Il-Kostituzzjoni tagħna: ir-riforma meħtieġa

Hawn min iqis li l-kostituzzjoni ta’ Malta hi tajba kif inhi u li għaldaqstant, jaħseb, li ma hemm l-ebda ħtieġa li nduruha dawra sew. Kien ikun sewwa kieku din kienet is-sitwazzjoni. Imma sfortunatament l-affarijiet huma ferm differenti minn hekk. Il-kostituzzjoni teħtieġ ferm iktar minn ftit irtokki ‘l hawn u ‘l-hemm.

lkoll nafu li l-kostituzzjoni ma titħaddimx biss minn persuni ta’ rieda tajba. Nistgħu ngħidu li xi minn daqqiet din ir-rieda tajba tkun ftit skarsa f’dawk li jmexxu u f’dawk li niddependu fuqhom għat-tħaddim tal-kostituzzjoni. Xi drabi dawn ifittxu t-toqob minn fejn jgħaddu u b’hekk jagħmlu ħilithom biex jevitaw milli jwettqu dmirhom.

Ilkoll nixtiequ li dan ma kienx hekk, imma l-esperjenzi tagħna lkoll, kontinwament, juru mod ieħor. Huma esperjenzi li l-ħin kollu juru li hemm ħtieġa illi l-kostituzzjoni tkun ħafna iktar ċara milli hi illum biex tilqa’ iktar għall-kontra l-abbużi u tonqos il-possibilità tal-misinterpretazzjoni tagħha.

Malta qed tinbidel u jeħtieġ li l-kostituzzjoni tagħna tirrifletti din il-bidla. Hu meħtieġ li l-Kostituzzjoni illum tirrifletti l-valuri ta’ Malta tas-seklu 21.

Tul is-snin, Alternattiva Demokratika tkellmet dwar diversi aspetti tal-kostituzzjoni li jeħtieġ li jkunu ikkunsidrati mill-ġdid, inkella li hemm bżonn li jiżdiedu ma’ dak li tipprovdi għalihom il-kostituzzjoni attwali. Dan jeħtieġ li jsir mhux biss fid-dawl tal-esperjenzi tal-pajjiż tul is-snin imma ukoll għax il-pajjiż għaddej minn metamorfosi kontinwa.

Ewlenija fost dawn l-esperjenzi hemm ir-rwol sekondarju li fih, tul is-snin, ġie mqiegħed il-Parlament fil-konfront tal-Kabinett. Ma’ dan trid iżżid ukoll id-drawwa tal-Parlament li kontinwament jgħaddi poteri sostanzjali lill-Kabinett kif ukoll lill-Ministri individwali mingħajr l-iċken sorveljanza inkella b’sorveljanza irriżorja. Hemm ukoll il-korpi regolatorji li l-persuni li jmexxuhom mhux biss jinħatru, ġeneralment, mingħajr referenza lill-Parlament, imma li wkoll, b’mod konsistenti, ftit li xejn isir skrutinju tagħhom, la qabel ma jinħatru u wisq inqas wara.

Din kienet is-sitwazzjoni sal-emendi riċenti għall-Att dwar l-Amministrazzjoni Pubblika liema emendi ħolqu l-Kumitat Permanenti dwar il-Ħatriet Pubbliċi biex ikunu skrutinati mill-Parlament xi ħatriet politiċi li jsiru minn żmien għal żmien. Minn dak li rajna s’issa, l-iskrutinju li qiegħed isir hu wieħed superfiċjali ħafna, lil hinn minn dak li hu mistenni.

Ir-rapport riċenti tal-Kummissjoni Venezja tal-Kunsill tal-Ewropa, li jiffoka fuq is-saltna tad-dritt, l-indipendenza tal-ġudikatura u tal-korpi bl-inkarigu li jinfurzaw il-liġi, jiftaħ id-diskussjoni beraħ dwar kif għandhom isiru dawn il-ħatriet u dwar jekk il-Gvern u/jew il-Parlament għandux fil-fatt ikollhom xi rwol f’dan il-proċess.

Fil-fehma ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika mhux aċċettabbli li l-Parlament jibqa’ jagħti blank cheque lill-Kabinett, lill-Ministri u lill-awtoritajiet regolatorji. Il-Parlament għandu jżomm il-kontroll effettiv f’idejh: huwa l-Parlament li għandu jmexxi u mhux il-Kabinett għax, kif iħobbu jfakkruna wħud ta’ kulltant, il-Parlament hu l-ogħla istituzzjoni tal-pajjiż.

