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Malta could have its first women MEPs

Roberta Metsola, left, and Marlene Mizzi.

Roberta Metsola, left, and Marlene Mizzi.

Malta could finally have its first women MEPs next year thanks to the decisions of Nationalist MEP Simon Busuttil and Labour MEP Edward Scicluna to enter the local fray.

In the very likely event that Dr Busuttil gets a seat in Malta’s Parliament, Roberta Metsola Tedesco Tricca is next in line and stands most to gain from a casual election.

Meanwhile, business-lobbyist Vince Farrugia is tipped to replace PN’s other MEP, David Casa, who was yesterday also confirmed, together with Dr Busuttil, as a PN general election candidate. 

PN’s executive President Marthese Portelli is the third contender in line, giving rise to the possibility that Malta would get two women MEPs in one go, depending on the way the votes are inherited. (Dr Portelli was yesterday also announced as a PN general election candidate for the ninth district.)

From Labour’s point of view, the election of Prof. Scicluna would likely result in Marlene Mizzi gaining a seat. The businesswoman placed seventh in the polls – the best-scoring woman in 2009. 

But since Dr Busuttil had earned an impressive 70,000 votes, the likeliest candidate remains Dr Metsola,  who has recently shortened her mouthful of a surname.

She had earned almost 6,000 votes, but inherited most of Dr Busuttil’s surplus votes, after Mr Casa.

Dr Busuttil and Mr Casa would have to vacate their MEP seats if elected to Malta’s Parliament, triggering a casual election.

After the PN candidates who contested the 2009 election register their interest, the votes making up their quotas would then be opened and distributed to the candidates according to voters’ preferences.

Sources who analysed the voting preferences of the 2009 election data said there was an almost “mathematical certainty” that Dr Metsola would finally be given her seat in the European Parliament. 

This would put an end to the current situation where Malta is the only EU member state with an all-male group of MEPs.

Contacted yesterday for her reaction, Dr Metsola said she had followed the news of Dr Busuttil’s candidature and was pleased that the PN would have his help at the next election.

“If I were in Malta and my family circumstances were different, I would do the same,” she said.

Dr Metsola is lawyer specialised in EU law who works in Brussels on a secondment by the Government as a legal advisor to the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton.

She said it was “too early” to comment on her chances since Dr Busuttil’s seat was not yet vacant.

“If and when the seat will become vacant, I will take that decision,” she said.

Asked how she felt about the fact that Malta could have its first woman MEP, she said: “I maintain what I used to say during the election... It is always healthy to have both genders represented on bodies, especially democratically-elected ones.”

“The will of the electorate is what it is. In 2009, the candidates elected were all men. Now we’ll just have to wait and see.”

Dr Metsola, who had first contested the MEP elections in 2004, would have been elected in 2009 had the PN not suffered such a resounding defeat, enabling Labour to elect a fourth out of six seats.

Mr Farrugia could not be contacted.

Meanwhile, it yesterday emerged that the candidatures of Dr Busuttil and Mr Casa have been strategically placed to counter the support of the two MPs who tested the PN during this legislature: Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando and Franco Debono.

Dr Busuttil will be contesting the 11th district – the stronghold of now independent Dr Pullicino Orlando, while Mr Casa will be contesting the fifth district, the stronghold of Dr Debono.

Mr Casa was yesterday appointed rapporteur on a report to set up a Quick Reaction Mechanism to tackle VAT fraud in the EU. The report will establish the European Parliament’s position on a Commission proposal presented last July.

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