Andy Ellul tipped for co-option to fill seat vacated by Silvio Grixti on Third District

Robert Abela’s choice for a co-option to fill the seat vacated by Silvio Grixti on the Third District is likely to zoom in on Andy Ellul, a Labour candidate on the same district

Labour candidate Andy Ellul is tipped to be co-opted instead of Labour MP Silvio Grixti
Labour candidate Andy Ellul is tipped to be co-opted instead of Labour MP Silvio Grixti

As Robert Abela considers different names to replace former MP Silvio Grixti, his choice is likely to fall on Andy Ellul, a candidate on the same district.

Grixti, a medical doctor, resigned his parliamentary seat following a police investigation into fraudulent medical certificates.

Inconspicuous at a national level, Grixti was however well-loved by his patients and constituents. In the last election he was elected on the Third District, which includes Żejtun and Marsaskala, and obtained the third highest first count vote result after Chris Fearne and Carmelo Abela.

After Grixti’s resignation, hand-written messages of support for Grixti were plastered on electricity poles along Żejtun’s main street.

Sources close to the Labour Party have suggested that given the proximity of the election and Grixti’s pulling power in the Third District, the Prime Minister would be giving weight to someone who will be contesting there.

“It is evident that the Prime Minister wants someone who represents renewel in the Labour parliamentary group just like the previous four co-options and the most obvious choice is Andy Ellul,” the sources said.

Ellul will be contesting the Third District in the upcoming election, having contested the Fourth last time around.

It is understood that Labour candidates who were eligible to contest the casual election to fill Grixti’s seat were asked not to submit their nominations, giving Abela the freedom to co-opt someone of his choice.

READ ALSO: Labour to co-opt fifth MP after no contest in casual election to replace Silvio Grixti

The PL secured four of the five seats in the Third District for a second election in a row in 2017, with sources saying that Abela would want to retain that supremacy.

However, the Prime Minister is understood to be considering other names, including those of Rebecca Buttigieg, considered to be a rising star within the party, and Mosta mayor Romilda Zarb, a longtime party functionary.

Another name being considered is that of surgeon Etienne-Jo Abela, who will be contesting with Labour for the first time.

“Robert Abela is clearly sending out the message that he wants a renewal of his parliamentary group in the next election and each of the four co-options so far have kept this in mind. The names he is considering now point in that same direction,” the sources said.

Andy Ellul twice missed out on a parliamentary seat in this legislature – the first when he narrowly lost a casual election on the Fourth District and the second when he was overlooked for a co-option to replace Etienne Grech from the same district.

The decision who to co-opt will be made in the coming days so that the candidate can be sworn in as an MP when parliament resumes on 10 January after the Christmas recess.