No nominations have been submitted to fill the parliamentary seat vacated by former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, with MEP Miriam Dalli touted as a likely replacement.
Government sources told Times of Malta that Prime Minister Robert Abela has been in days-long talks with Dalli to capitalise on Muscat’s departure and strengthen Labour’s group.
Nominations to fill the parliamentary seat vacated by Muscat closed at noon on Monday with neither of those eligible - former parliamentary secretary Stefan Buontempo and Mark Causon - throwing their hat in the ring.
Buontempo said he had decided "to close the chapter on my political career" and devote more time to his family.
Also standing aside, Causon said: "After considerable thought due to personal reasons I shall not be submitting my nomination for the parliamentary seat..."
Times of Malta first reported that Dalli was being considered to replace Muscat last week. She has ignored requests for comment for several days.
On Saturday she said she would wait for the nominations to close before speaking out.
The Labour Party is now expected to inform the electoral commission that they wish to co-opt a new member into parliament.
Labour Party insiders said the move to co-opt a replacement for Muscat “makes strategic sense”.
“We have lost a lot of strong people over the past few months. The parliamentary group is not looking as strong as it used to, so this could be a unique opportunity,” a source said.
Dalli, who had been touted as a possible successor to the Muscat throne but who decided not to contest the leadership race, is understood to have discussed the matter with Abela in recent days.
The MEP, who leads Labour’s group in Brussels was the most successful candidate in the 2019 European Parliament election, garnering some 63,000 votes - more than double the tally for former prime minister Alfred Sant, and some 20,000 more than her political rival Roberta Metsola.
Dalli was described by Muscat during that race as “Malta’s best MEP”.
She had been supportive of Muscat during the tumultuous weeks of protests that eventually led to his resignation, adding her voice to the chorus of Labour personalities calling for him to stay on.
Sources said that if Dalli does make the move from Brussels back to Malta, then a Cabinet reshuffle could also be on the cards.
“If Miriam [Dalli] does come back to Malta she will most likely want to be in Cabinet. Which means we could have a reshuffle of ministers coming,” a source said.
She is expected to be replaced in Brussels by Cyrus Engerer.
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