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