Parliament unanimously approves Coleiro Preca’s nomination

Marie Louise Coleiro Preca unanimously approves as President of the Republic by Parliament

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat this evening thanked the opposition for backing Marie Louise Coleiro Preca’s nomination as President, describing it as “a historic moment.”

“I believe that Marie Louise’s nomination sends a strong message of change to the country,” he said, pointing out that “it is time for the country to exit the political gridlock.”

He said her appointment would “shatter a glass ceiling” not only because she is a woman but also because of her commitment and courage she showed throughout her political and personal life.

Underlining his belief that Coleiro Preca would become a role model for young women, Muscat praised her courage to “marry after becoming a mother.”

“This will be a presidency with an purpose, a presidency that will provide parliament, government and the people with moral guidance.”

Admitting that during his time in Parliament and in government Coleiro Preca did not always agree with him, Muscat said that he was sure she would stand up for her beliefs and bring to government’s attention “inconvenient truths.”

Insisting that  her democratic credentials were superior to anything else, Muscat said “We have lost a pillar. The government has lost one of its best ministers and the Labour Party has lost a vote magnet…however the country has gained, what I would dare say, one of the best Presidents the country ever had.”

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil said he had no doubts that Marie Louise Coleiro Preca would stand to the occasion and ensure that the “presidency will belong to all of us, not to one part of the country or the other.”

“I have faith that Coleiro Preca will fulfil these expectations,” Busuttil said, stressing the opposition’s “pride” and sincerity in supporting her nomination.

However, after reiterating that the opposition was acting in a mature and supporting Coleiro Preca’s nomination, Busuttil said that he was disappointed by Muscat’s failure to properly consult the opposition.

He called on the government to follow suit and “seek the opposition consensus instead of taking it for granted.”

On Muscat’s intentions to enhance the presidency’s powers, Busuttil said that the prime minister did not have such powers and such a reform could only happen through a Constitutional change which would need Parliament’s approval.

“Every change in the President’s role, and we are not against such changes, could only happen through Constitutional reform,” he said.

Earlier, while tabling the motion in appreciation of the outgoing President, the prime minister thanked George Abela for his commitment and efforts.

In a veiled reference to Abela’s refusal to sign the civil unions bill, Muscat said “George Abela took all his decisions in the country’s best interest.”

On his part, PN leader Simon Busuttil said that Abela’s nomination in 2009 proved to be a “successful experiment.”

Listing Abela’s qualities, including his love for sport, his humour and and his “joie de vivre,” Busuttil joined Muscat in thanking the outgoing President.