Bidla li tħalli kollox l-istess

Francobollo_Tomasi_di_Lampedusa_2007

Hi loġika li l-ewwel teżamina bir-reqqa l-andament tal-elezzjoni ġenerali u wara li tali eżami jkun konkluż ikun hemm diskussjoni. Fid-diskussjoni, jekk issir bis-serjeta’, jkunu identifikati mhux biss l-iżbalji imma ukoll min kien responsabbli għalihom.

Jekk il-PN kapaċi jagħraf l-iżbalji li għamel kif ukoll min kien responsabbli għalihom ikun imbagħad f’posizzjoni li jagħżel lil min imexxih fis-snin li ġejjin. Għażla li jekk issir sewwa twarrab mhux biss lil min għamel l-iżbalji iżda ukoll lil dawk kollha li ma kienux kapaċi jaqdu dmirhom u flok ma fetħu ħalqhom ippreferew jinċensaw.

Imma fil-PN mhux hekk isiru l-affarijiet.  L-ewwel ser jagħżlu l-Kap il-ġdid. Wara jiddiskutu rapport li janalizza l-elezzjoni.

Verament li aktar ma l-affarijiet jinbidlu, iktar huwa ċar li jibqgħu l-istess.

A Voice for 5,500 votes

5500+ votes

The Green Vote in last week’s general elections increased by 45% over the 2008 polls. Alternattiva Demokratika candidates polled a total of 5,506 votes: a 1.8% share of the national vote.  But these voters have no voice in the newly elected Parliament.

We have heard during the past days of the constitutional mechanisms which restore proportionality in Parliament between votes cast in the general election and the parliamentary strength of the political parties. Malta’s electoral system guarantees proportionality but only for the Nationalist Party and the Labour Party.  Our parliamentary democracy must be based on fairness, and the current state of affairs is anything but fair.

The fact that 5,500 voters chose to be represented by Alternattiva Demokratika is a bold political statement. Every voter has the right to be represented. That is what representative democracy is about. It is useless to emphasise that we should all work together and simultaneously ignore such a statement. The voice of these 5,500 Maltese citizens should be heard loud and clear. They are subject to the same duties and responsibilities as the other voters who are represented. They are subject to the same laws and pay the same taxes.

It is a basic principle of parliamentary democracy that there should be no taxation without representation. This constitutional principle was forcefully made 800 years ago in the Magna Carta  in 1215 when the British monarchy was forced to relinquish part of its absolute powers laying the foundations for the formation of the mother of democratic Parliaments at Westminister. This constitutional principle signifies that Parliament derives its moral and legal authority from its being representative. Being representative gives Parliament its moral authority to legislate. Our Parliament is in fact aptly called the House of Representatives.

AD voters demand that their right to be represented is respected.  This respect can only be manifested if their choices made on the 9th March 2013 are translated into effective representation in the House of Representatives. The House as presently constituted does not represent the 5,500 AD voters as none of the MPs elected are authorised to speak on their behalf.

Throughout the years Parliament has discussed electoral reform many a time. It has tweaked the system through the introduction of constitutional amendments in 1987, 1996 and 2007. The electoral system is certainly much better today than it was in 1981. The amendments then were required but they only addressed the interests of major political parties and their voters. The interests of voters opting for democratic change outside the two party system was conveniently ignored.

The constant message sent by the PN and the PL that change is only possible through the two large parties has been constantly rejected by a small but significant number of voters. We speak of democratic change as ultimately accepting the will of the majority. This however does not include the suffocation of minorities irrespective of their size. But this is what has been done throughout the years.

In Malta’s political history there was a time when both the PN and the PL were small in size and almost insignificant.

The Labour Party was represented in Malta’s Parliament by one solitary MP, Sir Paul Boffa, in the pre-war years. It was a political party organised outside and in opposition to the two-party system. It prevailed throughout the years and proved the power of the ballot to defy the two party system.

Likewise the Nationalist Party was small and insignificant in the post-war years when the Labour Party under the leadership of Sir Paul Boffa achieved the largest electoral landslide (59%) ever registered by a political party in Malta. Yet it was possible for the PN to rise once more from being a party of insignificant size to a major political force.

