Busuttil is to replace Gonzi on 9th district
The Nationalist Party will field Simon Busuttil on the ninth district in the coming general election, replacing party leader Lawrence Gonzi who contested the politically-delicate district in 2008.
Party sources told The Sunday Times that apart from the 11th district, comprising Mosta, Balzan and Attard, the popular MEP will also be contesting the district comprising Swieqi, Madliena, San Ġwann and Msida – all areas considered to be Nationalist leaning but with a high percentage of disgruntled voters.
It is not yet known which additional district Dr Gonzi will contest, apart from Cottonera.
“Everyone knows Dr Busuttil’s popularity and the party decided to field him in a district which might prove to be crucial for the PN to win the next general election,” PN sources said.
Internal polls indicate that one of the main problems the party is facing is getting core voters to go to the polls. A new face with potential might be more appealing to voters in these areas, the sources said.
When contacted, Dr Busuttil said he did not wish to comment at this stage and will make an announcement at the opportune time.
Speculation was rife recently as to where the sitting Nationalist MEP, who in the 2009 European election polled a record 70,000 first-preference votes, was going to contest.
Dr Busuttil announced he would stand in the coming election in an interview with The Sunday Times two weeks ago.
The 43-year-old lawyer, who last week was voted as MEP of the Year in the health sector following a secret ballot among MEPs in Brussels, will have to relinquish his seat in the European Parliament if elected.
The other Nationalist MEP, David Casa, will also be contesting the general election on the fifth district, which in 2008 elected Franco Debono and Ninu Zammit. Dr Debono has been barred from contesting by the PN executive while Mr Zammit – a seasoned politician who occupied also various ministerial posts – will be retiring from politics.