Karl Gouder, who was yesterday selected by the Nationalist Party executive to succeed Michael Frendo on the government backbenches, said he hoped to add fuel the party's engine.

Mr Gouder, 30, will become the PN's youngest parliamentarian when he replaces Dr Frendo, who will shortly assume the role of Speaker.

He told The Sunday Times shortly after his selection: "It was totally unexpected; once the electoral process was over, I never expected to find myself in Parliament in this legislature. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

Mr Gouder obtained 31 votes from the executive of the Nationalist Party, Pippo Psaila got 19 votes and former MP Franco Galea four votes. All three were candidates on the 10th district from which Dr Frendo had been elected. Mr Gouder, assistant information director of the Nationalist Party, is currently deputy mayor of St Julian's and had contested the general election for the first time in March 2008.

He said yesterday: "I'm proud to form part of a party in renewal. My election confirms the 'new blood' that the Prime Minister spoke about before the election. I can offer new ideas, but we need to insist on continuation," though he would not be drawn on which sectors he would like to focus on.

Mr Gouder, who is a management graduate, thanked the party leadership, which he said was consistently accessible. He is the second new MP on the government benches this year. Peter Micallef was elected following the departure of John Dalli from Parliament.

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