Tal-biki …………… ikabbru l-Parlament flok iċekknuh

 

Mela issa għandna dokument konsultattiv li qed jipproponi biex inżidu s-siġġijiet parlamentari bi tnax il-siġġu. Bħal dak li qallu li l-Parlament mhux diġa kbir iżżejjed.

Id-dokument hu miktub bl-Ingliż. Għal min bħali jippreferi l-użu tal-Malti dan hu ta’ dizappunt f’dokument importanti għal konsultazzjoni pubblika.

Il-proposta essenzjalment hi biex ikun hemm intervent kostituzzjonali biex il-ġeneru sotto-rappresentat fil-Parlament ikun aġevolat. Id-dokument jitkellem dwar “sess” sotto-rappresentat flok “ġeneru” sotto-rappresentat u b’dan il-mod jipprova jdur ma l-posizzjoni politika dwar ir-rappresentazzjoni tal-ġeneru X, it-tielet ġeneru li la jidentifika ruħu ma dak maskili u l-anqas ma dak feminili.

Dak propost japplika biss f’każ ta’ żewġ partiti fil-Parlament. Jiġifieri bl-elezzjoni tat-tielet partit fil-parlament dak kollu propost ma jiswiex il-karta li hu miktub fuqha.
Hemm soluzzjonijiet oħra, li dwarhom ġja tkellmet Alternattiva Demokratika. Hemm bżonn li s-sistema elettorali tinbidel mill-qiegħ.

Flok ma nraqqu l-pannu bil-qargħa aħmar billi naġġustaw ir-riżultati elettorali għall-proporzjonalità u għar-rappreżentanza ekwa tal-ġeneri hu meħteġ li tkun introdott sistema elettorali a bażi ta’ lista elettorali tal-partiti li tkun bilanċjata u li tiehu in konsiderazzjoni t-tlett ġeneri.

Id-diskussjoni hi dejjem importanti u f’dan is-sens id-dokument għall-konsultazzjoni pubblika għandna naqrawh sewwa.

Imma l-proposti li għandna quddiemna ma huma ser isolvu xejn.

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Constitutional reform: identifying the basic building blocks

Malta’s Constitution should be regarded as a living document: one that reflects our values and aspirations. These, naturally, change over time and it is consequently logical that they are reflected in an up-dated Constitution.

Unfortunately, we have only very rarely had the opportunity to consider updates to our Constitution, except in times of political turmoil. The current endeavours of HE President Marie-Louise Coleiro-Preca in leading a steering committee to pave the way for a Constitutional Convention is unique in our constitutional history: it is an experiment which should be allowed to mature.

In its present form, Malta’s Constitution is mostly the result of political backroom dealings and compromises over an almost 60-year time-frame – and the results are, at times awkward. Gaps have developed over the years, that are being exploited by those who seek power at all costs.

In order to improve our Constitution, we cannot start afresh. Our point of departure is the baton handed over by our predecessors, warts and all. It is not easy, as there are many vested interests to be overcome – primarily of those who seek to avoid the adoption of constitutional norms which ensure that authority is at all times exercised in a responsible manner.

The invitation by the President to Alternattiva Demokratika-The Green Party to air its views on constitutional reform at a meeting of the Steering Committee earlier this week was welcome.

AD’s views and proposals on the matter have been in the public domain for quite some time. We need to start at the basic building blocks of democracy. Malta’s electoral legislation needs to change in order to ensure that every vote cast by a Maltese citizen is valued.

Having lived through the political turmoil of the 1980s, I am aware of the difficulties faced in producing a workable solution. The electoral constitutional amendments of 1987 have since been tweaked a couple of times but, however, both the original amendments as well as the improvements made have only served the interests of the PN and the PL. Amendments were always drafted with the specific intention of excluding other political parties from an effective participation in the electoral process and this has to stop.

It is essential to ensure that proportionality between the votes cast and the parliamentary seats elected is not a right reserved for the exclusive perusal of the PN and the PL. This, I submit, is the cause of all the problems faced by our young republic. The deliberate exclusion of alternative voices in Parliament has ensured that Malta’s political engagement has developed into a politics of confrontation, squeezing out the politics of consensus.

This is not all. It is also time to tackle, head on, the issue of gender balance in our parliamentary elections. Humiliating quotas intended to correct results are in my view unacceptable: gender-balanced party lists are the only practical way forward.

In addition to addressing the applicability of proportionality to everything we also require an overhaul of the method of voting. Gender-balanced party lists are used in various European countries specifically to address the gender mismatch in parliamentary representation. Gender balance is not just for man and women: it should also include those who identify themselves with neither of these genders.

A revised Constitution should recognise the fact that, today, the country,  embraces ethical pluralism. Hence, instead of the Constitution being linked to one religious set of beliefs, the Roman Catholic, it should spell out its respect for all religions compatible with the democratic state.

During the meeting with the Constitution Reform Steering Committee, AD emphasised that, unlike in 1964, Malta is now a lay state and this fact should be reflected in the constitutional reform through an abrogation of article 2 of the Constitution. This would reflect the great strides forward made by the Maltese nation as a result of the referendum on divorce, as well as through the introduction and recognition of civil rights for the LGBTIQ community.

Alternattiva Demokratika also discussed the need for the President of the Republic to be elected by an electoral college that is much wider than Parliament. Local Councils should be involved in the election of the President.

Revision of the Constitution should widen the use of the referendum by extending it further to include the introduction of propositive referenda, as a result strengthening the democratic process.

In the coming weeks, Alternattiva Demokratika will be publishing a detailed document containing all of its proposals on Constitutional reform, which will include proposals to strengthen the country’s institutions. Protection of the environment in all its aspects will also feature in such proposals as it is essential that a government that ignores –  or does not give sufficient attention to – the guiding principles in Chapter 2 of the Maltese Constitution should be held accountable.

After five wasted years, the first steps in the process leading to the constitutional convention have at last been taken.