Konrad Mizzi is still the Labour Party’s frontrunner on the fourth electoral district despite his involvement in the Panama scandal, according to an internal survey conducted by other candidates on the district.
As the battle heats up for Labour’s three safe seats in its stronghold, the survey, seen by this newspaper, shows Dr Mizzi leading, with 39 per cent of the 500 respondents saying that they will vote for him.
He is followed by Chris Fearne at 31 per cent and, at 18 per cent, Silvio Parnis, the longest serving MP in the district.
Their closest rival is Etienne Grech, a family doctor and sitting MP, who with these results would only be elected on this district in the unlikely scenario that Labour repeats its 2013 result and returns a fourth seat.
Translated into votes, the survey shows that Dr Mizzi would end up with more than 5,500 first count votes – a substantial increase over his 2013 result – followed by Dr Fearne at 4,500 and Mr Parnis at 2,800.
“The survey shows that despite all the bad publicity due to his involvement in the Panama scandal and other things, Minister Mizzi is still very popular, as he is considered to be a hard worker in his electoral base,” a party delegate in the district said.
The survey shows that despite all the bad publicity due to his involvement in the Panama scandal and other things, Minister Mizzi is still very popular, as he is considered to be a hard worker in his electoral base
Asked to state the reason for preferring a particular candidate, respondents described Dr Mizzi as a “hard worker”, Dr Fearne as “a serious politician who is doing a good job” and Mr Parnis as the one “who most helps out when we are in need”.
“Konrad [Mizzi] and his people are working hard to beat Chris [Fearne] and remain in pole positon. This is his way of proving to the Prime Minister that he deserves another Cabinet post,” another delegate said.
Last week The Sunday Times of Malta revealed that Dr Mizzi, Minister Within the Office of the Prime Minister, had given the green light to recruiting some 150 fitters at the Water Services Corporation, most of them from his own electoral district.
Confirming that the WSC will add new employees, the OPM said water production was about to increase by a third and the recruitment, aimed at replacing retirees, would be “cost neutral” until 2018.
Mr Mizzi has also denied that all the new recruits will hail from his district. Asked to send a list of the localities where the new WSC employees are registered to vote, he did not comply.
The fourth electoral district is made up of part of Fgura, Gudja, Għaxaq, part of Marsa, Paola, Santa Luċija and Tarxien.
Since being elected, Dr Mizzi has been involved in one controversy after another, starting from the engagement of his wife on a government job worth €13,000 a year and his opening of a secret company in Panama.
Despite the widespread calls for his resignation or sacking, the Prime Minister has stood up for him and defended his actions.
“His perceived closeness to the Prime Minister is his winning card with Labour hardcore,” another delegate said.
“Although the national perception about Mizzi is gloomy, people here vote differently,” according to a Fgura resident.
“Remember Lorry Sant. Despite all the corruption claims, he increased his voters in 1987.”