The first local council results on Wednesday did not produce much in terms of surprises, but there were a few points that will go down in the history books.
The Labour Party won control of the Valletta council for the first time.
And Carlos Zarb, 17, was elected on the locality of St Paul’s Bay - he is the youngest-ever councillor.
In Zebbuġ, an independent candidate, Steve Zammit Lupi was elected on the first count with almost 1,000 votes, just four weeks after the environmental campaigner declared himself a candidate. He appeared to have taken almost all of his votes from the PN.
The Labour Party retained its control of Żebbuġ and increased its share of the votes by five percentage points to 58.8 per cent.
PL retained all the councils in this first day of counting, adding Valletta and St Paul’s Bay to its tally.
It had hoped to gain control of Nadur, which it had missed by a whisker in the last elections. But the Nationalist Party recorded its best gains here – an increase of 8% in its support consolidated Edward Said, Chris Said’s brother, as mayor. The PN also enjoyed some success in Għajnsielem, where its support grew to 68 per cent from 52.7% in 2015.
Labour had also hoped to win tiny Fontana. It actually won a majority of votes there but missed out on a third seat, reportedly by four votes, when the preferences were counted.
The party had hoped to make significant gains in St Julian’s, but made a slight gain – from 34% last time to 35.7% now.
PL gains across the board
The counting process started after the MEP elections, which Labour won by 42,656 votes over the Nationalist Party.
Labour’s gains were practically across the board, including 4% in the PN stronghold of Balzan.
In Pembroke, despite widespread anger over the db project, Labour actually increased its share of the vote to 60 per cent from 54.7 per cent in 2013. In Ta’ Xbiex, its share of the vote rose from 60.3% to 62.5 per cent.
In St Paul’s Bay, Labour achieved a majority of 50.1 percent from 46.88 per cent when the election was last held there in 2015.
In Valletta, the PL raised its share of the vote to 53 per cent from 48.4% in 2013.
Some new mayors were elected even is the councils did not change colour. Of the 23 localities counted so far, Labour will have 11 new mayors.
In Żurrieq, long-serving mayor Ignatius Farrugia saw his post taken by Rita Grima, who got more 166 more votes than him, although both were elected on the first count.
In Iklin, possibly the council with the least vote movement in percentage terms, Nationalist candidate Dorian Sciberras will succeed long-serving Nationalist mayor Anthony Dalli, who this time stood for election in Lija.
Albert Buttigieg, formerly deputy mayor, will be the new mayor of St Julian’s, replacing Guido Dalli, having won more votes than him.
Similarly in Mellieħa, deputy mayor Dario Vella won more votes than mayor John Francis Buttigieg and replaces him.
In St Paul’s Bay, outgoing mayor Graziella Galea got more votes than any other Nationalist candidate so far, at 1,688, but since her party lost the vote there, she will be replaced by Alfred Grima.
The vote-counting continues on Thursday and Friday. Localities of particular interest to watch out for on Thursday are Birkirkara and Sliema.
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