Thirteen elections, two electoral systems

 

 

This Sunday morning, the news will be dominated by the counting process at Naxxar. During the night, until approximately 10.00am this morning, all ballot boxes will be opened and a reconciliation of the votes actually cast is made. The actual counting is scheduled to commence at 10am.

Depending on the difference in votes between the large parties, we may have the first forecast of the result within 30 minutes. However, if the difference is minimal, as was the case in 2008, it will take much longer for accurate forecasts to be made:  it may well be in the early afternoon.

In actual fact, we have in play two different electoral systems, running concurrently on the basis of different rules.

The first electoral system is the Single Transferable Vote system, which is applicable in each and every one of the 13 electoral districts. In fact, we speak of general elections, as in reality we have 13 different and independent elections running in parallel in the various electoral districts. The Single Transferable Vote system is exclusively dependent on the electors’ choices in the last count.

The second electoral system will begin when the counting process in all 13 districts has been completed and seeks to introduce a correlation between the accumulated final count result with the accumulated first count in the electoral districts. As is well known, a correction factor is thereafter applied to remove any discrepancies between the first count and the final count and consequently restore proportionality according to the first count.

This correction of discrepancies is, however, carried out in only two circumstances: namely if a political party surpasses the 50 per cent threshold, and also if only two political parties are elected to Parliament.  In more than two political parties are elected, and none of them exceeds the 50 per cent threshold, then the correction of proportionality discrepancies is simply ignored.

The existence of two parallel electoral systems has its roots in gerrymandering carried out, as a result of which electoral boundaries are periodically tweaked to favour one or the other of the major parties. The most notable cases of such gerrymandering having been carried out prior to the 1971 and the 1981 general elections.

The 1971 gerrymandering exercise did not materialise for just five votes while, as we all know, the 1981 one was successful in that it returned a Labour Government with a three-seat majority when it should have returned a PN government with a one seat majority.

The 1987 Constitutional amendments negotiated by Dom Mintoff and Guido de Marco established a simple and rudimentary majority rule principle. This was subsequently tweaked with additional constitutional amendments in 1996 and 2007, as a result of which the applicability of the proportionality rules were extended to apply where there only exists a relative majority of votes at first count stage. 

The Constitutional rules makes one basic assumption: that only two parliamentary political parties exist and in fact the 2007 amendments extended the applicability of the adjustment mechanism to both parties.

The physical counting of votes will be carried out under the watchful eyes of representatives of all political parties and the candidates themselves.

Human error, and maybe more, contributes to a number of mistakes during the counting process. Some are generally identified and corrected immediately. Others pass by un-noticed, nobody being aware of their potential impact. During the 2013 General Elections count – as a result of an obvious lack of attention of the party representatives – two such mistakes cost the PN two Parliamentary seats, only for the Constitutional Court to decide on the matter 44 months later.

Given these mistakes in 2013, in all probability the atmosphere in the counting hall will be more tense than usual, with the PN and PL representatives competing over who has the best scrutinising skills.

To the many predictions that have already been made as to the possible results I will certainly not add mine. One thing is however certain: this Sunday will be a very long day.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday 4 June 2017 

 

Il-vot fuq l-aħdar : 4. L-użu tal-Vot

 victor_galea

Il-vot għandu saħħa kbira. Iżda sfortunatament mhux kulħadd jaf jagħmel użu tajjeb minnu.

F’sistema bi-polari bħal tagħna l-partiti l-kbar draw iħeġġu lill-votanti jivvutaw fuq il-kulur tagħhom u jieqfu hemm. Jibżgħu jgħidu iktar.

Ir-realta anke jekk tagħti appoġġ lil xi partit (hu liema hu) tista’ wara li tkun ivvutajt lill-kandidati tal-partit li tappoġġa tivvota b’mod strateġiku lil dawk mill-kandidati l-oħra li “l-inqas idejquk”.

B’dan il-mod il-vot tiegħek jekk ma jkunx hemm użu iktar għalih għax il-kandidati kollha tal-partit tiegħek ikun ġew eletti jew eliminati inti tkun tista’ tagħżel bejn il-kandidati tal-partiti li jkunu għadhom fit-tiġrija.

Fl-elezzjoni tal-Parlament Ewropew għall-2004 meta sfat eliminata Joanna Drake il-parti l-kbira tal-voti tagħha waqgħu fuq David Casa tal-PN ukoll. S’hemmhekk xejn speċjali.

