Bernard Grech’s nominees for president include Caritas PR officer and magistrate

PN leader Bernard Grech informs his parliamentary group that he will be putting forward the names of Marica Mizzi, Joe Mifsud and Dolores Cristina to succeed George Vella • MPs irked by Grech’s fait accompli

The Nationalist Party will be putting forward the names of former PN minister Dolores Cristina, Caritas’ PR and fundraising officer Marica Cassar and serving magistrate Joe Mifsud as the party’s nominees for a successor to President George Vella, MaltaToday is informed. 

PN leader Bernard Grech informed his parliamentary group last Thursday that he will be presenting the three names to Prime Minister Robert Abela when discussions on Vella’s successor get underway. 

This will be the first time that a president will be chosen by two-thirds parliamentary majority after the Constitution was changed a few years ago. 

But sources speaking to MaltaToday on condition of anonymity said most of the 20 or so MPs present for Thursday’s meeting were caught by surprise by Grech’s statement. 

"Bernard Grech presented his choice of the three individuals as a fait accompli and not up for discussion,” one source said. 

At least two of the nominees raised eyebrows among MPs present in the meeting. Cassar has no political experience and Mifsud, apart from being a sitting member of the judiciary, was involved with the Labour Party in the past. 

To cries of “you treat us only as a rubberstamp”, Grech refused to discuss the choice of nominees, insisting a decision had been made and that Cassar, Cristina and Mifsud would be the PN’s nominees. 

Vella’s term ends in April next year. 

Marica Cassar 

Marica Cassar was born in 1969 and is married to Joe Cassar, editor at Communication, the PN’s media arm. She is an actress and TV presenter and is the PR and fundraising officer at Caritas, a Church organisation involved in several social projects.  

She previously served as communications co-ordinator within the Office of the President during George Abela's time. 

In January 2022, Cassar was awarded €14,000 in severance pay by the Appeals Court which reversed a judgment handed down by the First Court of the Civil Court in a case Cassar had instituted, after finding out, in April 2014 that her contract as communications coordinator in the President’s Office would be terminated due to the change of presidency. 

Dolores Cristina 

Dolores Cristina was born in Senglea in 1949 and is a former politician who served in a number of ministerial positions under different Nationalist governments. 

Cristina became mayor of Swieqi in 1996 before being elected to arliament on the 10th District in the September 1998 general election. She was then re-elected to parliament from the 9th District in the April 2003 general election.  

Cristina became parliamentary secretary within the social policy ministry and was later appointed family minister in a Cabinet reshuffle on 23 March 2004. 

After the PN’s victory in the March 2008 general election, Cristina was appointed education minister. 

She served as acting president on several occasions during the Labour administrations between 2013 and 2022. 

Joe Mifsud 

Magistrate Joe Mifsud was born in Mosta in 1968. In 2006 he graduated as Doctor of Laws with a dissertation on Palestinian refugees and was called to the Bar in January 2007. 

He was a founding member of the National Youth Council, and from 1992 Secretary General of the said Council. 

Mifsud led the Labour Party’s youth wing in the 1990s and was a prominent investigative journalist with the party’s media. He also held the post of PL international secretary for several years. 

Prior to his appointment to the judiciary, Mifsud was a litigation lawyer specialising in criminal law, media law and refugee law. In 2012 he was appointed Commissioner for Justice - serving mainly in the San Gwann Local Tribunal - and Chairman of the Anti-Doping Appeals Board. 

Mifsud was appointed chairman of The Local Governance Board and Chairman of the Refugee Appeals Board In 2013. In 2014 he was also appointed as Umpire presiding over the Social Security Appeals Board.  

Mifsud was appointed a magistrate on 5 June 2015. 

Whereas the Constitution bars the Chief Justice and sitting judges on the Superior Court from being nominated to serve as president of the Republic, no such stumbling block exists for magistrates.