Si­mon Busut­til will not con­test Gozo dis­trict, se­lects Marthese Portelli in­stead

Malta Independent - - FRONT PAGE -

Marthese Portelli will be re­turn­ing to her roots to con­test the com­ing elec­tion in the Gozo dis­trict, while keep­ing also a place on the ninth dis­trict which com­prises San Ġwann, Msida, Għargħur, Ta’ Xbiex and Swieqi, The Malta Independent has learnt.

Na­tion­al­ist Party leader Si­mon Busut­til will not throw in his hat in Gozo, as was spec­u­lated in other sec­tions of the me­dia, al­though a fi­nal de­ci­sion on which dis­tricts he will be con­test­ing will be taken closer to the elec­tion.

Dr Portelli, a Goz­i­tan, has been given one of the largest port­fo­lios in the shadow cabi­net drawn up by Dr Busut­til, tak­ing on en­ergy, trans­port and the en­vi­ron­ment, which are di­vided in three min­istries in PM Joseph Mus­cat’s Cabi­net. Her ef­forts in such vast and con­tro­ver­sial ar­eas have been well-re­ceived by the PN higher ech­e­lons, and her Goz­i­tan lin­eage is seen to be an ad­van­tage with the lo­cals.

Her can­di­dacy on the Gozo dis­trict will be in­for­mally an­nounced dur­ing a PN event in Gozo tomorrow.

Sources told The Malta Independent that dur­ing many house vis­its con­ducted by the Op­po­si­tion leader on the sis­ter is­land, Dr Portelli’s name cropped up too of­ten for the party to ig­nore.

The PN will be los­ing two MPs from Gozo in the next elec­tion, Gio­vanna De­bono, who will re­tire from pol­i­tics after be­ing elected ev­ery time since 1987, and Fred­er­ick Az­zopardi, who will also call it a day after 20 years in the House. Mrs De­bono is no longer rep­re­sent­ing the PN in Par­lia­ment after her res­ig­na­tion in the wake of ac­cu­sa­tions against her hus­band on mat­ters per­tain­ing to the time when Mrs De­bono was Gozo Min­is­ter.

Mrs De­bono’s de­par­ture from pol­i­tics left the PN with only one heavy­weight in Gozo, Chris Said, who ear­lier in this leg­is­la­ture re­signed from the post of sec­re­tary gen­eral to fo­cus on Gozo.

The PN sources said that the de­ci­sion to have Dr Portelli con­test in Gozo is send­ing a clear mes­sage to the vot­ers that the party gives great im­por­tance to the dis­trict, which the PN lost for the first time in the 2013 elec­tion, with Labour win­ning it 3-2.

An­other long-serv­ing PN can­di­date who is ex­pected to con­test in Gozo is for­mer Trans­port Min­is­ter Censu Galea, whose reg­u­lar pres­ence in Gozo has been noted and wel­comed by the Goz­i­tans. Mr Galea, who was elected for the first time in 1987, will be mak­ing way for his daugh­ter, Gra­ziella Galea on the 12th dis­trict. Gra­ziella Galea is the mayor of St Paul’s Bay.

In the last elec­tion, the fa­ther and daugh­ter had both con­tested on the 12th dis­trict, but only Mr Galea made it to Par­lia­ment.

Other can­di­dates who have al­ready been ap­proved by the PN for Gozo are Ryan Mer­cieca, Joseph At­tard, Kevin Cu­ta­jar, Joe El­lis and Maria Portelli.

"The party gives great im­por­tance to Gozo"

Marthese Portelli

Si­mon Busut­til

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