Albert Buttigieg submits nomination in casual election on 10th district

The St Julian's mayor has announced he will be contesting the election for Robert Arrigo's vacant seat, in what is being seen as a snub to party leadership, which appeared to be seeking to co-opt deputy leader Alex Perici Calascione

St Julian's mayor Albert Buttigieg has submitted his nomination to contest a casual election on the 10th dsitrict, in a move that ends speculation the PN was considering co-opting deputy leader Alex Perici Calascione.

The seat was vacated following the death of long-serving MP Robert Arrigo.

Under election rules, Karl Gouder and Emma Portelli Bonnici - who, like Buttigieg, contested the March general election - can participate in the casual election on 28 October.

Buttigieg took to Facebook on Monday morning to announce he was submitting his nomination. He was doing this "out of respect to the democratic process and the residents of the 10th district", he said.

Last week, PN insiders were speculating that none of the candidates would apply for the casual election, leading to co-option, potentially clearing the way for Perici Calascione to be nominated to parliament.

PN leader Bernard Grech also met the three candidates in the running for the seat last week, as the party would not confirm it was considering co-opting the new deputy leader.

Arrigo’s baton could now easily go to the St Julian’s mayor, who was the last PN candidate to be eliminated from the electoral race, although everything depends on how votes are transferred.

Buttigieg was involved in a tiff with the party's leadership earlier this year when he claimed that his electoral bid was obstructed internally at the whims of a "fat cat" with business interests in St Julian's.

Buttigieg never mentioned the names of either the PN official or the 'fat cat' with an internal party ethics probe concluding that the party should offer potential whistleblowers greater protection to encourage them to substantiate their claims. It had also recommended the introduction of a revolving doors policy for its officials after former Bernard Grech aid, Ray Bezzina, joined the DB Group just after stepping down from his party role.

Bezzina had himself asked for the ethics probe following Buttigieg's claims since many understood that the PN official who conspired with the 'fat cat' was a reference to him. Bezzina had denied the claims.