Old guard moves aside but several MPs elected in 1987 still in House
Leo Brincat’s departure from the Cabinet of Ministers to take up a post in the European Court of Auditors is another of Joseph Muscat’s moves to rejuvenate his team, but the Labour Party still has more MPs who were elected in 1987 than the PN.
When Joseph Muscat was elected to government in 2013, one harsh criticism that was levelled at him was his inclusion of ministers who had served under his predecessors Dom Mintoff, Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici and Alfred Sant.
But most of these MPs have either moved on to new roles or will not seek reelection.
The first to ‘fall’ was Marie Louise Coleiro Preca, who was appointed Family Minister by Joseph Muscat in 2013 but later gave up her parliamentary seat to become President of the Republic. Mrs Coleiro Preca’s seat was filled by former Justice Minister Charles Mangion. Although she was elected to Parliament for the first time in 1998, Mrs Coleiro Preca had served as MLP Secretary General from 1982 to 1991.
Also in 2014, Tourism Minister Karmenu Vella became EU Environment Commissioner. Mr Vella was first elected in the 1976 general election and became minister for the first time in 1981, when he was given the Public Works portfolio. His former ministry was taken over by Edward Zammit Lewis. The vacant parliamentary seat was taken by Joseph Farrugia ‘il-Farell.’
Another Mintoff-era MP, Leo Brincat, recently gave up his seat in Parliament to serve on the European Court of Auditors. Mr Brincat was elected to parliament for the first time in 1982, becoming Parliamentary Secretary in
1986. He had also served as minister under the Alfred Sant government in 1996. His parliamentary seat was taken over by young MP Clifton Grima, while the environment portfolio was passed onto Jose Herrera.
There are only two Labour MP’s left from the early 1980s – Birkirkara firebrand MP Joe Debono Grech and Foreign Affairs Minister George Vella – both of whom have declared that they will not be contesting the next election.
During the course of this legislature Labour also lost Marlene Farrugia, who is now an independent MP and who went on to found the Democratic Party. Her partner, government whip Godfrey Farrugia, confirmed with this paper that he will be contesting on the PL ticket.
It is unclear whether Deputy PM Louis Grech will be contesting the next election but sources say this is unlikely.
Apart from Vella and Debono Grech, the longest serving Labour MPs are Joe Mizzi, Charles Buhagiar and Anton Refalo, who were first elected in the 1987 election. Evarist Bartolo and Michael Farrugia were elected for the first time in 1992. All five served in cabinet roles before the current legislature and all are expected to be on the PL ticket in 2018.
The rest of Labour MPs are politicians whose names have featured in Parliament from the 1990s onwards or MPs who are relatively new to politics, like Manuel Mallia, Deborah Schembri, Edward Scicluna and Konrad Mizzi.
The PN line up has also changed during the past three years, but less significantly. Former PM Lawrence Gonzi retired from politics shortly after the last election, his seat being taken by Antoine Borg.
Cardiologist Albert Fenech resigned in April of this year. His seat was filled by Karl Gouder. Former Gozo Minister Giovanna Debono resigned from the PN amid the works-for-votes scandal and stayed on as an independent MP. She will not be contesting the next election.
Former Health Minister Joe Cassar resigned after he was embroiled in the Gaffarena scandal and was replaced in Parliament by former MP and Parliamentary Secretary Tony Abela. MP Charlo Bonnici has announced he will not be contesting the next election.
Apart from these changes, the PN line-up remains pretty much the same. More significantly, the PN will be fielding no less than 11 former ministers, parliamentary secretaries and parliamentary assistants in the next election: Mario de Marco, Jason Azzopardi, Beppe Fenech Adami, Tonio Fenech, Mario Galea, Censu Galea, Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici, Clyde Puli, George Pullicino, Chris Said and Francis Zammit Dimech.
Two of these MPs, Censu Galea and Francis Zammit Dimech, have served in a number of cabinets ever since they were first elected in 1987.