Malta’s Labour Party suffered a major defeat at the European Parliament as it lost its presence on the bureau of the Socialists and Democrats, the second most influential political grouping in the European chamber.
During an internal election among Socialist MEPs to elect a new Vice-President to fill the seat vacated by Miriam Dalli, who was representing Labour in the S&D Bureau, most MEPs voted out the Maltese representative indicated as the replacement for the post, Alex Agius Saliba.
Instead, the prestigious seat went to new Portuguese MEP Perdro Marquese, effectively ousting Malta from the Socialists’ governing bureau.
This comes as a blow to the Maltese delegation in the Socialist group. Normally, according to unwritten EP protocol, the seat vacated by Dalli would go to the same delegation – the Maltese members in this case – in order to maintain the equilibrium between member states within the bureau of the political group.
“For some reason this did not happen as the majority of Socialist MEPs preferred the Portuguese delegation over the Maltese. In political terms, this is not a good sign for Labour as it means that they have lost any influence they might have had on the agenda of the Socialists in the European Parliament,” EP sources told The Shift.
“They (Labour) have a reputational problem here as we are always hearing about corruption. This is a major problem, at least here,” as another source close to the S&D Group put it.
Both the Labour Party and Agius Saliba have remained silent on the matter.
Agius Saliba, elected MEP last year, is notorious for publicising his activities in Brussels, no matter how minimal, like becoming a member of an EP unofficial hunters’ lobby group.
Despite his young age, Aguis Saliba, 32, is currently the leader of Malta’s delegation in the Socialist group.
The other members are Gozitan Josianne Cutajar, former Labour Leader Alfred Sant and Cyrus Engerer, who was elected to replace Miriam Dalli, who is now Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Sustainable Development.