Is-saħħa ta’ kull vot: għodda għall-bidla

Il-vot li għandu kull wieħed minna hu b’saħħtu ħafna: ferm iktar milli naħsbu. Fis-sistema elettorali tagħna il-vot hu trasferibbli: jgħaddi mingħand kandidat għall-ieħor. Dan minħabba li aħna nagħmlu użu minn sistema ta’ preferenzi, waħda wara l-oħra. Is-sistema elettorali tagħna fil-fatt tissejjaħ single transferable vote (STV), vot singlu transferibbli.

Dan ifisser li aħna nibdew billi nagħtu l-ewwel preferenza lill-kandidat li nippreferu. Wara nkomplu nagħtu iktar preferenzi lil kandidati l-oħra. B’hekk il-vot tagħna, jekk ikun hemm waqt li ma jkunx qed jintuża mill-kandidat preferut tagħna, jkun jista’ jgħaddi fuq il-kandidat li jkollu it-tieni preferenza. Jekk ikun hemm bżonn imbagħad il-vot jibqa’ jintiret minn min ikollu preferenza iktar l-isfel ukoll. Hekk jiġri fl-elezzjonijiet kollha li jsiru f’dan il-pajjiż.

Imma mhux kulħadd jagħmel użu mill-preferenzi wara l-unu bl-istess mod. Hemm min jagħti preferenzi lil kandidati ta’ partit wieħed biss u jinjoraw lill-bqija. Hemm min jinjora anke parti mil-lista tal-partit li jappoġġa. Hi għażla li issir minn kull votant: għażla li jagħmlu bi dritt.

Hemm min, min-naħa l-oħra, ma jagħtix preferenzi lill-kandidati ta’ partit wieħed biss, iżda, wara li jagħżel il-kandidat jew kandidati preferuti tiegħu jagħżel ukoll lil dawk li jidhirlu li huma l-aħjar fost il-bqija u jagħtihom preferenza ukoll, skond kif jidhirlu li hu xieraq. Billi l-vot jgħaddi mingħand kandidat/i ta’ partit għal għand kandidat/i ta’ partit ieħor insejħulu “cross-party voting”.

Il-partiti l-kbar ma jaqblux mal-“cross-party voting” għax dan il-mod ta’ kif tivvota idgħajjef is-saħħa tagħhom. Fil-fatt huma jiskuraġixxu lil dawk li jappoġġawhom biex jevitaw il-“cross party voting”. F’kull elezzjoni l-partiti l-kbar u l-kandidati tagħhom ifesfsu u jgħidu fil-widnejn li jekk il-vot iħallat kandidati minn partiti differenti, ikun ħażin u ma jgħoddx. Jagħmlu dan biex inaqqsu t-telf possibli ta’ voti tagħhom bejn għadd u ieħor. Aħna bħala ADPD min-naħa l-oħra dejjem inkoraġġejna lill-votanti li possibilment jivvutaw u jagħtu valur lil kull kandidat li jkollhom quddiemhom. Għax hu b’dan il-mod li nistgħu bħala pajjiż ikollna l-aħjar rappresentanti.

Fil-fatt hemm numru mhux żgħir minn dawk li jivvutaw lill-ADPD li jkomplu l-vot tagħhom fuq partiti oħra. Il-persentaġġ ta’ dan ivarja minn elezzjoni għall-oħra. Ivarja anke bejn distrett u ieħor jew lokalità u oħra. Għalkemm hu persentaġġ li jvarja pero ġeneralment ikun madwar it-33 fil-mija: jiġifieri wieħed minn kull tlett votanti li jagħtu l-vot tagħhom lill-ADPD, wara, jkomplu fuq kandidati ta’ partiti oħra. Mhux l-ewwel darba, f’elezzjoni akkanita, li dawn il-voti iddeterminaw min jitla’.

Dan hu tajjeb u juri kemm hu b’saħħtu l-vot individwali. Hu mod matur kif tintuża s-saħħa tal-vot u kif ikun assigurat li l-vot jibqa’ effettiv l-iktar possibli tul il-proċess elettorali. Dan kollu għandna mhux biss nirrispettawh: fuq kollox għandna ninkuraġġuh għax jagħmel il-ġid lill-pajjiż.

Qed ngħid dan fid-dawl tal-kandidatura tiegħi għall-elezzjoni każwali li ser issir għada it-Tnejn 14 ta’ Novembru 2022 wara li Albert Buttiġieġ irreżenja mill-Kunsill Lokali ta’ San Ġiljan, in vista tal-elezzjoni tiegħu bħala Membru Parlamentari.

