Jean Claude Micallef starts ahead in race for Helena Dalli’s seat

Micallef starts as a favourite because when he was eliminated from the 2017 election race on the 25th count, Dalli inherited 266 votes from him

Jean Claude Micallef joined the Labour movement after falling out with the PN following the 2013 election
Jean Claude Micallef joined the Labour movement after falling out with the PN following the 2013 election

Former PN executive member Jean Claude Micallef starts off as favourite to take Helena Dalli’s (bottom, pictured) parliamentary seat when she resigns.

Micallef, who fell out with the PN after the 2013 election, joined Joseph Muscat’s Labour Party movement and eventually contested the 2017 election on the third district.

Dalli’s resignation from parliament in a couple of months’ time to become Malta’s next European commissioner will trigger a casual election on District 3.

The Labour Party has six unelected candidates on the third district, who could potentially contest the casual election.

Micallef, a former TV host, starts as favourite because when he was eliminated from the election race on count 25, Dalli inherited 266 votes from him.

This means that Micallef will definitely have 266 votes to his name when Dalli’s votes are opened for distribution.

Micallef’s closest challenger is likely to be Marsaskala mayor Mario Calleja, a former police officer.

Helena Dalli's resignation from parliament in a few months' time will trigger a casual election on District 3
Helena Dalli's resignation from parliament in a few months' time will trigger a casual election on District 3

Calleja will definitely have 97 votes to his name, which are the votes Dalli inherited from him when he dropped from the race on Count 19.

To get elected in a casual election, a candidate must obtain half the district quota, which in this case would amount to 1,947 votes.

Micallef’s advantage is further strengthened by the fact that on the first count he obtained more votes than Calleja.

Although the first count vote is completely irrelevant to the outcome of a casual election because all candidates start with zero votes, it is an indication of popularity. Calleja received 460 votes on the first count as opposed to Micallef’s 670 votes.

Micallef would hope that his popularity over Calleja would have retained its strength in subsequent preferences awarded by voters.

Marsaskala Mayor Mario Calleja enjoys the advantage of being on top of the list because of his surname
Marsaskala Mayor Mario Calleja enjoys the advantage of being on top of the list because of his surname

However, a phenomenon that cannot be ignored is Calleja’s surname advantage on a ballot sheet where candidates are listed in alphabetical order.

Calleja is sure to benefit from what is popularly referred to as donkey voting, where voters just award preferences from the top of the list to the bottom after having given their first few preferences.

The other Labour candidates who could contest the casual election are Edric Micallef, Marion Mizzi, Sebastian Muscat and Kenneth Spiteri.

Dalli immediately stepped down as minister last week when Muscat made public her Brussels nomination. However, she retained her parliamentary seat until formal confirmation as commissioner in October.

Pretenders to Dalli’s seat

Names are in alphabetical order as they appeared on the ballot sheet. The votes are the amounts that Dalli inherited from each candidate when they were eliminated. Each of the candidates will start with these votes to their name in the casual election.

Casual election quota: 1,947

Mario Calleja: 97 votes

Edric Micallef: 37 votes

Jean Claude Micallef: 266 votes

Marion Mizzi: 5 votes

Sebastian Muscat: 4 votes

Kenneth Spiteri: 9 votes

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