The Labour administration is expecting internal resistance to an exercise aimed at changing the party's 60-year-old emblem but Joseph Muscat said yesterday he was confident members would make the project theirs.

The party is asking people to submit designs for consideration by a panel of experts who will draw up a short list from which the party's membership base would then be asked to choose.

Sources said the final selection process could possibly be conducted via SMS.

As dictated by the party statute, the new emblem would retain the torch, the Maltese flag in the background and the party name, which was officially changed to Partit Laburista from Malta Labour Party in November 2008.

This would be the Labour Party's fourth emblem in its 90-year existence.

When launching the exercise, Dr Muscat said the new design should represent an evolution to reflect the way the party was changing. "If we do not change internally we cannot aspire to be the movers of change in society," Dr Muscat said, acknowledging there may be some in the party who would resist such a move out of nostalgia and emotion.

The emblem had to represent the party's values, he added, in the same spirit as described by former Labour leader and Prime Minister Sir Paul Boffa, who described the torch as a symbol of progress, love and a guiding light.

The eventual selection of the emblem by party members would be the first such exercise, Dr Muscat said, announcing that next year a convention would be held whereby all members would meet to discuss and approve the guiding principles on which the party will contest the next general election.

Labour chief executive James Piscopo, who is heading the project, described the exercise as a historic moment that will coincide with the party's 90th anniversary.

"This is a difficult decision and very emotional but we have to persuade people about our motivations and the reasons for changing the emblem. The change will strengthen not weaken the values represented by the torch," Mr Piscopo said.

The new emblem, he added, must be "positive, clean, easily understood and one that transcends time".

Interestingly, the yellow circle in the current emblem, which was retained from its preceding specimen proposed by Sir Paul Boffa in 1933, originally represented the Roman Catholic religion.

The present emblem first appeared in 1951, soon after Dom Mintoff took charge of the party after forcing the 1949 split.

A full briefing session for those interested in submitting designs will be held on June 1. The submissions must be made not later than June 30 and the final design will be selected by the end of this year.

The winning design will be awarded €1,000.

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