Mill-Indipendenza l-pajjiż dejjem tmexxa mill-Kabinett li kontinwament ta’ struzzjonijiet lill-Parlament, li, għall-formalità, bi ftit eċċezzjonijiet, approva dawn l-istruzzjonijiet u mexa magħhom.

Dan ovvjament kien possibli minħabba l-polarizzazzjoni tal-pajjiż f’żewġ sferi politiċi li ttrasformaw dak li fuq il-karta hi demokrazija parlamentari f’sistema ta’ ċentraliżmu demokratiku, immexxija mill-Kabinett.

Spiċċajna biex flok il-Kabinett hu qaddej tal-Parlament l-affarijiet huma kważi kompletament bil-maqlub.

Din, fil-fehma ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika, hi waħda mir-raġunijiet ewlenin għaliex kontinwament hemm resistenza għal sistema elettorali aħjar li tagħti spażju lill-ilħna oħrajn, lil hinn mill-ilħna tradizzjonali.

Għax l-effett prattiku tad-dħul ta’ partiti politiċi addizzjonali fil-Parlament, eventwalment, ikun ifisser rifondazzjoni tad-demokrazija parlamentari bid-deċiżjonijiet jittieħdu fil-Parlament stess u l-Kabinett ikun relegat għal postu: jirrapporta lill-Parlament, jieħu l-istruzzjonijiet mingħandu u jwettaqhom!

Fi ftit kliem, dan ifisser il-ħtieġa li jkun hemm separazzjoni effettiva bejn l-eżekuttiv u l-leġislattiv, punt fundamentali meta qed nitħaddtu dwar il-kostituzzjoni ta’ demokrazija parlamentari. Din is-separazzjoni illum teżisti fuq il-karta biss.

Il-Kostituzzjoni teħtieġ li tirrifletti ukoll il-ħtieġa għal trasparenza u l-kontabilità. Dan hu meħtieġ mhux biss min-naħa tal-politiċi imma wkoll mingħand dawk kollha li jirċievu kwalunkwe delega ta’ xi forma ta’ awtorità eżekuttiva, anke l-iżjed waħda ċkejkna.

Ma’ dan kollu trid iżżid is-sistema elettorali, li teħtieġ tibdil sostanzjali. Dan hu meħtieġ prinċipalment minħabba li r-regoli kostituzzjonali dwar il-proporzjonalità huma limitati u diskriminatorji fl-applikazzjoni tagħhom.

Dawn japplikaw biss f’sitwazzjoni fejn fil-Parlament ikun hemm żewġ partiti politiċi u u allura, b’mod prattiku, japplikaw favur il-Partit Laburista u l-Partit Nazzjonalista, li fassluhom favur tagħhom.

Imma l-proċess elettorali jeħtieġ li jkun eżaminat mill-ġdid ukoll, għax illum, iktar minn qatt qabel, hawn il-ħtieġa ta’ intervent leġislattiv biex ikun indirizzat in-nuqqas tal-presenza adegwata tal-ġeneri differenti fil-fora politiċi Maltin, ewlieni fosthom fil-Parlament Malti.

Pajjiżna qed jinbidel kontinwament. Kultant din il-bidla isseħħ b’ritmu kajman. Drabi oħra din issir b’għaġġla kbira, kif qed iseħħ fil-mument. Huma bidliet li l-poplu Malti qed iħaddan kontinwament.

Bidliet li żdiedu fir-ritmu hekk kif Malta issieħbet fl-Unjoni Ewropea u bdiet dieħla fis-seklu wieħed u għoxrin, u b’mod iktar qawwi minn meta seħħ l-approvazzjoni tar-referendum dwar id-divorzju fl-2011.

Malta tal-lum hi differenti minn Malta tal-1964. F’numru ta’ aspetti hi wkoll Malta aħjar. Hi Malta li mxiet ‘il-quddiem u addattat ruħha ġeneralment b’suċċess għal dak li seħħ madwarha. F’dan il-proċess mifrux fuq kważi 60 sena, minn stat prattikament konfessjonali Malta żviluppat fi stat lajk b’koeżistenza ta’ valuri li jikkuntrastaw.

