Update 2 | PN casual election paves way for new faces in parliament

By means of a secret vote, the Nationalist Party on Monday evening decided which electoral seats were to be given up

Will Robert Arrigo’s seat secure George Pullicino’s return to parliament?
Will Robert Arrigo’s seat secure George Pullicino’s return to parliament?

It will be a hard-fought battle for former Nationalist minister George Pullicino, who despite standing a good chance of returning to parliament, still has to battle Graziella Attard Previ – a strong favourite to inherit Robert Arrigo’s votes.

Pullicino, who contested the 2017 general election on the 10th district, garnered 1,088 first preference votes. However, Attard Previ is expected to get a strong number of votes once Arrigo’s votes are distributed.

The district, a PN stronghold, saw PN candidates Robert Arrigo and Karl Gouder and PD leader Marlene Farrugia securing their seats in parliament.

A seat is given up when a candidate is elected from more than one district. On Monday evening, by means of a secret vote, the roughly 60 members making up the party’s executives voted on which seats were to be given up by PN leader Simon Busuttil, deputy leader Beppe Fenech Adami, Robert Arrigo, David Agius and Marthese Portelli.

The executive decided that Agius and Busuttil should give up their seats on District 11; Fenech Adami will be giving up his seat on District 7 while Portelli is giving up her seat on District 13.

Read more: District votes and individual counts

The executive’s decision means that Arrigo – who proved to be the PN’s most popular candidate on District 10 with 4,793 first preference votes – will be forced to forfeit his seat, giving Pullicino and Attard Previ a hard-fought battle.

In 2013, the executive had opted for Pullicino to give up the seat when both Arrigo and Pullicino were elected from District 10. In 2008, Arrigo ceded his seat on District 9; and he was elected on the tenth district in 2003.

But the PN executive committee’s decision not to open the votes on District 9, even though it was possible, was not taken kindly to.

PN candidate Ivan Bartolo took to Facebook to express his regret at the decision: “My short career in politics comes to an end today. The executive members of the PN decided to vote to keep the ninth district closed. I thank all those who believed in a fresh look, in a new beginning and in new progressive positive ideas. Politics is no longer on my radar.”

On the seventh district, the battle is between Antoine Borg and Sam Abela… followed closely by Godfrey Farrugia.

The availability of two seats on the 11th districts means Mosta mayor Ivan Bartolo and PN treasurer Alex Perici Calascione will be likely be elected to the House.

Finally, on the thirteenth district, Kevin Cutajar and David Stellini stand the strongest to be elected.