Close to 20% of MPs elected in Joseph Muscat’s second administration in 2017 are no longer in parliament, an analysis carried out by The Shift has revealed.
Seven out of the 37 seats obtained by Labour in the 2017 election (19%) were held by MPs who are no longer in parliament, including former prime minister Joseph Muscat, former EU affairs minister Helena Dalli, and former economy minister Chris Cardona, among others.
An additional 11% of Labour’s 2017 parliamentary group failed to retain positions assigned in Cabinet, one of whom failed to do so twice. The disgraced ministers in this category include former education minister Justyne Caruana, former parliamentary secretary for equality Rosianne Cutajar and former energy minister Konrad Mizzi.
38% of Labour’s MPs from that parliamentary group have faced at least one reshuffle each, with just 22% of the group of MPs which made it to parliament during the last election more or less retaining their portfolios as they were when they were elected in that year.
While Labour’s voter majority had awarded the Party 37 seats, Malta’s constitutional laws enforce proportional representation mechanisms in parliament, meaning that two seats were added to the PN’s original 28, bringing the overall balance to 37 to 30 in 2017. As of today, there are 36 Labour MPs and 30 Nationalist MPs in parliament.
You can click the colour-coded annotations at the top of the chart below for more information on each category.
The table below lists all the 37 MPs being referred to in the chart above.
A disgraceful exit
Muscat stepped down from the position of prime minister in January 2020, together with his chief of staff Keith Schembri who also resigned under pressure due to growing public outrage in November 2019. Meanwhile, findings of corruption in deals by his administration, particularly the Electrogas deal and the hospitals deal, continue to emerge. Schembri and Mizzi were recently banned from travelling to the US.
In particular, the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia and the revelations unearthed by Caruana Galizia herself and other journalists who picked up where she left off, along with mounting public pressure throughout various sittings of the public inquiry into her assassination, spelt the end of Muscat’s reign.
Former economy minister and deputy leader of the Labour party Chris Cardona, who has denied allegations of involvement with a botched bank robbery in 2010 as well as further allegations of his involvement in a plot to murder Caruana Galizia, resigned in April 2020.
Meanwhile, former EU affairs minister Helena Dalli and former home affairs minister Manuel Mallia were both kicked upstairs, with one now serving as the EU commissioner for equality and the other serving as Malta’s British High Commissioner. Former backbencher MP Silvio Grixti resigned from parliament following news reports which stated that he was being investigated by the police, reportedly over medical sick notes.
Labour MP Ian Castaldi Paris had one of the shortest careers parliament has ever seen – while he was not elected along with Labour’s 2017 parliamentary group, Castaldi Paris was co-opted to parliament on 13 May of last year and has been forced to publicly state he will not be contesting the upcoming general election following news reports exposing at least €300,000 in taxes and fines that Castaldi Paris had not paid for.
Three Labour MPs have been stripped of their portfolios and sent back to the backbenchers’ trenches since 2017, with the most recent case being former education minister Justyne Caruana.
Caruana has resigned from her post as a member of Abela’s Cabinet (a second time) and has also publicly stated that she is not planning on contesting the upcoming election following revelations about her decision to award a €15,000 contract to her partner, Daniel Bogdanovic. She remains an MP.
Former parliamentary secretary for equality Rosianne Cutajar, was forced to resign from her role as parliamentary secretary in February following the standards commissioner’s report which determined she had breached her ethical obligations as an MP due to her role as a broker in a multi-million euro property deal involving Caruana Galizia murder suspect Yorgen Fenech.
Silvio Parnis was pushed out from one parliamentary secretary posting to another during Abela’s first Cabinet reshuffle. Parnis, whose last role as parliamentary secretary was to oversee matters related to the elderly, was left out during a reshuffle last November following the government’s questionable handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in elderly homes towards the end of last year.
Four Labour MPs have faced more than one reshuffle since 2017. Current equality minister Owen Bonnici has had various portfolios assigned to him following his beleaguered stint as justice minister, during which a constitutional court had found him guilty of breaching protesters’ human rights.
Since then, Bonnici was moved to the education and employment ministry on Abela’s orders, only to then be reshuffled again until the present day. Now, Bonnici occupies the role of minister for equality, research and innovation.
Julia Farrugia Portelli, now minister of inclusion and social wellbeing, has also occupied the positions of parliamentary secretary for reforms and minister for tourism. Minister for senior citizens and active ageing Michael Farrugia was originally appointed home affairs minister in 2017 before serving a brief stint as minister for energy and water management.