Nhar l-Erbgħa li għaddew tfajt in-nominazzjoni tiegħi b’rispett lejn kull votant, b’mod partikolari dawk li ma jħossuhomx ristretti dwar kif għandhom jivvutaw. Bħala partit politiku, l-partit li jiena mmexxi dejjem saħaq li l-vot hu b’saħħtu biżżejjed biex jintuża lil hinn mil-limiti artifiċjali mposti mill-partiti politiċi ewlenin. Kuntrarju għall-partiti politiċi l-oħra aħna dejjem inkoraġġejna li l-vot ma jkunx eserċitat b’mod restrittiv iżda b’mod li jagħti apprezzament lill-kandidati kollha lil hinn mill-kulur politiku li miegħu huma assoċjati.

Il-votanti li jaġixxu b’dan il-mod, li ma jħallux lil min jirrestrinġihom, jixirqilhom kull rispett għax qed jisfidaw lis-sistema li tipprova toħnoqhom. Għal din ir-raġuni ma nistax nonqos milli nikkontesta l-elezzjoni każwali, anke jekk il-possibilitajiet għalija naf li huma limitati. Li nikkontesta f’dawn iċ-ċirkustanzi hu obbligu.

Biex jagħżlu l-kandidati preferuti tagħhom, uħud mill-votanti jaqilbu l-vot tagħhom minn partit għall-ieħor skond kif jidhrilhom li hu l-aħjar. Fil-fatt, meta ġew mgħaduda l-voti fl-elezzjoni tal-2019 għall-Kunsill Lokali ta’ San Ġiljan, fit-tieni għadd tal-voti, 6.33% tal-voti miksuba mill-kandidat Albert Buttigieg kienu jkomplu fuq partiti li mhumiex il-partit li miegħu hu ikkontesta. Dan hu rifless fil-mod kif tqassmu l-voti ż-żejda li kellu Albert Buttiġieġ. Hu probabbli ħafna li dan jirrepeti ruħu anke fl-għadd waqt l-elezzjoni każwali, kif, wara kollox, jiġri diversi drabi fl-elezzjonijiet lokali u anke sa ċertu punt, f’elezzjonijiet oħra.

Kif inhuma mqassma l-voti li hemm fil-pakketti li jiffurmaw il-kwota elettorali ta’ Albert Buttiġieġ, jiena ma nafx. Ma nafx jekk hemmx biżżejjed minnhom biex jagħmlu differenza. In-numri huma żgħar ħafna, ma hemmx eluf involuti: il-kwota sħiħa fil-fatt fiha biss 390 vot. Il-kwota meħtieġa għall-elezzjoni każwali ser tkun ta’ 196 vot.

Ir-riżultat jista’ jkun determinat minn kemm hu kbir in-numru ta’ votanti li għarfu s-saħħa kbira li għandu l-vot tagħhom u għamlu użu minnha. Uħud minnhom wara li ivvutaw lill-kandidati tal-PN, il-partit li ppreżenta l-kandidatura ta’ Albert Buttiġieġ, għaddew il-preferenza tagħħom fuq kandidati ta’ partiti oħra, inkluż possibilment fuqi. Oħrajn għażlu possibilitajiet oħra dwar kif ivarjaw il-preferenzi tagħhom, jekk dehrilhom li dan kien meħtieġ.

Dan hu is-sabiħ tas-sistema elettorali tagħna li mhux dejjem napprezzaw biżżejjed. F’dan il-kuntest il-vot tagħna jsir għodda pożittiva għall-bidla.

Hu l-għarfien u r-rispett lejn dan il-proċess li minnu jgħaddu uħud mill-votanti li wassalni biex nieħu pass li ġie deskritt bħala pass politiku mhux tas-soltu: li nikkontesta elezzjoni każwali li tirriżulta minn vakanza kkawżata minn kandidat ta’ partit politku ieħor.

Irrispettivament minn xi jkun ir-riżultat, inbaxxi rasi, bħal dejjem quddiem ir-rieda tal-votant.

ippubblikat fuq Illum: Il-Ħadd 13 ta’ Novembru 2022

Our vote: a powerful instrument for change

Our vote is much more powerful than we can ever imagine. Our electoral system provides for a transferability of the votes cast through a system of preferences. Our electoral system is in fact known as the single transferable vote (STV).

This means that we cast our vote by indicating the candidate which gets our first preference by denoting the number one next to his/her name. Subsequently we continue with other consecutive preferences. As a result, if at any point our preferred candidate does not require our vote, this proceeds to being utilised by the candidate which we indicate as our second preference. If required the vote can even move on to being utilised by candidates which we would have indicated as being our additional but later preferences. This happens all the time during all the elections organised in this country.

There is no uniform way as to how voters proceed to determine their voting preferences. After identifying the first preference some limit themselves to assigning their preferences to the candidates of just one political party, ignoring the rest. Some limit themselves to a couple of names on one party list and ignore the rest.

Others, pick and choose across party lines. Hence the term “cross-party voting”. Every voter has this right: some use it, others are not even aware of its availability.

