More trouble on the horizon for Delia: the PN losing key local councils

Here are the towns Adrian Delia cannot afford to lose if he wants to fight off the rebels that want to dethrone him 

The PN risks losing its already restricted majorities in San Gwann, Valletta, Mosta, Nadur and St Paul’s Bay if the increase in the gap between the two parties is also confirmed at local level.

The loss of any of these localities will pile pressure on embattled PN leader Adrian Delia as the votes are counted over the next three days.

Weighing on the PN’s prospects will be any discrepancy in support between local and European elections.

An even poorer result at local level may be a clear indication that a category of PN voters abstained in local elections, while still voting for David Casa and Roberta Metsola in the European elections.

This could be lethal in localities where the PN holds with a very restricted majority.

READ MORE European elections: PN’s only absolute majority was in the tenth district

The locality which the PN risks losing the most is St Paul’s Bay, Malta’s most populous locality which also includes the highest number of non-Maltese residents, which the PN won by a whisker in 2015. The outgoing council was also dogged by PN infighting.

Another locality which Labour may take amidst a drop in the PN’s turnout, is San Gwann, in which the PN only won a majority of seats in 2013 thanks to vote transfers.

A more devastating blow would be the loss of Nadur in Gozo, a locality held by the PN since the introduction of local councils and which is associated with big names like former Nationalist ministers Giovanna Debono and Chris Said, himself a former mayor of Nadur.

In 2015 the Gozitan locality was won by the PN by just 50.2%. Weighing on this election is a drop of eight points in turnout. One reason for the drop is that the last round of local elections in that locality coincided with the spring hunting referendum and a higher turnout in pro-hunting, rural areas. But inroads made by Labour in Gozo in the past years could unseat Nadur’s Nationalist majority. But the popularity of incumbent mayor Edward Said could still save the day for the PN. 

Although the PN is defending a more comfortable 52% majority in Mosta, the 10-point drop in turnout could be devastating for the PN if the drop was more pronounced among its voters. Labour had already won the locality in the past and any national shift in its favour increases its chances of winning Malta’s third largest locality.

Valletta, which the PN won by 51.6% of the vote against the PL’s 48.4% may also be at risk, amidst a 19-point drop in turnout from 2013.

On that occasion turnout was substantially higher because local elections coincided with general elections.

Siggiewi, which like Nadur was always held by the PN, and which the PN won more comfortably by 53% in 2015, may be more vulnerable this time round if the 8-point drop in turnout is more pronounced among PN voters.

The PL will be also be defending tight majorities in Msida, Pietà, Birkirkara, Mtarfa and Mellieha. Msida has seen one of the largest drops in turnout since 2013 (-24 points) but this can be partly explained by the increase in foreigners living in the locality.

In Birkirkara, which the PL won by just 50.4%, the PN’s efforts to retake the locality may be hampered if the drop in turnout is more pronounced among its voters.

But the sharpest decrease in turnout when compared to 2013 was registered in Labour-led Pembroke. The massive 49-point drop in turnout coincides with the start of massive construction works related to the DB project and could reflect dissatisfaction with a project pushed by central government, which had also been opposed by the Labour-led council.

Another locality which has seen a massive drop in turnout since 2013 is Labour-led Marsaskala. But this can be partly explained by an increase in foreigners registered in this locality. This could also partly explain a similar drop in turnout in Sliema, which the PN had won by 66% in 2013. The PN’s 56% majority in Naxxar may also become smaller if the 22-point drop in turnout is more pronounced among its voters.