F’Malta illum isaltan pluraliżmu etiku. Hija din il-pluralità ta’ valuri ta’ Malta tal-lum li għandna nżommu quddiem għajnejna aħna u niddibattu dwar x’forma għandu jkollha kostituzzjoni emendata jew mibdula fil-ġimgħat u fix-xhur li ġejjin.

 

Ippubblikat fuq Illum : Il-Ħadd 10 ta’ Novembru 2019

Our Constitution: the reform ahead

Some may consider that Malta’s Constitution is fine in its present state but, unfortunately, much more than a couple of tweaks are required. We are all aware that constitutional mechanics are not only subject to the workings of people of good faith: some excel in seeking the most devious of ways to justify the avoidance of their Constitutional responsibilities.

Most of us wish that this was not the case but, unfortunately, it is the reality. Experience has taught us that a number of our Constitutional provisions need to be clearer to be able to withstand abuse and misinterpretation. Malta is in a continuous state of change, which must be reflected in our Constitution. The Constitution should be a reflection of today’s values: it should reflect a 21st century Malta.

Over the years, Maltese Greens have spoken up on various aspects of the existing Constitution which need revisiting or new elements that need to be introduced. This is essential – not only in order to apply the lessons learnt from our experiences but also to reflect the continuous metamorphosis through which the country is going.

Topping the list of considerations is the need to address the secondary role in which Parliament has been placed over the years with the Cabinet, effectively, taking over. In this context, it is very relevant to focus on Parliament’s handing over substantial responsibilities to the Cabinet or directly to individual Ministers without the minimum oversight. This also applies to regulatory bodies or institutions which are generally appointed and entrusted with substantial responsibilities without even a basic referral to Parliament.

This situation prevailed up until the recent amendments to the Public Administration Act, which created a Parliamentary Permanent Committee to examine political appointments in the public service. From what has been seen so far, the operations of this Committee leave much to be desired.

The recent report of the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe, which has a focus on the state of play of the rule of law in Malta, judicial independence – as well as the autonomy of those entrusted to enforce the law – encourages debating reconsideration of the manner in which these appointments are made and whether, and to what extent, the Government and/or Parliament have any role to play in the process.

It is not acceptable in this day and age that Parliament hands over a number of blank cheques to the Cabinet, Ministers and regulatory bodies. Parliament should retain ultimate oversight and control, currently a function usurped by the Cabinet. Since 1964, the Cabinet has always taken the lead – issuing ‘instructions’ to Parliament, which has generally rubber-stamped these instructions and followed them through.

This has been made possible by the prevalent intensive political polarisation that has transformed what – on paper – is a parliamentary democracy to one where democratic centralism, led by Cabinet, prevails. We have ended up with Parliament serving the Cabinet, when it should be the other way around. In my view, this is one of the basic reasons for the continuous resistance to the reform of the electoral system which would give adequate democratic space to political formations outside the traditional ones. The practical impact of the entry of new political parties into Parliament would be a re-foundation of parliamentary democracy, with Parliament standing on its own two feet and issuing instructions to Cabinet, not the other way around. This would signify an effective separation of executive and legislative powers: a fundamental issue in the Constitution of any parliamentary democracy and one which, so far in Malta, exists only on paper.

Our Constitution needs to reflect the basic need for transparency and accountability. This should be applicable not just to those elected to political office but also to those having a delegated authority on any matter, however small.

The electoral system requires substantial change. This is primarily due to the fact that the constitutional rules on proportionality are defective and discriminatory. They only apply in a Parliament composed of two political parties: in practice they thus apply only in favour of the Labour Party and the Nationalist Party who designed them to suit their needs. The electoral process also needs revisiting to address the gender imbalance in our parliamentary representation.

Malta is continuously changing. This change is proceeding at a varying rate that has been accelerating since we joined the European Union, but more so since the positive divorce referendum of 2011.

Malta in the 21st century is substantially different to the Malta of 1964. In many aspects it is also a better Malta that has generally successfully adapted to change. In this context, in a 60-year timeframe Malta has developed from a confessional state to a lay one with the co-existence of contrasting values.

In Malta today one can speak of ethical pluralism and it is this plurality of values of today’s Malta that should be the basic foundation stone of the constitutional reform process on which we will be embarking in the coming weeks and months.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday 10 November 2019

Constitutional Convention: upsetting the apple-cart

 

A Constitutional Convention is long overdue. It has been on the public agenda for years.

Over the years, Malta’s Constitution has been patched up several times in order to resolve political issues arising at that particular point in time. It is about time that the Constitution is considered in its entirety in order to ensure that it serves the needs of the nation now and in the foreseeable future. An overhaul would certainly be in order.

