Many are arguing that the 2022 General Election dealt a mortal blow to the Blue Heroes faction within the Nationalist Party. This reading of the situation is conditioned by the decline in the electoral fortunes of Jason Azzopardi and Karol Aquilina, the two most vociferous of this grouping.
However, Azzopardi and Aquilina were never the real heavyweights of this group. In the 2017 general election they got between them a measly 3,607 first preferences, even though they ran on 3 different districts meaning a per district minuscule vote of 1,202.
When one takes all of the Blue Heroes who contested the 2017 general election, they together totalled 66,318 first preferences or nearly half of the Nationalist vote. In the 2022 general election, the Blue Heroes could muster just 26,754 first preferences or 22% of the overall Nationalist vote. On the face of it, this faction has more than halved.
In the 2022 general election, the Blue Heroes could muster just 26,754 first preference votes.
But much of the drop is due to 4 former Members of Parliament not contesting the 2022 general election. If these 4 are removed, one notices that the Blue Heroes vote tally in 2017 was 36,643 or 27% of the overall Nationalist vote.
This still means a loss of nearly 10,000 votes or a quarter of the 2017 result for this group.
However, this decline is mostly due to Beppe Fenech Adami’s catastrophic electoral performance, as well as Toni Bezzina having to contest the same district as his party leader this year.
There was also the fact that Mario de Marco – no longer a deputy leader of the Party – and Chris Said – a failed candidate for the leadership – saw their popularity fall. In politics it is a well-known fact that people who are removed from senior positions lose electoral support rapidly.
Most other blue heroes did better than in 2017. In fact, Claudette Buttigieg, Kevin Cutajar, Karol Aquilina, Ryan Callus, and Stephen Spiteri have bucked the overall trend for the Nationalist Party and managed to increase their electoral popularity.
This means that despite appearances the Blue Heroes group remains a significant component of the PN, amounting to nearly a quarter of Nationalist support.
Moreover, the 2022 electoral campaign showed that besides its original members, the Blue Heroes group has acquired new members that are as intent to block other factions within the Nationalist Party from gaining dominance.