In view of the above the declarations of Labour MP Evarist Bartolo that AD’s 5,500 voters should be represented in Parliament in a truly democratic system is welcome. Evarist Bartolo has been consistent in his position as he made similar statements in 2008. Unfortunately then, Parliament’s Select Committee entrusted with considering constitutional changes to reinforce democratic governance did not function.

Alternattiva Demokratika also welcomes the statements made by the Prime Minister Joseph Muscat that the matter should be addressed.

The changes to the electoral system also require the support of the Nationalist Party which has not expressed itself on the matter, even though a number of its electoral candidates have already expressed their support publicly.

It is time to stand up and be counted. AD has always been available to cooperate and present its proposals as it has done continuously. But voters also demand that AD be respected and its electoral strength duly represented in Parliament. To date those voting AD have had their voice suffocated. We await government’s reactions which will hopefully indicate that it really believes that the will of all voters is respected.

originally published in The Times of Malta on Saturday 16 March 2013

Representing the Green Vote

5500+ votes

After the Constitutional Court decided not to accept the PN’s petitions to reopen the counting process on the 8th and the 13th electoral districts it is clear that the Labour Party has elected 39 members of Parliament to the Nationalist Party’s 26.  This result has triggered a constitutional mechanism which ensures that the parliamentary seats assigned to candidates contesting the general elections on behalf of the PN correspond to the percentage of votes it obtained at a national level. This is a mechanism which restores proportionality and ensures that the proportion of parliamentary seats assigned to the PN and the PL corresponds to the votes which they obtained at first count stage. The Nationalist Party has been allocated four Parliamentary seats as a result of this constitutional mechanism bringing the total of its Parliamentary seats to 30.

This process of restoring proportionality is discriminatory as it has been applied to the Nationalist Party but at the same time it has ignored the 5506 votes which were obtained by Green candidates at first count stage. Using the same criteria which have been applied to the Nationalist Party the Greens should have been allocated one Parliamentary seat on the basis of the total number of votes polled.  This would be in addition to the Parliamentary seats already allocated.

Both the PN and the PL speak of their being tolerant of the views of others yet when push comes to shove they have ensured that the electoral system squeezes out all possible alternatives to a two party Parliament.  Every voter has the right to be represented, yet 5,500 voters are being deprived of this right.

The Maltese Parliament is known as the House of Representatives. Its 69 members represent 98.2% of the electorate. The other 1.8% are represented by Alternattiva Demokratika-The Green Party which through the application of a discriminatory electoral law is being obstructed from taking up its Parliamentary seat.

published on March 15, 2013 on di-ve.com

Financing politics in Malta in 2013

euros-loads-of-money

Dr Lawrence Gonzi, some days ago complained that the Labour Party was spending quite a lot on its electoral campaign.

Last Sunday a local newspaper reported on replies it received from poltical parties on the manner in which they are financing their electoral campaign.

Ralph Cassar Secretary General of Alternattiva Demokratika said that the Greens  had a maximum budget of €20,000 for this electoral campaign. It was financed from small donations received from supporters. The largest donation in 2013 was €250.

Then there was deafening silence from the Nationalist Party and the Labour Party.  They have not supplied any information on the manner in which their electoral campaign has been financed nor as to how much it is expected to cost.

It is clear to one and all that the PN and the PL are sparing no costs in this electoral campaign. They are spending millions of euros.

The question remains: who is financing the PN and the PL?  How will the PN and the PL pay back their sponsors?

Malta as yet does not regulate the financing of political parties. Lawrence Gonzi in his years as Prime Minister has spoken a lot on the subject. But his deeds did not match his words.

A Private Member’s motion was presented in Parliament last year by maverick MP Franco Debono. Yet none supported him.

A Green MP after the March 2013 elections will champion the need to regulate the financing of political parties.

The others are not interested.

First published on di-ve.com on January 25, 2013

Data on patients in hospitals and the General Elections on 9 March 2013

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The Information and Data Protection Commissioner replied today 21st January 2013 to a complaint which I submitted on behalf of Alternattiva Demokratika. He has questioned  “the purpose of providing ………..lists of patients in hospitals, so early before the polling day when, I would say, the majority of those patients will be returning home before polling day and will not be casting their vote at the hospital.”