One major issue which, in my view, needs to be addressed is the curtailing of the executive’s power over the composition, set-up and running of authorities and institutions so that these can begin functioning properly. Rather than the executive ceding power, as Minister Owen Bonnici stated recently when piloting the debate on the Bill that seeks to introduce limited screening of public appointments, it means that Parliament should rediscover its proper functions and claim back its authority.

This is the basic flaw in Malta’s Constitutional set-up. Malta is described as a Parliamentary democracy and, on paper, Parliament does have the power to decide but, over the years it has been reluctant to upset the current balance of power that favours Cabinet over Parliament. Unless and until there is a will to address this, no headway can be made and any proposed changes will necessarily be cosmetic in nature.

Currently, the focus of public debate is on the functioning of the institutions of the state. This debate has been going on for some time but has gathered steam as a result of the obvious inertia observed over many years. The principal issue is the manner in which major public appointments are made.

Unfortunately the public debate is sometimes derailed. The debate on the Attorney General’s office, for example, should rather be on the functions of the office than on Dr. Peter Grech, the current incumbent. In particular, Parliament should examine whether the multitude of responsibilities added to the office of the Attorney General over the years have diluted its Constitutional responsibilities. One detailed proposal on the hiving off of responsibility for public prosecutions was made in the Vanni Bonello-led Justice Reform Commission, many moons ago. So far, no action has been taken.

I think that by now it is clear to all that Parliament, on its own, will not deliver on the reform required because such reform, if properly carried out, will upset the manner in which political power is exercised in these islands.

The basic Constitutional set-up underpinning the 1964 Constitution, notwithstanding the multitude of changes carried out throughout the years – including the 1974 change from a Constitutional Monarchy to a Republic – is still substantially in place. On Independence, in 1964, most of the powers of the British sovereign, then exercised through the Governor, were handed over to the Prime Minister, subject to the theoretical oversight of Parliament. For over 50 years, Parliament has been reluctant to upset the apple-cart and no Prime Minister has ever had the courage to propose the curtailment of his own powers and handing them over completely to Parliament, which is where they belong in a Parliamentary democracy. Nor has Parliament ever taken the initiative: its composition prevents it from acting in such a manner.

The current large size of the Cabinet, coupled with the nomination of backbench MPs on the government side to various posts and sinecures, is a clear declaration of intent. Keeping backbench MPs happy and occupied reduce the likelihood of them asking too many questions. This has been going on for some time: in fact the Gonzi administration acted in a manner very similar to the current administration in this respect.

This, in my view, is the crux of the whole issue which Parliament cannot and will not resolve on its own. It needs a vibrant civil society (not a fake one represented by a couple of non-entities) which can prod and guide it until it embarks on the path where real political power is channelled back to where it really belongs. This is the real reason why electoral reform has always been left on the back burner, as it is only through fair electoral reform that results in a different Parliamentary format whereby Parliament can start to think outside the box in which it is currently restrained.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday : 5 November 2017

Greening the Constitution

Chadwick Lakes 02

Alternattiva Demokratika – The Green Party –  is in agreement that 50 years after its adoption Malta’s Constitution needs to be updated.  However such an exercise, as emphasised in AD’s 2013 electoral manifesto, should be carried out with the direct involvement of civil society. The Constitution belongs to all of us.

There are a number of issues which require careful consideration. In AD’s 2013 electoral manifesto at least fourteen such issues are identified. They vary in scope from electoral reform to widening the issues in respect of which discrimination is prohibited, by including protection from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. AD also proposes the introduction of a Constitutional provision in favour of a balanced budget, thereby ensuring that government is forced to discard budget deficits and consequently to control the spiralling public debt.

One very important issue is the need to entrench environmental rights and duties in the Constitution. The proposed Constitutional Convention, supported by AD, should aim at Greening the Constitution. That is, it should aim at addressing environmental rights and duties such that they are spelled out in unequivocal terms.  Environmental rights and duties should as a minimum be spelled out as clearly as property rights in the Constitution. They are worthy of protection just as the rights of individual persons.

Article 9 of the Constitution very briefly states that “The State shall safeguard the landscape and the historical and artistic patrimony of the nation.”  Further, in article 21 of the Constitution we are informed that this (and other safeguards) “shall not be enforceable in a Court” but that this (safeguard) shall be “fundamental to the governance of the country” and that it shall be the aim of the State to apply it in making laws.

