The Maltese Labor Party elected a new chairman on Saturday to succeed Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, who announced his resignation after increasing accountability at home and overseas following the murder of an anti-corruption journalist.
Members of the ruling Labour Party will elect a new leader to take over the role.
But his premiership was also dogged by allegations of corruption, with Caruana Galizia repeatedly denouncing alleged wrongdoing in the worlds of both politics and business before she was killed in a auto bomb.
Joseph Muscat is stepping down as leader and prime minister amid claims that he protected associates who had links to people allegedly involved in the 2017 murder of anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
His father, George Abela, was deputy leader of the Labour Party until 1998 and had contested the party leadership election which saw Muscat become party leader in 2008.
She was killed by a vehicle bomb in 2017 as she investigated corruption in Malta.
It was expected that some 17,500 Labour voters would vote for the party's first mid-term prime minister in history.
Fearne, who has the support of most cabinet members, is a favorite to win, but Abela had closed the gap in the polls in the last week of the campaign, the Times of Malta said. Both have insisted that they represent continuity, and emphasized their determination to keep the economy on its stellar path.
Dubbed the "one woman WikiLeaks", Caruana Galizia exposed corruption at the highest levels on the Mediterranean island.
"As a member of the European Union, we want and deserve better than this: good governance, rule of law", he said, adding that he was "tired of knowing that I am from a country of tax haven".
The probe into Caruana Galizia's death led to a political crisis in Malta.
In an emotional farewell speech on Friday, Muscat said he was "sorry" for the murder, the investigation he was accused of obstructing.
The opposition Nationalist Party strongly criticized Muscat's "surrealist, quot; speech, noting that it was Caruana Galiza who paid that price. The Labour Party has won. let us work together for unity", the new prime minister was quoted as saying by the media outlet.
Three men are facing trial for carrying out the assassination, while a fourth, prominent Maltese businessman Yorgen Fenech, has been charged with complicity in the murder.
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