Anton Refalo’s estrangement has hurt Labour in Gozo

In the MaltaToday survey released last Sunday, the PL saw its share of the vote drop to 34.3% in Gozo, with the Nationalist Party forging ahead for the first time in many months.

Former Gozo minister Anton Refalo
Former Gozo minister Anton Refalo

Former Gozo minister Anton Refalo was banished to the political wilderness after last year’s election; a decision the Labour Party may have started to regret.

In the MaltaToday survey released last Sunday, the PL saw its share of the vote drop to 34.3% in Gozo, with the Nationalist Party forging ahead for the first time in many months. The PN now stands at 43.5%.

Up until November last year, the PL’s share of the vote in Gozo had maintained the same level of support the party received in the June election.

But it has been dropping since then, with sources close to the PL telling MaltaToday that the latest survey findings are indicative of the alienation from the party of Refalo’s supporters.

“The Labour Party’s result is definitely conditioned by Refalo’s estrangement in a region where rivalry between candidates from the same party can run very deep,” the source said.

A similar sentiment was expressed by people close to the Nationalist Party.

Although the PN’s consolidation can be attributed to the rapprochement between party leader Adrian Delia and failed leadership contestant Chris Said, the PN source said Refalo’s side-lining should not be underestimated.

“The PN’s lead in Gozo is primarily attributable to the returning peace between Adrian Delia and Chris Said but also to Refalo’s side-lining, which has alienated many who voted Labour in the last election,” the PN source said, adding the Gozitan context had to be understood.

Refalo was elected with the highest number of votes in the 13th district but was not retained as Gozo minister by the Prime Minister. Instead, he was offered another ministry but Refalo refused.

Refalo remained an MP but his parliamentary input was minimal. However, just five days ago he was appointed chairman of Heritage Malta, a government agency.

The move has been interpreted by party insiders as a way to placate the former minister, who was miffed by the way he was treated after the last election, despite his popularity.

Prior to the general election, Refalo had come under fire over the engagement of many Gozitans with the public sector, subcontracted agencies and the Gozo Channel ferry company.

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