It is not conducive to good governance to first declare adherence to specifc safeguards, but then specifically excluding the Courts from ensuring that such safeguards are being observed.

The strategy of announcing principles but then not providing the legislative framework for their implementation was also taken up in environmental legislation. In fact articles 3 and 4 of the 2010 Environment and Development Planning Act  announce a whole list of sound environmental principles. However  in article 5 of the same Act it is then stated that these cannot be enforced in a Court of Law!

When I had the opportunity of discussing the Environment and Development Planning Bill with Mario de Marco (then Parliamentary Secretary responsible for Tourism and the Environment) I had proposed on behalf of the Greens that the declarations  in articles 3 and 4 of the Bill should not be just guiding principles. They ought to be made enforceable by our Courts subject to the introduction of  a suitable transition. Unfortunately Dr de Marco did not take up the Greens proposal.

As things stand today, article 3 of the Environment and Development Planning Act announces very pompously that the government,  as well as every person in Malta, has the duty to protect the environment. Furthermore it is announced that we are duty bound to assist in the taking of preventive and remedial measures to protect the environment and manage resources in a sustainable manner.

Article 4 goes further:  it  states that government is responsible towards present and future generations.  It then goes on to list ten principles which should guide government in its endeavours.  Integrating environmental concerns in decisions on socio-economic and other policies is first on the list. Addressing pollution and environmental degradation through the implementation of the polluter pays principle and the precautionary principle follows immediately after.  Cooperation with other governments and entities enshrines the maxim of “think global, act local” as Malta both affects and is affected by environmental impacts wherever they occur.  The fourth guiding principle is the need to disseminate environmental information whilst the fifth one underlines the need of research as a basic requirement of sound environment policy.  The waste management hierarchy is referred to in the sixth principle followed immediately by underlining the requirement to safeguard biological diversity and combatting all forms of pollution.  Article 4 ends by emphasising that the environment is the common heritage and common concern of mankind and underlines the need to provide incentives leading to a higher level of environmental protection.

Proclaiming guiding principles in our Constitution and environmental legislation is not enough. Our Courts should be empowered in order that they are able to ensure that these principles are actually translated into concrete action.   Government should be compelled to act on the basis of Maltese legislation as otherwise it will only act on environmental issues when and if forced to by the European Union as was evidenced in the past nine years.

Greening the Constitution by extending existing environmental provisions and ensuring that they can be implemented will certainly be one of the objectives of the Greens in the forthcoming Constitutional Convention.

published in the Times of Malta 18 May 2013

Mill-Manifest Elettorali ta’ AD dwar bidliet fil-Kostituzzjoni: (2) Riforma Elettorali

(2)    Riforma Elettorali

Malta għandu jkollha sistema elettorali bbażata fuq rappreżentanza proporzjonali assoluta bejn siġġijiet u voti mitfugħa f’elezzjoni, ikkoreġġuti b’għatba ta’ 2.5%. Dan il-prinċipju jista’ jinkiseb bl-istess Sistema ta’ Vot Trasferibbli filwaqt li jitwessa’ l-mekkaniżmu Kostituzzjonali attwali li jiżgura proporzjonalità stretta bejn l-għadd ta’ voti u siġġijiet u li jimxi minn wieħed li japplika biss f’każijiet fejn żewġ partiti biss jiġu eletti fil-Parlament, għal wieħed li japplika għall-partiti kollha li jaqbżu l-għatba nazzjonali ta’ 2.5% tal-ewwel għadd tal-voti. Malta għalhekk għandha jkollha għatba doppja, bi kwota distrettwali ta’ 16.6% li tippermetti li individwu jiġi elett minn distrett, u kwota nazzjonali b’għatba ekwivalenti ghal żewġ kwoti biex partit politiku jiġi rrappreżentat fil-Parlament.

………………………….

Id-dritt li ċ-ċittadini jikkontestaw l-elezzjonijiet lokali, ġenerali u Ewropej għandu jkun inkorporat fil-Kostituzzjoni u mhux imħolli f’idejn il-konvenjenza tal-gvern tal-ġurnata.

