In this first of a series, Times of Malta looks at each of the 13 electoral districts, examining who represented them in the outgoing legislature, the candidates running for office in the upcoming election, the budding politicians and the major issues at stake.
Often referred to as ‘Id-Distrett tal-Belt’ (the Valletta District), this section of the island is made up of the capital city, along with neighbouring Floriana, Ħamrun, Marsa, Pietà and Guardamanġia, and Santa Venera.
The first electoral district had traditionally been seen as a barometer for the way the entire general election would pan out.
Prior to 2013, winning the first district was taken by party agents in the counting hall as an early sign of which way the overall general election result was going.
This changed somewhat as the tide in the district moved closer to Labour.
In 2017, Labour secured 13,844 votes to take home 57 per cent of the district. The PN, on the other hand, claimed 10,094, making up 42 per cent of the vote.
Labour elected three candidates from this district in 2017.
The lead candidate for the PL was José Herrera, followed by Aaron Farrugia and Deo Debattista picking up the third seat.
As for the PN, Mario de Marco was the lead candidate elected, followed by Claudio Grech.
Sean Apap Meli
Joseph Matthew Attard
Keith Azzopardi Tanti
Davina Sammut Hili
Josianne Cardona Gatt
Mario de Marco
James Aaron Ellul
Paula Mifsud Bonnici
VOLT are not fielding any candidates in this district.
Tania Gauci Fiorini
What to look out for?
Looking at the candidates on the Labour ticket, the first district has incumbents in Farrugia, Herrera and Debattista. All three will be hoping to be returned to the house.
Meanwhile, the dark horse on Labour’s ticket here is Pietà Mayor Keith Azzopardi Tanti.
You may remember him as the candidate who invited former prime minister Joseph Muscat to endorse his campaign. Insiders say the young mayor polls very well and could even replace a sitting MP this election.
Also worth a mention is first-time candidate Galea.
A product of Labour’s candidate factory ‘Lead’, she is also being pushed by Labour and has appeared alongside the prime minister in press conferences in recent weeks.
On the Nationalist Party ticket, the first district has an obvious big name in de Marco who has been returned to the House in successive elections. Party sources say he polls very comfortably in this district.
Mifsud Bonnici is an established and familiar name for PN voters, having been elected between 2013 and 2017 and serving in party structures over the last legislature. PN insiders say she has been working the district hard, running a strong door-to-door campaign.
Grech’s announcement that he will be moving aside to let in some fresh faces may open the door for a couple of newcomers who are scrapping it out.
Micallef is a former mayor of the capital city. It is no surprise he polls strongly in Valletta where he is a member of the deep-blue Pawlini from the St Paul’s Street stretch of Valletta.
He has also been a regular fixture on Maltese TV, hosting various sports shows.
Carabott, a young lawyer who had spent a few years as a reporter on the PN’s Net News, is duking it out with Ellul, another Net News alumni who sits on the Floriana local council.
What are the main issues facing voters here?
According to surveys carried out by the main parties, voters in the first district have a particular set of concerns that change from one locality to the other.
In Valletta, the single largest concern for voters is parking.
Then, in Santa Venera, the lead concern is the state of the locality. In Pietà, parking again features as the lead concern but, in Marsa, this barely features on the priority list. Instead, voters in this inner harbour area are primarily concerned with the influx of foreigners and migrants.
Marsa hosts a migrant open centre, which has seen the migrant community spill out into the area, causing friction with district 1 voters over the past few years.
Voters here are also particularly keen on having more green open spaces and have concerns over overdevelopment.
Guardamanġia voters, meanwhile, are the most likely in this district to say they are not particularly concerned with anything.