Labour sources have told Lovin Malta that a plan is underway for there to be three leadership candidates in the race for party leader, which would force the contest to have two separate stages.
The most likely third candidate is Transport Minister Ian Borg who originally announced his support for Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne, when there were efforts to have him run alone to allow for a faster removal of Joseph Muscat.
Since then, Labour MP Robert Abela said he did not want to be part of a “pact with the devil” and announced he will contest himself.
Sources said delegates were currently being surveyed on who they would prefer between the three candidates.
If there are three candidates, around 750 party delegates will get to shortlist to two, before opening the vote up to thousands of voters (party members).
Sources said that Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne is a clear favourite among party delegates by MP Robert Abela is considerably more popular among members. In fact, this difference in public popularity is already clearly reflected in terms of Facebook engagement on the pages of the two leadership hopefuls.
Sources said that people close to Fearne were trying to convince a third candidate to enter the race so that Abela would drop to third place among delegates, which would make life easier for Fearne when members get to vote.
There are around 10,000 members who are eligible to vote but if others pay up membership of previous years this number could grow to 20,000.
Candidates have until tomorrow evening to formally submit their candidature.