(siltiet mill-Kapitlu Numru 6 tal-Programm Elettorali ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika)

Snippets from AD’s electoral manifesto: (17) Electoral Reform

The following extract is taken verbatim from Chapter 6 of AD’s Electoral Manifesto

Malta should have an electoral system based on absolute proportional representation between seats and votes cast in elections subject to a 2.5% threshold. This principle could be achieved by retaining the Transferable Vote System while widening the current constitutional mechanism ensuring strict proportionality between number of votes and seats from one which applies only in cases where two parties are elected to parliament, to one which applies to all parties surpassing the national threshold of 2.5% of 1st count votes. Malta should therefore have a double threshold, with a district quota of 16.6% that would allow an individual to be elected on her/his own steam for one’s district and a national quota with a threshold of 2.5%, equivalent to two quotas for a party to be represented in Parliament.
L-Estratt segwenti hu mehud kelma b’kelma mill-Kapitlu 6 tal-Manifest Elettorali ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika

Malta għandu jkollha sistema elettorali bbażata fuq rappreżentanza proporzjonali assoluta bejn siġġijiet u voti mitfugħa f’elezzjoni, ikkoreġġuti b’għatba ta’ 2.5%. Dan il-prinċipju jista’ jinkiseb bl-istess Sistema ta’ Vot Trasferibbli filwaqt li jitwessa’ l-mekkaniżmu Kostituzzjonali attwali li jiżgura proporzjonalità stretta bejn l-għadd ta’ voti u siġġijiet u li jimxi minn wieħed li japplika biss f’każijiet fejn żewġ partiti biss jiġu eletti fil-Parlament, għal wieħed li japplika għall-partiti kollha li jaqbżu l-għatba nazzjonali ta’ 2.5% tal-ewwel għadd tal-voti. Malta għalhekk għandha jkollha għatba doppja, bi kwota distrettwali ta’ 16.6% li tippermetti li individwu jiġi elett minn distrett, u kwota nazzjonali b’għatba ekwivalenti ghal żewġ kwoti biex partit politiku jiġi rrappreżentat fil-Parlament.

Qabel ma tfaċċa Franco Debono

L-Onorevoli Franco Debono donnu jaħseb li qabel ma tfaċċa hu ħadd qatt ma tkellem dwar il-liġijiet elettorali u l-finanzjament tal-partiti.  Fil-fatt fil-blogpost tiegħu tat-8 ta’ Settembru 2012 qalilna :

“If AD had any sort of rudimentary strategy they would take up my proposals for reform in the electoral law and party financing instead of playing Austin Gatt s game who has been against both.” [Nota miżjuda t-Tnejn 10 ta’ Settembru 2012: il-blogpost hawn fuq ikkwotata jista’ jkun hemm diffikultajiet dwarha għax għal xi hin illum tneħħiet minn fuq il-blog ta’ Franco Debono. Ma kien hemm l-ebda spjegazzjoni għal dan.]

Tajjeb li jkun jaf li id-dinja kienet teżisti ħafna qabel ma tfaċċa Franco Debono.

Alternattiva Demokratika ilha titkellem fuq dawn l-issues (liġijiet elettorali u finanzjament tal-Partiti) għal snin twal u dan flimkien ma issues oħra bħall-Whistleblowers Act u FOI (Freedom of Information Act) sa mit-twaqqif tagħha fl-1989.

Ikun aħjar li kienu min jtkellem u/jew jikteb jiċċekkja ftit l-affarijiet qabel ma jħarbex jew jiftaħ ħalqu.

AD discusses electoral reform with Speaker Michael Frendo

 

A delegation from Alternattiva Demokratika – The Green Party comprising of Chairperson Michael Briguglio, Arnold Cassola and Carmel Cacopardo met the Speaker of the House Michael Frendo yesterday. During the meeting, AD’s judicial protest on the electoral system and AD’s proposals for electoral reform were discussed.

 

Michael Briguglio, AD Chairperson, said:’The Nationalist and Labour Parties, keep doing their utmost to exclude all other political parties from parliament. The PN and PL conveniently fail to recognize  the fact all countries in Europe, including micro-states such as Andorra and San Marino, have more than two parties in Parliament’.

 

‘The Gonzi proposals in the 1990s for a five per cent threshold of votes on a national basis for parliamentary representation were never put in place. To make matters worse, Malta’s unique electoral system has been changed in a way that only strengthens the two-party duopoly. Besides, Labour’s recent decision to stop participating in the Parliamentary select committee which discusses electoral reform has frozen the whole process’.

