Veteran Labour ministers Joe Mizzi and Chris Cardona out of Cabinet

Three members of Joseph Muscat’s Cabinet have been left out by Robert Abela

Chris Cardona (left), Joe Mizzi and Anthony Agius Decelis have been left out of Cabinet
Chris Cardona (left), Joe Mizzi and Anthony Agius Decelis have been left out of Cabinet

Joe Mizzi, Chris Cardona and Anthony Agius Decelis have been left out of the new Cabinet formed by Prime Minister Robert Abela.

Cardona is possibly the most significant omission given his role as Labour Party deputy leader.

Despite his age, Cardona is a party veteran, having been elected for the first time in parliament in 1996. His removal from Cabinet signals Abela’s resolve to stamp his authority on his administration.

Cardona’s previous economy ministry was handed to Silvio Schembri in an expanded ministry that also includes Air Malta.

During the leadership campaign, Abela had said that he expected his ministers to lead by example when asked on Xarabank whether he would accept a minister who visited a prostitute.

Given Cardona’s past controversy over allegations that he visited a brothel in Germany, Abela may have acted immediately to shut down controversy.

The move is likely to cause internal friction although with Abela already winning the hearts of the party rank and file, he is likely to overcome this hurdle.

Second District rumblings

The removal of Mizzi may have electoral ramifications in the Second District, a Labour stronghold, from where the MP has been elected since 1987.

Mizzi served as energy minister after the 2017 election and is the only one to have served as a minister in the Alfred Sant administration between 1996 and 1998.

The former minister was conspicuous by his absence over the past few weeks as Enemalta, the State energy company, grappled with frequent power cuts after fatal damage to the interconnector.

Mizzi’s energy portfolio has now been transferred to Michael Farrugia, who was moved sideways from home affairs, where he had an ineffectual performance.

It remains to be seen whether Mizzi will contest the next election but his side-lining may create space on the Second District for other MPs from the area, including Glenn Bedingfield, Chris Agius and others.

The third omission from Cabinet is Anthony Agius Decelis, who was elected on the Mosta district in the last election.

Agius Decelis, who was parliamentary secretary for the elderly in the outgoing Cabinet, has seen his portfolio taken up by Silvio Parnis, one of a few Cabinet members who openly supported Abela’s candidature.

It is unclear what the motivation to remove Agius Decelis is.

As expected, former minister Konrad Mizzi, who resigned from Cabinet last November in the wake of Yorgen Fenech’s arrest, was not re-appointed. Abela had declared as much during the leadership campaign and Mizzi has been kept out of Cabinet.