Imma Casa bil-voti li wiret mingħand Drake qabeż il-kwota sew u allura kellu jittrasferixxi l-voti żejda skond ix-xewqa tal-votanti, fejn dawn esprimew xewqa. Dakinnhar il-votanti tal-PN kellhom il-possibilita li wara li vvutaw lill-kandidati kollha tal-PN jagħżlu bejn Arnold Cassola u Louis Grech. Il-parti l-kbira m’għażlu lil ħadd.  B’hekk il-votanti nazzjonalisti fl-2004 effettivament  ippreferew lil Louis Grech flok lil Arnold Cassola. Setgħu jagħżlu mod ieħor iżda dan ma għamluhx.

F’Ġunju 2009, fuq skala ferm iżgħar, fl-elezzjoni tal-Kunsill Lokali tal-Għarb il-votanti Laburisti ukoll setgħu għażlu  bejn Victor Galea ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika u Carmen Vella tal-Partit Nazzjonalista.

Meta ġie eliminat Kevin Cassar tal-Partit Laburista l-parti l-kbira tal-voti tiegħu intirtu minn Emanuel Muscat tal-PL ukoll. Bil-voti li wiret Emanuel Muscat (PL) li kien l–aħħar kandidat tal-PL huwa qabeż il-kwota. Il-voti żejda tiegħu li kienu jammontaw għal 26 setgħu jiddeċiedu min kellu jiġi elett bejn Victor Galea (AD) u Carmen Vella (PL). 7 voti marru fuq Victor Galea. 2 voti marru fuq Carmen Vella. 17-il vot ma għażlu lil ħadd. Il-konsegwenza li ġiet eletta Carmen Vella b’differenza ta’ 5 voti. Id-deċiżjoni ħaduha mhux dawk li ivvutaw, iżda dawk li ddeċidew li ma jagħżlu lil ħadd.

Żgur li ma nistax niddeskrivi l-voti li ġieb Victor Galea fl-Għarb bħala diżastru. Kważi wasal. Imma ma wasalx għal ftit. A miss is as good as a mile !

Mingħajr ma nnaqqas mill-merti tal-kandidata li ġiet eletta, li l-anqas biss naf min hi, ngħid li tilfu n-nies tal-Għarb għax tilfu s-servizz ta’ kunsillier eċċezzjonali.

(ikompli għada  5. Alternattiva hi meħtieġa)

Lejn Proporzjonalita stretta

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Wara r-riżultat ta’ l-aħħar elezzjoni ġenerali li saret il-ġimgħa l-oħra reġa’ beda jingħad li hemm ħtieġa ta’ riforma elettorali.

Għaliex ?

Għax kien hemm il-periklu li min ikollu l-inqas voti jmexxi l-Gvern. Tafu għaliex inħoloq dan il-periklu ? Għax meta saru l-aħħar emendi kostituzzjonali dwar il-proċess elettorali kemm il-PN kif ukoll l-MLP kienu moħħhom biss fihom infushom. Ma qagħdux attenti biex jasiguraw illi l-vot ta’ kulħadd ikollu l-istess piż.

Fil-fatt ftehmu kif “huma” jkunu assigurati li l-voti li jkollhom ikunu riflessi fir-rappreżentanza parlamentari tagħhom. Imma l-ftehim illimitawh biss għal meta jkun hemm żewġ partiti fl-Parlament. Jiġifieri għalihom biss.

Injoraw kull ċirkustanza oħra. Bħala riżultat ta’ dan it-3810 vot li kisbet l-Alternattiva Demokratika (kwota sħiħa mifruxa ma Malta kollha) m’humiex rappreżentati fil-Parlament.

Riżultat ġust u demokratiku f’din l-elezzjoni kien jagħti 34 siġġu lill-PN, 34 siġġu lill-MLP u siġġu wieħed lill-Alternattiva Demokratika.  Jiġifieri waħda mill-4 co-options li saru kellha tkun favur l-Alternattiva Demokratika mhux favur il-PN : kellu jkun co-opted Harry Vassallo flok Francis Zammit Dimech ! B’hekk il-kwota sħiħa tal-Alternattiva Demokratika kienet tkun rapprezentata fil-Parlament ukoll. Kull vot kien ikollu valur.

Li dan ma sarx huwa minħabba l-emendi li saru fi tmiem is-sena l-oħra bl-approvazzjoni kemm tal-PN kif ukoll tal-MLP. L-emendu kostituzzjonali kellhom approvazzjoni unanima u allura kemm l-PN kif ukoll l-MLP jridu jerfgħu l-piż politiku għalihom. Ħadd ma jista’ jwaħħal f’ħadd.

Hemm bżonn li r-riżultat elettorali jkun wieħed rifless fi proporzjonalita stretta fil-Parlament. B’hekk biss jista’ jkun hemm riżultat ġust.