‘Alternattiva Demokratika – The Green Party has proposed a fair and responsible electoral system,  similar to that of highly-developed democracies such as Germany. Given that no progress has been made on this issue, last Monday we presented a judicial protest on the matter. Voters who vote for parties not elected in parliament are being discriminated through the current electoral system’.

 

AD protests in Court on discriminatory electoral legislation

 

 

Today morning Alternattiva Demokratika – The Green Party presented a judicial protest against the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, the Speaker of the House and the Attorney General calling on them to end the discrimination inherent in Malta’s electoral law.

Michael Briguglio, AD Chairperson said: ‘No progress has been made as regards electoral reform since the positive proposals of the Gonzi commission back in the 1990s. Such proposals then gave due importance to the need for fair representation of political parties in Parliament and the Gonzi Commission had actually proposed a five per cent threshold of votes on a national basis for representation in the House of Representatives. But these proposals were never put in place. Actually, Malta’s electoral system has been changed in a way that only strengthens the two-party duopoly. To make matters worse, Labour has now decided not to participate in the Parliamentary select committee which discusses electoral reform’.

Through its proposal for a 2.5% national threshold AD is proposing a fair balance between democratic representation of voters and functional governance. We are for true proportional representation for all citizens, where each and every vote counts the same. Unlike the PN and the PL, which work as a duopoly that excludes others from the electoral process, AD is putting forward responsible proposals’.

‘AD’s proposals on electoral reform focus on the need to ensure that the number of votes are reflected proportionately for all political parties with regard to the number of seats and not only for the PL and the PN, as is the situation now. Indeed, in the 2008 election the PN’s relative majority of 1,580 votes has been rewarded with extra parliamentary seats while AD’s 3,810 votes have no parliamentary representation whatsoever. We are for a double threshold, with a retention of the existing district quota of 16.6 per cent that would allow an individual to be elected on her/his own steam for one’s district and a national quota of 2.5% of the votes cast (equivalent to
two quotas) for a party to be represented in Parliament. This system would be similar to that of highly-developed democracies. In this regard, it is pertinent to note that all countries in Europe, including micro-states such as San Marino, are represented by more than two parties in Parliament’.

Prof. Arnold Cassola, Spokesperson for EU and International Affairs, stated: ‘Whilst not interfering in internal member electoral systems, the EU is always insisting with non EU countries that they should have fair electoral systems.  The same thing is requested of EU candidate countries, like Turkey, whose electoral system with a 10% threshold is not deemed to be fully democratic by the EU.  We ask the EU Commission and European Parliament to note the antidemocratic aspects of Maltese electoral law, whereby it is only the two parties in parliament whose votes are translated proportionately into seats in parliament, to the detriment of  third parties.’

***

Fil-Prim Awla tal-Qorti Civili   

Illum   21 ta ‘ Gunju 2010
Lil           1. Onorevoli Prim Ministru, Berga  ta Kastilja, Pjazza Ta Kastilja, il-Belt, Valletta
             2. Onorevoli Kap tal-Oppozizzjoni, Partit Laburista, Triq Mile End, Hamrun.
             3. Speaker Kamra tar-Rapprezentanti, Il-Palazz, il-Belt Valletta.
             4. Avukat Generali, Il-Palazz, il-Belt Valletta.

Permezz tal-prezenti ittra ufficjali Michael Briguglio (K.I. 202375 M) f’ismu proprju u fl-isem u l-interess tal-partit politiku Alternattiva Demokratika qed jipremetti:

Illi prezentement is-sistema elettorali Maltija hija wahda li tifavorrixxi biss il-partiti l-kbar u cioe il-Partit Laburista u l-Partit Nazzjonalista, u dana ghax l-Artiklu 52 tal-Kostituzzjoni jipprovdi illi jiskatta mekkanizmu korrettiv fil-konfront ta’ żewġ partiti biex jirristawra l-proporzjonalita’ bejn voti miksuba u membri parlamentari eletti.

Illi dan il-mekkanizmu jiskatta biss meta jkun hemm zewg partiti biss li jkunu eletti, u ma jkoprix il-possibilta li jigi elett/ta membru parlamentari ta partit oltre iz-zewg partiti l-kbar.

