Anglu Farrugia, the former Labour deputy leader who has been occupying the post of parliamentary speaker for the past eight years, is eyeing another term, The Shift is informed.
Farrugia, 65, has been making it clear that he has no intention of retiring and would gladly accept another nomination to retain his post following the next elections due early next year, sources have told The Shift.
The Speaker did not reply to questions sent on whether he is seeking another five-year term. Instead, he quoted parliamentary procedure on how the Speaker is elected.
Those procedures are public and don’t need explaining by the Speaker. His reluctance to answer is important in the context where Anglu Farrugia is one of the few nominees who has occupied the role for two consecutive terms.
Only former Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi and former Gozo Minister Anton Tabone occupied the post for two terms. A third term would set a new record.
Since Malta’s independence, the Speaker was always been selected by the incumbent government. According to the Constitution, the election of the Speaker is made through a parliamentary motion approved by a simple majority. This means the Speaker is chosen by the prime minister and approved by the government’s parliamentary group.
His enthusiasm for a third term may explain the Speaker’s consistent defence of government MPs, including disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat, despite conclusions reached by independent institutions.
I scratch your back…
Farrugia has turned his office into a full time post, despite Malta’s parliament being part time with politicians only meeting in parliament for a few hours a week. He has taken a number of controversial decisions in recent months, signalling his propensity to please the ruling party.
His most glaring decisions, and the only ones where his vote can really make a difference, are connected to the Public Standards Committee where, through his intervention, little or no action has been taken against erring government MPs.
Farrugia used parliamentary procedure to either delay sanctions against sitting Labour MPs or stall the process altogether.
Farrugia also set a new travelling record, touring the world attending insignificant conferences at parliament’s expense. In less than two years since his first appointment, Farrugia had already gone on 41 overseas trips – the same amount as all the trips made by his three predecessors in the previous 10 years.
In 2016, Farrugia’s only daughter, Caroline Farrugia Frendo, was handpicked by Muscat and given a ‘job for life’ as a magistrate. This nomination was so controversial that her swearing-in had to wait for a few months as the Speaker’s daughter did not yet meet the criteria of a practising lawyer for seven years at the time of her nomination.
In 2017, after Labour’s second win at the polls, Farrugia once again accepted Muscat’s offer to take the Speaker’s job for another term.
Yet despite his efforts to support the party in government in decisions before him in recent months, it seems Castille is not too keen on the idea of a third term so far. Relations between Farrugia, the prime minister, and particularly his father – former President George Abela – were never on very good terms.