Lessons from Ireland : cross party voting

Following the counting process of the Irish General Election was a pleasant experience. Ireland too, like Malta, makes use of the Single Transferable vote.

Once more, the Irish voter made an intelligent use of his/her vote and elected a Parliament with a plurality of political parties as well as independents. When the counting process was concluded 8 different political parties and 19 independents were represented in the Irish parliament: the Dáil.

In order to arrive at this result the Irish voter was very selective as to the manner of voting. The choices made, not just at first count stage, but, more importantly at subsequent counts, indicates the mind frame of the Irish voter in switching his/her vote from one party to the other whenever there was a need for a vote to be transferred.

This cross-party voting ensures that every vote cast is valued in the order of priority established by the voter himself. This is an advantage of the Single Transferable Vote (STV) which the average Maltese voter, so far, does not use adequately.

Even without changes to the electoral system to apply the proportionality rule to all political parties, the STV makes it possible to return a plurality of voices to Malta’s Parliament if the voter does use the powerful tools at hand.

Cross-voting

7 days

 

Well over 66% of AD voters in the 2008 general elections did not vote just for an AD candidate. Thereafter they voted for candidates of other parties as well.

Most AD voters already practice cross-party voting in general elections. They already cross over from one party to another when voting.

It is not only AD voters which practice cross-party voting. Even PN and PL voters do so although not as often as one would wish.

Our electoral system is specifically designed so that cross-party voting is possible. Voting across party lines can ensure that you select the best candidates in the different political parties. It is a very healthy political tool at your disposal.

After giving your number 1 to an AD candidate you can then proceed with giving your 2nd preference to any other candidate, irrespective whether he or she is on the PN or the PL list.

Similarly if your giving your number 1 vote to a PN or a PL candidate you may proceed with giving your 2nd preference to an AD candidate. It is a very useful way of voting. It has in fact been in use since 1921 when the present system of voting was introduced in Malta.

Cross party voting is a right. Use it well.

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.

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

Il-qawsalla skond Varist

 

 

Fl-Orizzont illum Evarist Bartolo, Membru Parlamentari Laburista kiteb artiklu intitolat Ħomor u ħodor … iżjed mill-blù!

 

Ma jgħid xejn ġdid iżda jagħmel riflessjoni ftit negattiva : jara l-ħomor u l-ħodor bħala alleati inevitabbli minħabba konverġenza ta’ ħsieb fuq materji bħall-ġustizzja soċjali, żvilupp ekonomiku, l-ħarsien ambjentali u l-libertajiet ċivili. Dan jiddikjarah fil-kuntest ta’ għan dikjarat li l-PN ma jkunx fil-Gvern.

 

Huwa dibattibbli jekk hux veru jew le li hemm konverġenza ta’ ħsieb. Għax huwa biss issa li l-MLP qed jitkellem fuq issues li ilhom snin esklussivament fuq l-aġenda politika ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika. L-MLP għal snin sħaħ ipprefera li joqgħod ħalqu magħluq għax beża li jitlef il-voti. U issa qed jiftah ftit ħalqu bit-tama li jappella għal dawk li jivvutaw AD. Kwistjoni ta’ konvenjenza pura, u xejn iktar.

 

Varist ma jitkellimx fuq materji importanti. Per eżempju ma jgħid xejn dwar il-fatt li l-Partit Laburista qabel mas-sistema elettorali preżenti sakemm ħaseb li jista’ jiggwadanja minna hu ! L-emendi kostituzzjonali ta’ qabel l-aħħar elezzjoni li bihom ġiet iggarantita l-proporzjonalita stretta liż-żewġ partiti (PN u MLP) u injorat lill-bqija saret bil-kunsens unanimu tal-MLP, inkluż bil-vot ta’ Varist fil-Parlament. Jiġifieri s-sistema elettorali preżenti m’hiex responsabbilta’ unika tal-PN iżda miegħu għandu l-MLP kompliċi fil-beraħ.

 

Għax minkejja dak li jgħid Varist l-MLP bħal PN jemmen f’sistema bi-polari. Jiġifieri sistema li tħalli spazju għal żewġ partiti biss. Għalhekk qed jirreferi meta jgħid “nemmen li jiena leħen fid-deżert”.

 

X’tiswa proposta ta’ alleanza programmatika meta din tiġi minn ħdan partit li kontinwament bil-mod kif jaħdem jippreżenta ruħu bħala l-uniku leħen alternattiv : jew miegħu jew kontrieh ?

 

Fl-elezzjonijiet għall-Parlament  Ewropew ta’ 4 snin ilu Alternattiva Demokratika kisbet 23,000 vot u fl-aħħar elezzjoni ġenerali ftit iktar minn 3,800 vot. Dawn huma kollha voti li jirrikonoxxu li AD għandha identita tagħha, differenti minn dik tal-Partiti l-oħra.

 

Jiġifieri l-ewwel pass li jridu jagħmlu l-partiti l-oħra huwa li jirrikonoxxu dan u ma jibqgħux għaddejjin b’politika li tbeżża’. Huwa inutli li nitkellmu fuq il-pluraliżmu jekk fejn l-iktar meħtieġ, jiġifieri fil-Parlament, l-MLP u l-PN jibqgħu jagħmlu minn kollox biex joħonquħ.