The Parliamentary parties are not enthusiastic about “cross-party voting” except when they benefit directly. They consider that it dilutes their strength. In fact, they continuously seek to discourage such a practice by spreading around the admonition, during election time, that this practice could invalidate your vote! This is done to reduce, as much as possible, voter leakage.

On the other hand, ADPD has always encouraged cross-party voting as such a practice genuinely gives value to every candidate on the ballot paper. This is the manner which can help us elect the best possible representatives wherever they are needed.

In fact, some of those who vote ADPD tend to vote across party lines habitually. The percentage of those who vote in this manner varies from one election to another. It also varies by district and locality. Around 33 per cent of ADPD voters, on average, identify preferences on the ballot paper which go beyond green candidates. At times the preferences they select have had a determining effect on the result.

This goes to show the strength and impact of each individual vote. It is the mature way to use your vote thereby ensuring that it is effective for as long as possible throughout the electoral cycle.  We should not only respect those who act in this manner: their behaviour should be encouraged as it delivers good results for all.

All this is being stated to explain why I have submitted my candidature for the casual election due tomorrow Monday 14 November 2022 as a result of Albert Buttiġieġ resigning from the St Julian’s Local Council  after being elected as a Member of Parliament.

Last Wednesday I submitted my nomination as a sign of respect towards all St Julian’s voters, and in particular those who have unchained themselves from partisan prejudice and voted accordingly.  The political party which I lead has always maintained that our vote can and should be utilised beyond the artificial limitations which the parliamentary political parties seek to impose. Contrary to the stand taken by the parliamentary parties we have always encouraged that voting is carried out in a non-restrictive manner such that it is possible to value all candidates without being hampered by their political allegiance.

Voters who act in this manner, refusing to be restricted in the manner in which they exercise their voting rights deserve to be respected. In these circumstances not contesting a casual election is not an option for me, even though I am aware that the possibilities are limited. In these circumstances contesting is a duty.

In selecting their preferred candidates some of the voters switch their vote from one political party to another. When the votes for the 2019 St Julians Local Council elections were counted, at second count stage it resulted that 6.33% of the votes obtained by candidate Albert Buttigieg had their second preference assigned to candidates of the other political parties. This is reflected in the manner in which the surplus votes of Albert Buttiġieġ were distributed. Most probably this will be repeated during the casual election counting process. In fact, it happens continuously during other elections as well.

I am not aware as to what lies in store in the sealed packets containing the electoral quota of Albert Buttiġieġ. The numbers involved are small: the full quota contains just 390 votes. The quota for the casual election will therefore be 196 votes.

The casual election result may be determined by the number of voters who decide to make full use of the power of their vote. Some have, most probably, first voted for all the PN candidates and thereafter proceeded to vote for one or more of the candidates presented by the other political parties, including yours truly.  Others will have selected other options.

This is the strength of our electoral system which is not always appreciated. In this context our vote is a tool for positive change.

We need to respect our voters, knowing what they go through to express their preferences for political change through their vote.  These voters motivate me in my political work, including in the decision to contest this casual election which has been described as an unusual political step.

Irrespective of the result I am humbled by the experience, and as always submit myself to the will of the voters.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday: 13 November 2022

Għal Albert Buttiġieġ il-bieb tiegħi miftuħ

Bħalkom segwejt dak li qal Albert Buttiġieġ: li kien infurmat li uffiċjal mhux elett tal-PN, f’laqgħa ma spekulatur fl-inħawi ta’ San Ġiljan ħadha fuq spallejh li jwarrab lil Buttiġieġ u jassigura li jagħlaq ħalqu. Għax il-ħidma ġenwina tiegħu bħala Sindku ta’ San Ġiljan qed iddejjaq lil min qed ipappiha sew.

Albert Buttiġieg ma għalaqx ħalqu u għamel sewwa. Imma l-bsaten fir-roti fl-elezzjoni kienu bosta, kif spjega hu stess.

Issa tkellem l-oraklu, Ray Bezzina, l-id il-leminija ta’ George Pullicino fil-passat u ta’ Bernard Grech illum. “Mhux jien” qalilna! Talab li jkun investigat Albert Buttiġieġ biex jikxef dak li jaf.

Albert diġa qal li mhux ser jikxef l-identità ta’ min tah l-informazzjoni, u jagħmel sewwa.

Imma fuq insistenza ta’ Ray Bezzina il-PN ser jiftaħ inkjesta interna!

Il-PN qiegħed fir-rokna u jaf li ma jistax joħroġ minnha. Daħħluh fiha dawk ta’ bla skrupli, dawk li fid-deher juru wiċċ ta’qdusija, u fil-magħluq kollha konfoffi man-nies tal-flus.

Ma’ Albert tkellimt. Nifhmu. Nifhem minn xiex għaddej. Fil-ġimgħat li ġejjin il-PN ser jipprova jagħmlu kkapuljat.

Għal min hu ġenwin bħal Albert, il-bieb tiegħi miftuħ.