He consequently  strongly recommended  “that the Electoral Commission should require the submission of data, in terms of article 82 of the General Elections Act, not earlier than as from the Monday before polling day.”

The Information and Data Protection Commissioner was replying to a complaint submitted on the 18th December 2012 with reference to the provisions of articles 80, 81, 82, 83 and 84 of the General Elections Act  amended during one of the last sittings of Parliament

The recommendation of the Data and Information Protection Commisisoner which cuts down to size the draconian provisions of the law agreed to unanimously in Parliament by the PL and the PN thereby protecting patients from the unwarranted intrusion of political parties.

(full text of correspondence follows)

________________________________________________________________

Our Ref: CDP/158/2012

Mr Carmel Cacopardo

Deputy Chairman

Alternattiva Demokratika

_____________________

Dear Mr Cacopardo,

I refer to your message hereunder and, after investigating your submissions, would like to submit the following:

In terms of sub-article 9(c) of the Data Protection Act (Chapter 440 of the Laws of Malta), hereinafter referred to as “the Act”,

Personal data may be processed only if :

(c) processing is necessary for compliance with a legal obligation to which the controller is subject;”

Therefore, on the basis of the above-mentioned provision, the submission by the persons responsible for the administration of retirement homes to the sub-committee, established in terms of article 81 of the General Elections Act (Chapter 354 of the Laws of Malta), and subsequently to the political parties, lists of residents and employees, as required in terms of sub-articles 82(1)(a) and (b), (2)(b), (3) and (4) of the General Elections Act, is in conformity with the above-mentioned provision of the Act.

The Act defines “sensitive personal data” as “personal data that reveals race or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, membership of a trade union, health, or sex life”.  There is no doubt that, according to this definition, the data referred to in sub-article 82(2)(a) of the General Elections Act, constitutes “sensitive personal data”  since it relates to persons’ health.  The processing of “sensitive personal data” is subject to the provisions of article 12 of the Act which states that:

(1) Subject to the other provisions of this Act no person shall process sensitive personal data:

Provided that such personal data may be processed in those cases provided for under sub-article (2) and under articles 13 to 16 or as may be prescribed by the Minister having regard to an important public interest.”

Given that General and Local Council Elections constitute an “important public interest” the publication of Legal Notice 30 of 2013 on the Processing of Personal Data for the purpose of the General Elections Act and the Local Councils Act Regulations, 2013, provides, on the basis of article 12(1) of the Act, the legal vires for the processing of the “sensitive personal data” envisaged in terms of sub-articles 82(2)(a), (3) and (4) of the General Elections Act.

In the light of the foregoing, there are no legal impediments barring the administrators of retirement homes and hospitals from providing the sub-committee, set up in terms of article 81 of the General Elections Act, and subsequently to the political parties in terms of sub-article 82(3), with the personal data and sensitive personal data, according to article 82 of the General Elections Act.

However, in this particular instance, that is, where there is a time lapse of more than eight weeks from the publishing of the election writ to the polling day, the requirement for the Electoral Commission and the political parties to be provided with lists of persons at retirement homes and hospitals starting from three days following the publication of the writ, is seen as neither relevant nor proportionate.  More so, I question the purpose of providing such lists of patients in hospitals, so early before the polling day when, I would say, the majority of those patients will be returning home before polling day and will not be casting their vote at the hospital.  Therefore, taking into account the obligations of the sub-committee as set out in sub-article 77(4)(d) of the General Elections Act,  I strongly recommend that the Electoral Commission should require the submission of data, in terms of article 82 of the General Elections Act, not earlier than as from the Monday before polling day.

In view of this recommendation I am copying this communication to the Chief Electoral Commissioner for onward transmission to the Electoral Commission and the sub-committee.

