PL wins councils majority at 55%
Labour gains St Paul's Bay, Safi and Qala
UPDATED 5.50 p.m. - The Labour Party has won an overall majority of votes in the elections for half of the local councils, held yesterday.
The PL won 55% of first count votes and the PN won just over 42%. 2% went to Alternattiva.
The PL gained St Paul's Bay, Safi and Qala councils from the PN and saw percentage gains in all the councils where it previously held control.
NAIL BITER IN MOSTA
Meanwhile, Mosta, the most contested locality in this round of elections, appeared to be heading for the PN after 20-hours of vote-counting. Just 14 first count votes separating the two big parties at the first count with the PL ahead. The destination of the mayor's seat, however will be decided once the vote preferences are decided at the last count and the PNgained the bulk of preferneces when an AD candidate and an independent candidate were eliminated (see separate story).
In Sliema, the PN won 61% of the vote and has seven seats, with three for the Labour Party (27% of the vote) and one for Alternattiva (8%). Melody Morgan-Busher, who was backed by the Sliema Residents' Association, won 3% and failed to get elected.
The PN saw particularly steep losses in St Julian's and Swieqi, although it retained both councils.
Alternattiva Demokratika saw Michael Briguglio elected in Sliema and Ralph Cassar elected in Attard.
In gaining 55% of the first count vote, the PL made a gain of 5% from the votes cast in the same localities in the previous elections, but comparisons are difficult to make since some of the previous elections were held in parallel with the 2008 general election or, in Sliema's case, with the MEP elections in 2009. As a result, both parties actually lost votes from the previous round of elections, but while the PL's loss was about 800 votes, the PN's loss was over 11,000.
'A VOTE OF CONFIDENCE IN JOSEPH MUSCAT'
Labour's media executive Kurt Farrugia welcomed the result, pointing out that the 55% majority for Labour also included the traditionally Nationalist stronghold of Sliema, which was added to this round of local elections by the government which dissolved the former council.
He said the PL majority of 55% was a strong vote of confidence in the Labour Party and the leadership of Joseph Muscat. It was also a strong signal to the PN, which lost its majorities in St Paul's Bay, Safi and Qala, and also saw its votes drop significantly in localities such as St Julian's.
It was also significant that the PL, which offered a new team in Mosta and faced an intensive campaign from the PN, still achieved a marginal majority, Mr Farrugia said.