Dr. Robert Abela, Malta’s New Prime Minister : All That You Need To Know & Photos You (Probably) Have Never Seen Before

All photos in this article were uploaded publicly on Dr. Abela’s Instagram account

Robert Abela born 22 June 1977 is a Maltese lawyer and politician, son of former President of Malta George Abela, and Prime Minister of Malta. A member of Parliament since 2017, he replaced Joseph Muscat as Leader of the Partit Laburista following the party’s internal leadership election held on 11 January 2020, and was instated as Prime Minister on 13th January 2020.

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Born in Qormi in 1977 to former President of Malta George Abela and his wife Margaret (née Cauchi), Robert Abela grew up in the south of Malta, in Għaxaq and Marsaskala together with his sister Marija. Their mother, Margaret, worked in the administration of the Old University in Valletta and later managed the family’s law firm.

Robert attended the Sister’s School in Santa Luċija and St Francis primary school in Bormla, to then continue secondary school and sixth form at St Aloysius’ College A football player in his youth, he also took part as goalkeeper in the national youth team, Abela also practiced bodybuilding, competing twice in the national championships in the late 1990s.

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Abela studied Law at the University of Malta, where he met his future wife Lydia. He graduated in 2002 and started working in the family’s Abela Advocates law firm, specialising in industrial and labour law. Since before the Labour’s election to power in 2013, his law firm has had a contract with Malta’s Planning Authority, renewed yearly since.

In 2008 he married Lydia Abela, secretary of the Labour Party executive committee, with whom he has a daughter named Giorgia Mae, born in 2012.

Robert Abela started to get involved in politics while his father George Abela was deputy party leader, supporting the party in the 1996 general election. He also supported his father in the failed Labour leadership bid against Joseph Muscat in 2008, after Alfred Sant’s resignation.

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On January 25, 2017, Abela highlighted that a patch of land in his native Qormi was seriously undervalued during the previous Partit Nazzjonalista administration, where contractors paid €0.9 million instead of the full value €8 million.

Abela was described as appealing to voters with no political ties, as well as the perfect replacement to attract Marie Louise Coleiro Preca’s votes in the sixth district of Siggiewi, Luqa and Qormi.

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In June 2017, he was elected to the Parliament of Malta after contesting for the first time the sixth district, including Siggiewi, Luqa and Qormi. He was elected for the first time at the age of 40. He also served as legal adviser to the Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, which enabled him to attend the meetings of the Council of Ministers.

In September 2019 Abela called for a more “hardline” approach to migration, following unrest in Malta’s Hal Safi immigration detention centre.

Following the announcement of Joseph Muscat’s upcoming resignation due to the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia and the ensuing protests, deputy prime minister Chris Fearne was considered the front-runner to replace Muscat as leader of the party and Prime Minister, and other hopefuls (including Ian Borg and Miriam Dalli) were reportedly pressured not to run in order to allow a quick transition by Christmas 2019 with the formality of a vote by party members for a single candidate. Robert Abela remarked that he did not want to be a part of any “diabolical pact”, and presented his candidacy as an alternative to Chris Fearne.

Abela emphasized stability, unity and normality, as opposed to the changes advocated by Fearne.

Abela’s leadership campaign was focused on party members and aimed at striking a chord with the traditional Labour themes, social housing, free medicines for the elderly and better employment conditions for blue-collar workers. while distancing himself from the coziness of Muscat with big business. He also called for a crack-down on cheap labour migrant workers, who he accused of repressing local salaries, by proposing that employers be allowed to hire foreigners only if able to pay them fully on the books and while respecting work condition regulations. He also guaranteed the continuation of Malta’s citizenship-by-investment programme.

At the internal party elections on 12 January 2020, Abela obtained 9,342 votes against 6,798 for Chris Fearne. Over 92% of the Labour Party members cast their vote in party clubs across the country.

All photos in this article were uploaded publicly on Dr. Abela’s Instagram account

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