Cardona and Zrinzo Azzopardi vying for Labour deputy leadership

Former deputy leader Toni Abela and justice minister Owen Bonnici still undecided on whether to contest for the post vacated by Konrad Mizzi

Chris Cardona (left) and Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi will most probably face each other in the deputy leadership contest
Chris Cardona (left) and Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi will most probably face each other in the deputy leadership contest

Minister Chris Cardona and Grand Harbour Regeneration Corporation chairman Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi appear to be the two main contenders for the vacant post of Labour Party deputy leader following the departure of Konrad Mizzi from the post.

MaltaToday is informed that Cardona told Prime Minister Joseph Muscat he intends to run a professional campaign to win the position, holding regular meetings with party delegates.  

Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi on the other hand is depending on the backing of delegates who were allied to former planning parliamentary secretary Michael Falzon. Apart from his close friendship with Falzon, Zrinzo Azzopardi – who was party president for five years before the 2013 election –  is also a close collaborator of Labour CEO Gino Cauchi.

Toni Abela, who resigned the post after being nominated for the post of auditor in the European Court of Auditors and reneged on the post, is keeping his options open and this may also include considering to be co-opted to parliament if Leo Brincat is confirmed as Malta’s representative on the court of auditors.

If Leo Brincat is successfully appointed auditor, a casual election will be held 10 days after he vacates his ninth district seat.

Candidates must achieve 50% of the quota established in the election.

In the remote eventuality that nobody reaches the quota or nobody submits a nomination, then Labour will co-opt somebody to fill in Brincat’s seat.

Tourism minister Edward Zammit Lewis and justice minister Owen Bonnici were also being touted for the post. But while the former is biding his time, Bonnici has declared that he is undecided about throwing his name into the hat.

Though it is still too early to predict who could be the winner if Cardona and Zrinzo Azzopardi face each other in an election, the odds favour Cardona, who has increasingly shown his ability to raise the adrenaline in an auditorium packed with Labour delegates.

In a highly-charged speech at the recent party conference during which Mizzi was crowned deputy leader, Cardona infamously said “if you hit us with the sword we will hit you back with an axe.”

Cardona started his career as a One journalist and later took up law.  He garnered 3,876 first count votes in the last election and was tasked to head the economy ministry. Cardona can lay claim to a number of investments which have been recently announced, including a €55 million investment at the Mediterranean Maritime Hub. 

Nominations for the post of deputy leader must be submitted between Monday 9 May and Tuesday 10 May, with the election being held a month later.

The first phase will take place between 9 and 10 June, with the possibility of a run-off one day later if nobody is elected in the first round.