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Four vying for Borg’s seat

Potential Parliamentarians come forward

At least four Nationalist Party candidates are vying for the parliamentary seat vacated by Tonio Borg, who has been appointed European Commissioner.

Doctor Michael Asciak, architect Giorgio Schembri, and lawyers Martin Fenech and Josianne Cardona Gatt all confirmed their intention to throw their names in the hat for the casual election being held on Wednesday.

Lija mayor Ian Castaldi Paris said he had not made up his mind yet but was more inclined to put his personal ambitions aside for the time being to focus his efforts on his mayorship which expires in March.

Contacted yesterday, all contenders said they were aware that, with dissident PN backbencher Franco Debono’s threat to vote the Budget down on December 10, their parliamentary seat could last just five days – during which Parliament does not even convene.

But they all believe it is worth it and feel they owe it to those who voted for them in the 2008 general election, but still failed to make it to Parliament.

According to electoral law, the casual election must be contested by candidates on the last election’s ballot sheet when the person who vacated his seat was elected.

Dr Borg’s first-preference votes will be opened to see where his voters’ next preference went.

Dr Borg was elected on the eight electoral district which covers the largest town in Malta – Birkirkara. He received 3,780 first-count votes and was elected after Finance Minister Tonio Fenech, who notched up 5,509 votes.

Dr Asciak received 564 votes, followed by Dr Fenech with 399, Dr Castaldi Paris with 317 votes, Dr Cardona Gatt with 160 votes and Mr Schembri with 128 first-count votes.

Dr Asciak, who is the favourite to grab the seat, is a former MP. He said he would be willing to vacate his seat if MEP Simon Busuttil is elected as the party’s deputy leader in today’s election.

Dr Fenech and Dr Cardona Gatt both said they would be taking part in the casual election because they felt they owed it to their constituents.

“I owe an allegiance to the people who voted for me. I feel I have a duty to go for it,” Dr Fenech said.

Dr Cardona Gatt said: “It is certainly worth being there and giving the PN all the support it deserves.”

All, except Dr Fenech, have confirmed they intend contesting the upcoming general election too.

Candidates have until Monday at 1pm to submit their nomination.

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