Illi dan hu diskriminatorju fil-konfront ta partiti bhal ma hu il-partit mittenti peress li is-sistema taghti vantagg lill-zewg partiti kbar u tpoggi lil partiti ohra fi zvantagg.
Illi l-partit mittenti ilu s-snin shah jilmenta li s-sistema elettorali hi rrangata biex tiffavorixxi liz-zewg partiti l-kbaru fil-fatt fil-passat ha sehem f’diskussjonijiet mal-partiti l-ohra biex tinstab soluzzjoni u meta dawn id-diskussjonijiet waslu fl-ahhar il-partiti l-kbar abbandunaw id-diskussjonijiet bejn tlieta u ftehmu wahedhom
Illi wara l-elezzjoni 2008 twaqqaf Select Committee tal-Parlament b’terms of reference li jinkludu titjib tas-sistema elettorali.

Illi fis-sajf tas-sena 2008 rapprezentanti tal-partit mittenti Alternattiva Demokrattika iltaqa’ ma l-Ispeaker ta dak iz-zmien Onorevoli Louis Galea u ghaddietlu proposti f’dan ir-rigward.
Illi sa s-sena 2010 ma kien hemm l-ebda risposta mill-Ispeaker jew mis-Select Committee u l-partit mittenti rega’ talab li jsiru il-laghat fuq il-ligi elettorali. L-Ispeaker Onorevoli Louis Galea kien stqarr li ghalkemm ma kienx ser ikompli fil-kariga tieghu hu kien gja hejja pjan biex is-sitwazzjoni tkun indirizzata.

Illi ricentement ir-rapprezentanti tal-Partit Laburista iddikjaraw li l-membri tal-partit fis-Select Committee fuq indikata gew irtirati mill-istess Kumitat u dana minhabba tilwima mal-Gvern dwar incidenti fil-Kamra.

Illi dan ifisser li ser nerggha nigu f’sitwazzjoni fejn lejliet l-elezzjoni is-sitwazzjoni diskriminatorja ma tkunx indirizzzata.
Ghaldaqstant, intom qeghdin tigu interpellati sabiex mhux aktar tard minn ghaxart’ t’ijiem minn notifika ta din l-ittra ufficjali tghaddu ghall-emenda u tibdil tal-ligi li hija diskriminatorja fil-konfront tal-partit mittenti. Fin-nuqqas ta’ tali azzjoni rimedjali  il-partit mittenti huma sejjer jintavola il-proceduri gudizzjarji opportuni minghajr ebda pre-avviz iehor.

Ghal kull buon fini jigi dikjarat illi din l-ittra ufficjali qeghda tigi inter alia intavolata sabiex isservi l-finijiet ta’ l-Artikolu 460 tal-Kapitolu 12 tal-Ligijiet ta’ Malta. 

Avv. Claire Bonello
206/1, Wisely House
Old Bakery Street
Valletta

Louis Galea should ensure fair electoral reform

Louis Galea should ensure fair electoral reform. Speaking about parliament’s select committee on electoral law reform, Alternattiva Demokratika – The Green Party said that it is disappointed at the fact that in one and a half years the only thing the select committee seems to have agreed upon with regards to the reform on the electoral system is to widen the threshold for expenditure by candidates at elections. Michael Briguglio, AD Chairperson, asked:’Is this being done to ensure that PN and PL candidates who broke the law by exceeding expenditure limits, could come off scot free? We augur that Louis Galea will not be remembered for chairing a select committee that only managed to cover up for such candidates. We strongly urge Louis Galea to ensure that before he leaves for the Court of Auditors, the electoral law is changed so that the number of votes are reflected proportionately for all political parties as regards the number of seats, and not only for PL and PN, as the situation scandalously is at the moment’. In the meantime, a delegation of Alternattiva Demokratika – The Green Party, comprising Michael Briguglio, Ralph Cassar, Arnold Cassola and Carmel Cacopardo met Louis Galea last week to discuss issues relating to the select committee (electoral reform, regulating political party financing and broadcasting) as well as Dr Galea’s nomination to the EU Court of Auditors. As regards the reform of the electoral system Alternattiva Demokratika – The Green Party is proposing a double threshold, with a district quota of 16.6% that would allow an individual to be elected on her/his own steam, and a national quota with a threshold of 2 quotas for a party to be represented in parliament. This system is similar to that of highly developed democracies such as Germany. ‘AD is proposing a fair balance between democratic representation of voters and functional governance. We are for true proportional representation for all citizens, where each and every vote counts the same. Unlike PN and PL which work as a duopoly that excludes others from the electoral process, AD is putting forward responsible proposals’, added Briguglio AD’s proposals can be read at:

http://www.alternattiva.org.mt/filebank/documents/sistemaelettorali.PDF