Jean Claude Micallef and Mario Calleja could well be the two candidates who will go head-to-head to take up MP Helena Dalli’s seat in Parliament if she is approved by the European Parliament as Malta’s EU Commissioner.
Dalli was nominated by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat as Malta’s next EU Commissioner to replace Karmenu Vella on Wednesday. Having already resigned from her post as Minister for European Affairs and Equality, Dalli still remains an MP, and indeed she will have to pass through a grilling from the European Parliament. It is up to the European Parliament in fact to approve or reject her appointment as the country’s EU Commissioner.
If she is approved, it would naturally mean that she would have to vacate her seat in the Maltese Parliament. Dalli was elected in 2017 from both the second and the third districts, however eventually resigned her second district seat in favour of keeping that of the third district.
The fact that she will relinquish her seat means that a casual election will follow to establish who will fill the vacant chair in Parliament. That casual election will only be open to candidates who were on that district’s ballot sheet and who obviously were not elected.
Aside from Dalli; Chris Fearne, Carmelo Abela, and Silvio Grixti were elected from the third district on Labour’s side. Owen Bonnici, Etienne Grech, and Chris Agius were all candidates in this district, all failing to be elected; however they were elected elsewhere, meaning that they are not eligible for a casual election.
That leaves PBS presenter Jean Claude Micallef and Marsaskala mayor Mario Calleja as the two front-runners for the seat. Micallef received 670 first count votes while Calleja, on his part, received 460. Calleja was eventually eliminated from the race on the 19th count, while Micallef lasted up until the 25th count.
Contacted by this newsroom and asked whether he would be interested in the seat assuming that it does become vacant, Calleja said that it is something that interests him however noted that he must discuss the matter with his family before anything else. Attempts to contact Micallef to ask him the same question were unsuccessful.
Both men have been in the news in the past; Micallef recently lost a libel case to Manuel Delia while also ending up in hot water earlier this year after the Public Broadcasting Service – with whom Micallef is a presenter – disassociated itself from partisan comments that he had made online in support of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.
Calleja meanwhile – who was re-elected as mayor of Marsaskala last May – has spoken out on issues related to his locality, with his most prominent comments being related to the re-development of the derelict Jerma Hotel, when he said that he would agree with a development involving luxury apartments and a boutique hotel, while also noting that he was not averse to the idea of a high-rise building on the site as long as it did not obstruct the views of St. Thomas Tower.