Yours sincerely,

Joseph Ebejer

Information and Data Protection Commissioner

Airways House, Second Floor,

High Street, Sliema SLM 1549,

MALTA

Tel: (+356) 2328 7100     Fax: (+356) 2328 7198

Website: www.idpc.gov.mt

c.c. Mr Saviour Gauci, Chief Electoral Commissioner


From: Perit Carmel Cacopardo [mailto:cacopardocarm@euroweb.net.mt]
Sent: 18 December 2012 16:23
To: Info at IDPC
Subject: for the attention of Mr Joseph Ebejer, Information and Data Protection Commissioner

To the Information & Data Protection Commissioner

Dear Sir,

On behalf of Alternattiva Demokratika I draw your attention to the provisions of sections 80, 81, 82, 83 and 84 of the General Elections Act.

In particular I draw your attention to the provisions of article 82 which provides for information relative to residents in retirement homes and patients in hospitals to be supplied to the Electoral Commission as well as political parties on a daily basis as from date when the writ proclaiming the date of the general election is published. In the case of hospitals this information is to include wards where patients are placed.

It is the opinion of Alternattiva Demokratika that providing this data relative to retirement home residents and hospital patients to political parties would infringe the provisions of the Data Protection Act as it involves the unnecessary dissemination of personal sensitive data which is a matter restricted under the provisions of the Act.

In view of the above I request that you investigate the matter at your earliest and that should you consider it appropriate issue such directives such that the privacy of residents at retirement homes and patients at hospitals is protected in terms of the Data Protection Act.

Kindly acknowledge receipt.

Carmel Cacopardo

Deputy Chairman – Alternattiva Demokratika

The Green Election Manifesto

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The five words “You know where we stand” encapsulate the Green Election Manifesto for the 9 March elections. The message being that the Greens in Malta do not mince their words. The Green political agenda is unambiguous.

The Green Election Manifesto is a 100 page document dealing with various political issues subdivided into 28 subject headings. It is the result of a long internal debate with input from all AD’s spokespersons and will be presented for approval at tomorrow’s Extraordinary General Meeting.

AD will be fielding its team of candidates who will be present on all thirteen electoral districts in the March 2013 general elections.

Eventual Green MPs will advocate a policy of consensus based on consistency, responsibility and progressive politics.

Greens in Malta have always been and will continue to be the strongest defenders of Malta’s environmental heritage, and will strive towards having public spaces which are accessible to all. In contrast to the the PN and the PL Greens have already proven themselves of not being hostage to big business, hunters, trappers, firework fanatics, Armier squatters, and greedy land developers.

The Green Manifesto also deals with issues of civil rights, a humane social policy and equal rights for all.

Greens are for gender equality and will strive to eliminate discrimination based on sexual orientation in all areas of policy.

Green MPs will be ready to work with MPs from other political parties on the basis of an agreed joint programme and will work to ensure its implementation when in parliament. As a minor partner Greens will strive to develop politics by consensus, the prerequisite for a stable political environment.

Voting for Alternattiva Demokratika-The Green party on 9 March is a vote for change in the method of governance which has been corrupted by the two-party system which we have been lumped with for the past 50 years.

If you want change: the Greens can deliver. You know where we stand.

published in di-ve.com on January 18, 2013

Bil-flus ħerġin minn widnejh

euro-bills

Smajt lill-Avukat Gonzi jgħid li donnu Dottor Joseph Muscat għandu l-flus ħerġin minn widnejh. Dan qalu meta kien qed jikkummenta dwar il-gimmick tax-xandira tal-Labour f’nofs il-lejl biex iħabbrilna l-bidu tal-kampanja elettorali u s-slogan tal-PL għall-elezzjoni.

Ftakart ftit meta l-Avukat l-ieħor, Pawlu Borg Olivier, kien qalilna li l-PN fqir ħafna ħdejn il-Partit Laburista.

U ngħid jiena mela x’kien qed iżomm lill-Avukat Gonzi milli jagħmel liġi dwar il-finanzjament tal-partiti?

In-nuqqas tal-PN f’dan il-qasam hu l-kawża ta’ ħafna mill-gwaj fil-politika. Din hi waħda minn dawk l-affarijiet li dwarhom Franco Debono kellu raġun.

U bilħaqq, jista’ xi ħadd jispjegali ftit kif partit li jgħid li hu fqir jonfoq dawk il-flejjes kollha fil-billboards? Għal dawn ma ntefqux euro jew tnejn!

