Voting has closed in the Labour Party leadership election, and now the waiting starts until the result is known.
More than 17,500 Labour members were eligible to vote in the election.
The provisional final turnout was 92.5%.
There were 17,531 registered voters, out of which 16,217 cast their vote.
The turnout as at 2pm was 58%.
— Joseph Muscat (@JosephMuscat_JM) January 11, 2020
All the ballot boxes have arrived and have started to be opened.
The reconciliation process has also begun to check that the number of votes in the boxes tally with the records kept by the electoral assistants in every polling booth.
Electoral Commissioner Dean Hili told The Malta Independent that the final result is expected at around 1am or 2am.
Hili said that the party commission will give the final result.
Voting started at 8am and finished 12 hours later in 13 voting stations representing the 13 electoral districts, including one in Gozo.
Sources within the party told this newsroom that preliminary samples suggest Robert Abela might just make it. The samples are not conclusive and the leadership race could still go either way.
Also supporters of Abela are already congratulating him on Facebook.
Sources told The Malta Independent that the older members of the party were keener to vote, as the younger generation was alienated by the recent happenings in the party which led to the resignation of Joseph Muscat.
Two men are vying for his post, deputy leader Chris Fearne and MP Robert Abela. They – like the rest of Malta – are eagerly awaiting the outcome to see who of them will be the next leader of the PL and the next Prime Minister, given that the PL is in government.
Both Fearne and Abela posted their messages on their respective Facebook page once the voting has closed.
Both Fearne and Abela voted early, with caretaker PM Muscat voting in Burmarrad just after 10am.
The ballot boxes are now being transported to the Labour headquarters in Hamrun and, once all arrive, the counting process starts. The sorting will start immediately but the counting process will only begin when the box from Gozo arrives, presumably last.
It is expected that the result will be known after midnight, possibly between 1 and 2am.
The Malta Independent will be keeping its readers updated with what is happening.
Photos/videos; Alenka Falzon