More than two-thirds of the vote went Labour’s way in this stronghold of theirs at the last general election.
The outcome this time is expected to be similar and the biggest unknown is who is going to inherit the votes of PL heavyweights Konrad Mizzi and Silvio Parnis, who are not contesting.
They drew nearly 8,400 first count votes between them in 2017, from a district that includes Paola, Gudja, Santa Luċija, Tarxien and part of Fgura.
In that election, Labour secured 16,383 votes from the district, or 67.7 per cent of the total valid votes cast. PN claimed 7,528 votes, or 31.1 per cent. Small numbers of votes went to Alternattiva Demokratika and Moviment Patrijotti Maltin.
The Labour Party ended up electing five candidates from this district – with Chris Fearne leading the pack – to the PN’s two.
Second and third were Mizzi, the disgraced former energy minister who was expelled as a Labour MP in 2020, and Parnis, former parliamentary secretary for aging left out of cabinet in Robert Abela’s first reshuffle.
Byron Camilleri and Etienne Grech were also elected on this district, with the latter only making it to parliament through a casual election to fill the seat vacated by Fearne, who was elected on another district.
Grech won’t be contesting either in 2022, having resigned from parliament “for personal reasons” in 2020. He made way for the co-option of Clyde Caruana to parliament.
As for the PN, the two candidates elected in 2017 were heavyweights Jason Azzopardi and Carm Mifsud Bonnici.
Mifsud Bonnici got the PN’s second seat on this district thanks to a constitutional amendment designed to ensure that the number of MPs in parliament is proportional to the total share of votes a particular party receives.
What to look out for
The incumbents on the Labour ticket will be Fearne and Camilleri, the home affairs minister, as well as another major figure in Labour, Glenn Bedingfield, the government whip.
Labour has a number of new faces on this district, including former ONE journalist and newscaster Amanda Spiteri Grech, now a lawyer and mother-of-two, who is expected to make a good showing.
Another two MPs, who were co-opted to parliament during this legislature and will be contesting this district for the first time are Jonathan Attard and Oliver Scicluna, who is the former commissioner for the rights of persons with disability.
On the Nationalist Party ticket, the fourth district has big names in Azzopardi, who, this time around, will also be contesting the ninth district for the first time, and veteran MP Mifsud Bonnici, who has been returned to the house in successive elections.
Another PN candidate is Eurovision singer Julie Zahra, who is contesting her first election and is being pushed by the party machinery. She has featured in a number of debates on behalf of the party during this electoral campaign.
Mark Anthony Sammut, head of one of the PN’s internal bodies, also stands a good chance of attracting votes.
A missing candidate this time is Therese Comodini Cachia, who was on the verge of taking over the leadership of the party from Adrian Delia in 2020. She is stepping down from politics.
What are the main issues?
The most pressing concerns for the constituents of this district is the problem of parking, according to surveys. This is certainly so for residents of Paola and Fgura, the biggest two localities in this district.
The district’s residents are also concerned about the huge volume of traffic that flows through their localities at every hour of the day, which they see as causing traffic congestion, creating pollution and degrading the environment in their localities.
Gudja residents see the state of the roads in their locality as the most pressing issue while the state of the environment and noise pollution are the highest on the list of concerns for Santa Luċija residents. Tarxien residents are seriously concerned about the lack of parking.
Christian Paul Bonett
Amanda Spiteri Grech
Katya De Giovanni
Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici
Mary Doris Borg
Mark Anthony Sammut
Bernice Theresa Bonello
Brian Charles Decelis
VOLT are not fielding candidates in this district.