Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne will today announce that he will be contesting for the soon to be vacant post of Labour Party leader, The Malta Independent can confirm.
Fearne has long been touted as one of the front-runners for the post that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat will be vacating in just over a month’s time, and with nominations for the leadership position of the party opening next Monday it is now clear that Fearne intends to stand for the role.
He is yet to make any official announcements, but is expected to do so later today.
Transport Minister Ian Borg and government backbencher Robert Abela are also expected to stand for the post, with both publishing perhaps their most indicative signals yet on social media in the past hours. Labour MEP Miriam Dalli had also been touted as one of the potential contenders for the post, but she said yesterday that after due consideration she had decided not to contest for the role.
Borg wrote on Facebook on Friday morning stating that he will be meeting with families who in the last weeks had encouraged him and his family to “continue leading our party forward, for the good of our country” on Friday night, and said that he would continue to work to make sure that no “negative interests” get in the way of “our unity and success”.
“In the coming days the Labour Party will take important decisions. Your huge support is what gives me courage. Nothing is going to stop me from doing all that is possible, so that together we can continue succeeding”, he wrote while supplementing the post with the hashtags #immexxu and #appoġġ.
Abela meanwhile posted on his own Facebook page on Friday morning as well, saying that change must start by accepting that the current situation of the country is not “business as usual”, noting that quick, effective, but cautious changes must be made so that tranquility and unity can come back to the country.
He said that “with humility” he is ready to offer the little that he knew to be part of this change so that Malta can return to being the “jewel that it once was in the shortest time possible”.
Abela is the son of former President George Abela, who himself lost the last Labour Party leadership election, that time to Joseph Muscat.
The election for the new Labour leader will be finalised on 12 January, but nominations open next Monday and close two days afterwards.
If there are more than two candidates for the post, the Labour Party’s delegates will vote to whittle the choice down to a shortlist of two candidates. The party’s members – the tesserati – will then vote for either of the two remaining candidates to elect the new leader.
If, meanwhile, there are only two candidates, the election will be in one phase involving the tesserati straight away. If the post is contested by only one candidate, however unlikely this may now seem, then that candidate will still need to face a confidence vote from the party delegates to confirm his or her position as party leader.