Il-korruzzjoni: meta din tiffinanzja l-kampanja elettorali tal-Ministru

euros-loads-of-money

Il-liġi elettorali tistabilixxi li kandidat għall-elezzjoni ġenerali m’għandux jonfoq iktar minn €1,400 (l-ekwivalenti ta’ Lm600). Dan l-ammont jinkludi dak li jonfqu f’isem il-kandidat il-“ħbieb tiegħu”.

Kemm-il kandidat ser jinjora dan il-limitu fl-elezzjoni tad-9 ta’ Marzu 2013 u qiesu ma ġara xejn?

Il-problema mhiex biss l-ammont minfuq, iżda iktar u iktar minn fejn jiġu dawn il-flejjes. Malajr tifhmu għaliex għal sena wara l-oħra jkollna t’kaxkir tas-saqajn biex ikollna liġi suriet in-nies dwar il-finanzjament tal-politika.

Minn fejn jiġu dawn il-flejjes?

Tweġiba żgħira ħadniha meta Noel Borg Hedley, dak li kien Segretarju Privat ta’ Tonio Fenech, Ministru tal-Finanzi, ammetta fil-Qorti, li kkorrompa ruħu billi aċċetta l-flus biex jinfluwenza proċess amministrattiv. Il-flus tal-korruzzjoni li irċieva mingħand żviluppaturi (l-ahwa Jeffrey u Peter Montebello) għamel użu minnhom fil-kampanja elettorali tal-Ministru Tonio Fenech.

Għal Lawrence Gonzi jidher li qiesu ma ġara xejn meta fil-Qorti saret dikjarazzjoni ċara li l-korruzzjoni iffinanzjat il-kampanja elettorali ta’ wieħed mill-Ministri tiegħu.

Qed ngħid wieħed: għax b’dak nafu.

Voting at the Hospitals and Retirement Homes: 5. Infringement of data protection legislation

mater_dei

As  AD Deputy Chairman together with Prof Arnold Cassola on Monday 17 December 2012 I had a meeting with the Chief Electoral Commissioner relative to the amendments to the General Elections Act as applicable to state hospitals and state run retirement homes.

AD is worried that the said amendments require that the administrators of state hospitals as well as state run old people’s homes to submit regular updated list of patients and residents to the political parties for the purposes of monitoring the electoral process.

This information being made available permits the political parties not only to know who has been admitted to state run hospitals and retirement homes on a daily basis for practically two whole two months, but also to indirectly know what particular condition or ailment patients in hospitals are suffering from.

In a democratic country which gives value to the right to privacy this is totally unacceptable.

In view of this AD has requested the Data Protection Commissioner to investigate the manner in which the electoral process will invade the privacy of patients in state hospitals and residents in retirement homes when the list of patients/residents is provided to the political parties. The Data Protection Commissioner was requested to provide remedies ensuring that the provisions of the Data Protection Act are observed.

Voting at the Hospitals and Retirement Homes: (1) Introduction

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On Monday morning together with Professor Arnold Cassola on behalf of Alternattiva Demokratika I had a meeting with the Chief Electoral Commissioner who was accompanied by the Commission’s Secretary. The point at issue were recent amendments to the General Elections Act (through Act XIV of 2012) which set out the framework for the running of general elections in retirement homes and Hospitals.

Retirement homes to which the amendments apply must have at least fifty resident voters and must be run by the state. This means that only one retirement home, St Vincent de Paul  Residence, is targeted. Ther retirement homes which though owned by the state are run by the private sector (Zejtun and Mellieħa homes) are excluded.

Likewise when it comes to the hospitals it will be the state hospitals which will be subject to the recent amendments. These are four in number, namely Mater Dei Hospital, Karen Grech Hospital, Mount Carmel Hospital and the Gozo General Hospital.

Twenty four hours after the publication of the writ establishing the date of the general elections the Electoral Commission shall form a sub-committee which shall be chaired by a Commissioner together with a representative of each of the political parties. Alternattiva Demokratika shall participate in this sub-committee and I shall be its representative.

In terms of these latest amendments to the General Elections Act the Electoral Commission shall delegate to the above-mentioned sub-committee the running of the general election  in retirement homes and hospitals.

to be continued : tomorrow (2) The draconian powers of the sub-committee