Dr George Abela was elected President of the Republic of Malta on the 4th of April 2009 following a Parliamentary Resolution unanimously approving his appointment as the eighth President of Malta. His nomination shows a historic development in the constitutional history of our country because, for the first time in thirty-six years, the President was elected with the unanimous approval of the two political parties represented in Parliament. It was also the first time that the Government of the day nominated a President with different political views.
Dr Abela was born in Qormi on the 22nd of April 1948 and is the son of a registered port worker. He received his education at the Lyceum and the University of Malta where he first obtained a Bachelor of Arts in English, Maltese and History and later graduated in Law. He furthered his studies in European Law and obtained a Magister Iuris degree in 1995. He also has a Diploma to serve as a lawyer in Ecclesiastical Courts in cases of marriage annulments.
Dr Abela practiced the profession of lawyer specialising in Civil, Commercial and Industrial Law for thirty-three years. For twenty-five years he served as legal adviser to the General Workers’ Union and presented the interests of the workers, members in four separate trade unions, in the negotiations regarding the plan to rescue Air Malta in 2002. He was a representative of port workers in the June 2007 port reform, which reform was considered by the European Commission as a model of social dialogue to be followed by other member states. He also served as legal adviser to the Medical Association of Malta and other house unions.
For many years, Dr Abela worked tirelessly in the administration of sports in Malta, particularly in football. He first served as treasurer at his local football club, Qormi F.C., and later as President of the same club. In 1982, after serving as Vice President, he was elected President of the Malta Football Association, holding this position for ten years. During his tenure as president, major changes took place in the local football association at an administrative and technical level. Major infrastructural investments were made to grow a new turf surface at the National Stadium in Ta’ Qali, which for the first time was being fully managed by the football association; new turf training grounds were built; floodlights were installed both at the National Stadium and in adjacent training areas; a fully equipped physiotherapy clinic and gymnasium were also opened. Foreign full-time coaches were hired, assisted by the best Maltese coaches, in charge of leading the national teams. Coaching and refereeing courses were also organised under the leadership of European and international football bodies.
The national team players were hired full-time for the first time on a professional basis, and once again the Maltese team’s international games began to attract the support of the Maltese sports public. Football nurseries were inaugurated all over the island. Dr Abela was the local Association’s representative at many UEFA meetings. He also served as an arbitrator at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne.
Additionally, Dr Abela was also involved in the Kerygma Movement where for some years he served as Chairman for the Campaign – Solidarity Through Sports in Aid of Philanthropic Institutions.
In 1992, after ten years in the highest positions of Maltese football, Dr Abela was elected Deputy Leader of the Malta Labour Party in charge of Party Affairs. In 1996, the Malta Labour Party won the general election with the largest majority of votes a party has ever won. As a result, he was appointed legal adviser to the Prime Minister and was invited to attend cabinet meetings.
Dr George Abela served for several years as Director of the Central Bank of Malta and as Executive Director of Bank of Valletta p.l.c.
He was also a member of the Electoral Commission responsible for conducting the 1987 General elections.
He took an active part in the Malta EU Steering and Action Committee (MEUSAC) in the preliminary negotiations before Malta joined the European Union, where he was part of the core group that concentrated on the legal and social aspects of the accession. After the accession, he rejoined MEUSAC as a representative of the Labour Party.
Dr Abela is married to Margaret née Cauchi and they have two children, Robert and Maria.