A bitter sweet day for the Fenech Adami family
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A bitter sweet day for the Fenech Adami family

Final farewell for Anton Tabone

Today's state opening of Parliament had deep personal significance for two veteran politicians.

For President Eddie Fenech Adami, today marks the last time he will ever enter the House of Representatives in an official capacity.

But it will be a bitter sweet occasion. As he leaves, he will 'hand the baton' to his son Beppe, for whom today marks the start of a parliamentary career.

Although he will not return to the House after today's ceremony, Dr Fenech Adami in his role as President will remain part of Parliament which, in terms of the Constitution, is composed of the President and a House of Representatives.

The President, among other functions, appoints the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition. He also recommends to the House consideration of financial legislation, such as the Budget. Importantly, no Bill can become law before the President signs his assent.

Dr Fenech Adami was co-opted to Parliament in 1969 following the death of Nationalist MP George Caruana. He was returned from every subsequent general election and became the most successful candidate in terms of first count votes. He resigned from the House in 2004 to become President. His term expires in a year's time.

Today's event also marks the final farewell for Anton Tabone, the outgoing Speaker.

He was also the ‘father of the House' having been the last of the MPs elected for the first time in 1966.

Mr Tabone was elected from Gozo in every subsequent election except for 1998, but even then, remained a member of the House after having been elected Speaker. He was successful in the general elections of 2003 and did not contest the last elections.

The longest serving members of the House are now the new Speaker, Louis Galea and Labour MPs Joe Debono Grech and Karmenu Vella, elected for the first time in 1976.

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