The outcome of Saturday’s MEP election is now in the bag, with Malta’s six elected MEPs packing their bags for Brussels and each party coming to terms with its respective performance at the polls.

But eagle-eyed political junkies have been left wondering how votes made their way from one candidate to the next, with the quirks of Malta’s transferable voting system playing a big part in the election’s final outcome.

Here are some key things we learnt from speaking to election insiders.

Metsola voters liked Cassola, but not as much as they liked other PN candidates

Roberta Metsola’s giant tally of almost 87,500 first-count votes, more than double the quota needed to get elected, meant that all other candidates on the ballot sheet were keen to feast on her 50,000 surplus votes.

Unsurprisingly, PN candidates won the lion’s share of Metsola’s votes, with over 40,000 of her votes remaining within the party with other candidates fighting for second place.

Some, like long-standing PN MEP David Casa, have turned it into an art, sneaking in to a sixth term with just 3,600 first-count votes, inheriting a staggering 23,000 from Metsola.

This means that Casa inherited almost as many votes from Metsola (23,000) as all other candidates on the ballot sheet combined (27,000).

This tally allowed Casa to nab PN’s third seat, behind Metsola and Peter Agius, whose 11,000 inherited second-count votes are likely to have included a fair chunk from Metsola’s surplus.

Another big winner from Metsola’s surplus was Arnold Cassola, who inherited 2,500 votes from her packet.

There was something for other independent candidates too, with Conrad Borg Manché inheriting almost 600 of Metsola’s inherited votes and James Ryder just under 300, a handful fewer than ADPD, and a hundred more than Norman Lowell.

In total, independent and third-party candidates inherited a little under one out of every 10 votes in Metsola’s surplus.

Metsola also holds some appeal among Labour voters, albeit to a lesser extent. Electoral Commission figures show that 516 of Metsola’s first-count votes went to Labour candidates.

This doesn’t mean that 516 Metsola voters gave their second preference to Labour. The way Malta’s voting system works means that when candidates are elected on first count, as Metsola was, their surplus votes are distributed proportionally among other candidates, according to how many of Metsola’s second preference votes they received.

This would mean that the true number of Metsola voters who continued on a Labour candidate could be as many as 897.

This also doesn’t include any traditional Labour voters who, for whatever reason, opted to give their first preference to Metsola and either not vote for any other candidate, or give it to a third-party or independent candidate.

Alex Agius Saliba voters stayed loyal to Labour

The absolute majority of Alex Agius Saliba’s 26,700 excess votes stayed within the party, moving to other Labour candidates.

A third of them, roughly 9,500, went to help Daniel Attard’s successful election bid, while Claudette Abela Baldacchino and Clint Azzopardi Flores received over 4,000 votes each.

A further 3,080 of Alex Agius Saliba’s votes headed to Thomas Bajada, helping him eventually clinch a seat.

Other parties and independent candidates had far less luck with Agius Saliba’s surplus votes.

PN received fewer than 100 of Agius Saliba’s votes, a handful fewer than both Arnold Cassola and Conrad Borg Manché. Norman Lowell fared marginally better, with 157.

Arnold Cassola’s voters stay with independents or shift to PN

Despite a strong performance, Arnold Cassola eventually fell out of the race on the 34th count, leaving almost 23,000 votes to be shared among the candidates still left in contention.

Many of Cassola’s voters are believed to have also supported other independent candidates, all of whom had already dropped out of the race by the time that Cassola was eliminated.

This meant that 13,000 of his votes were effectively lost, either because they would have gone to candidates who were already out of the race, or to others who had already been elected (such as Metsola or Agius Saliba).

In practice, PN ended up receiving the lion’s share of Cassola’s votes, with 4,200 votes going to Peter Agius and 3,400 to David Casa. This was exactly what both candidates needed to push them over the edge and hit the quota that saw them elected.

Only 2,000 of Cassola’s votes, on the other hand, fell to Labour candidates, fairly evenly divided between Thomas Bajada (871 votes), Claudette Abela Baldacchino (591 votes) and Daniel Attard (557 votes).

The biggest winner from Norman Lowell’s dropped votes was…Arnold Cassola.

In a strange twist, Cassola stood to gain most from Norman Lowell’s elimination after 30 rounds of the count, leaving 8,500 votes on the table.

Of these, Cassola received over 1,300, almost as many as all remaining Labour candidates combined (1,478) and more than the PN candidates who were still in the race (877).

The bulk of Lowell’s votes, almost 5,000 ended up not being transferred at all, either because they would have gone to a candidate who was already elected (either Metsola or Agius Saliba) or else to another independent candidate who was already out of the race.

Thomas Bajada pips Claudette Abela Baldacchino to the post

Newcomer Thomas Bajada and former MEP Claudette Abela Baldacchino spent much of the race locked in a dead heat, at time separated by as few as 31 votes.

The two spent much of the race swapping the lead. Abela Baldacchino pulled ahead when Maria Sara Vella Gafà dropped out of the race, receiving twice as many of her votes as Bajada did.

Bajada clung on for several other rounds of vote counting, until it was Steve Ellul’s turn to fall by the wayside, leaving 17,000 votes for the remaining contenders. It was then that

Bajada pulled ahead, taking almost 1,500 more of Ellul’s votes than Abela Baldacchino.


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