed me in third place, I will not be elected this time round. I am honoured and privileged to have served the PN, my constituents and my country for 21 years as MP and 15 years as minister,” Pullicino said.
“My gratitude goes to those who have believed and supported me throughout these years. My heartfelt thank you most of all to my family but also colleagues, those who I have worked closely with, friends and constituents.  The last few days were disconcerting for all of us but our values and principles must remain our guiding light.”

Pullicino was formerly a minister for the environment, resources and rural affairs between 2003 and 2013. He presided over a controversial extension of development boundaries in 2006, provoking protest from environmental NGOs. Between 1998 and 2003 he was parliamentary secretary in the home affairs ministry.

Should Marlene Farrugia seal victory in the tenth district – which includes Sliema, St Julian’s, Gzira and Pembroke – she will make history by being the first MP from a third party to be elected to Parliament since Malta’s Independence, albeit under the PN ticket.

The PN’s margin of victory in the tenth means that it is expected to elect three MPs from it, one of whom will be Robert Arrigo.

Yet the battle for the two remaining seats is a tight one. As of the 28th count, Farrugia is in the lead with 2,202 votes, followed by PN MP Karl Gouder with 2,149 votes, former minister George Pullicino with 1,986 and medical consultant Nick Refalo with 1,945.

 

Sociologist and former Alternattiva Demokratika chairperson Michael Briguglio, who campaigned strongly for Forza Nazzjonali in this election, praised Marlene Farrugia as a “rainbow in the dark”.

“Building bridges, avoiding sectarianism, giving hope. Numbers don't lie,” he said on Facebook.

Marlene Farrugia had originally intended to run this election on the fifth and seventh districts, but decided to scrap the seventh for the tenth at the last minute.

“Things changed and the tenth district requires a strong candidature,” Farrugia replied when asked to explain what prompted the change. "After all, for the past seven years, I have split my life between Qrendi and Sliema and I know very well that Sliema, St Julian's and nearby villages - more so than others - have seen a fair share of abuse over the years."

Meanwhile, Labour is expected to elect two MPs from this district – who look set to be education minister Evarist Bartolo and MP Michael Falzon.