Financing politics: one size fits all

one size fits all 2one-size-fits-all

 

The proposed legislation on the financing of political parties in Malta is a “one size fits all” exercise.

The Bill proposed by Minister for Justice Owen Bonnici still proposes the Electoral Commission as the administrator of the law. This is unacceptable because the Electoral Commission is directed exclusively by the two Parliamentary parties to the exclusion of the rest of civil society. AD disagrees with this proposal and is of the opinion that when this Bill is approved  by Parliament it should be operated by the Commissioner for Standards in Public Life in accordance to the legislative proposal approved by a Parliamentary Select Committee and currently pending for the consideration of the House of Representatives. According to the pending proposal this Commissioner for Standards in Public Life should be supported by not less than two thirds  of Members of Parliament in order to be elected.  This would be a substantial improvement on the Bill on the Financing of Political Parties.

Notwithstanding the above Alternattiva Demokratika has noted the amendment proposed (through the Bill’s clause number 47) to the definition of the term “political party” in article 2 of the General Elections Act. As a result of this proposed amendment the right of access to information held by the Electoral Commission to all registered political parties will for the first time be non-discriminatory. Whilst this will be a substantial improvement on the present state of affairs, it is not good enough.

The Bill places heavy financial and administrative burdens on Alternattiva Demokratika exclusively as a result of the responsibilities resulting from the workings of the proposed legislation. AD will be required to employ a suitably qualified person in order to be in line with the provisions of this Bill. AD does not have the resources to shoulder these responsibilities. This is an impact which was anticipated. In fact during the public consultation carried out on the White Paper on the same topic AD presented a specific proposal. Notwithstanding that the Minister for Justice had then declared that he would consider AD’s proposal, it now results that this has been ignored.

Parliament will be discussing the Bill on the Financing of Political Parties, shortly, before the summer recess. I hope that it will be substantially improved.