[WATCH] Two women MPs to join Cabinet after casual elections

Prime Minister will add two women MPs to his Cabinet once casual elections take place and the gender corrective mechanism is applied

Prime Minister Robert Abela during the swearing-in ceremony on Wednesday (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)
Prime Minister Robert Abela during the swearing-in ceremony on Wednesday (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)

Prime Minister Robert Abela will include two women MPs in his already-announced Cabinet, once casual elections take place and Malta’s first-ever female quotas for MPs are applied.

In comments to the media soon after the swearing in ceremony of his new Cabinet on Wednesday, Abela said that two more Cabinet positions are yet to be filled by women. The Cabinet’s female ministers are incumbents Miriam Dalli, who is environment and energy minister, and Julia Farrugia-Portelli who is minister for social inclusion. Abela’s newly-elected sister-in-law Alison Zerafa Civelli, a former mayor of Bormla, will be parliamentary secretary.

Malta’s parliament will now grow by an additional 12 seats at the end of the electoral process when its first-ever gender corrective mechanism kicks in. The mechanism is intended to boost the number of women MPs and will be used for the first time in the 2022 election.

The Labour Party’s first casual election took place in the ninth district, where two sitting MPs elected on double districts vacated their seats, making way for Rebecca Buttigieg, the only candidate left to contest the casual election.

Abela was asked whether his immediate co-option of former party CEO Randolph Debattista to the second seat in the ninth district, so soon after the election, had been undemocratic: the two MPs who ceded their ninth district seat were also elected on the 10th, where one seat could have given way to a casual election.

Abela justified the move as part of a “regeneration” process within the government and the Labour Party. “This regeneration must continue and the strong mandate we received from the people means that we cannot stop renewing our team.”

Incumbents Michael Falzon and Clifton Grima were elected on both the ninth and 10th districts. After the Labour executive voted to have the two MPs give up their ninth district, it was left to Labour to elected Buttigieg automatically, while Abela presented a motion for a co-option.

Abela said Debattista’s co-option was permissible and argued that the former Labour CEP was a competent individual who had worked both abroad and in Malta.

In the previous legislature Abela had co-opted no less than five MPs, most never having contested the general election: he appointed to his Cabinet his chief of staff Clyde Caruana and former MEP Miriam Dalli, and introduced former disability commission chief Oliver Scicluna, Jonathan Attard – now justice minister – and Andy Ellul.

Asked whether the decision to exclude former ministers Edward Zammit Lewis and Carmelo Abela from the Cabinet had been based on allegations they were facing, Abela said his Cabinet was a the start of a new chapter for his government. “There were those who were not in a position to offer a strong contribution anymore.”

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