Fatta la Zorba

And finally a Bill passes unanimously through the Maltese Parliament. Ad Majorem Partiti Commoditatem. From the Times:

Go to The Sunday Times

Thu, Sep 27, 2007 

Electoral changes approved

Constitutional amendments on the electoral system were unanimously approved by Parliament yesterday.

They provide that:

• Gozo will be considered as a whole in one district when electoral boundaries are drawn up;

• When candidates from only two political parties are elected to Parliament but one of the parties is under-represented, extra seats will be credited to reflect the first count votes of that party.

• When candidates from more than two parties are elected and one of the parties has an absolute majority of votes but it is under-represented, it will be credited extra seats to reflect its votes.

In all cases, seat allocation will be based on first count votes. The number of seats in the House has to remain odd. All the changes come into force before the next general election.

At the opening of the sitting, Justice Minister Tonio Borg said the Bill also provided that once this Bill became law, the district boundaries would not be changed before the next general election. Furthermore, the Electoral Register due to be issued next month had to reflect the changes.

Opposition leader Alfred Sant said the opposition agreed with this Bill. This, he said, was the end of a long-running saga.

 Not exactly the stuff to call the Security Council and ask for an intervention to reestablish democracy (maybe because we never really had a full-fledged one) but still the kind of stuff to hang your head in shame.

“Prosit hi.”

And now for something utilitarian…

It appears that since the deal is good for two out of the three parties then it is an improvement and “hence therefore”  good for the country. So let us see if it is really good for the parties. J’accuse’s question arises on the sort of freezing of the electoral boundaries. Let us say that Gozo (the district that is most likely to resist boundary changes) suddenly has a burgeoning population and doubles in size. Let us say therefore that although it doubles in size the districtual representation in parliament remains the same. So a candidate in Gozo would presumably have to get double the votes to get into parliament than his counterpart in Hal Tarxien.

From the parties’ point of view this does not make much difference. At the end of the day when all is said and done the proportion of national votes will take into consideration all the votes even those of the Gozitans whose voting value (representation wise) has been halved vis-a-vis that of voters in other districts. But remember the golden rule – so long as the two parties are happy – its an improvement.

And while we are it, Fausto also took us to task on the matter of comparing EU elections to Maltese elections. Ridiculously (in our conceited view) he likened this to comparing a football friendly to a World Cup match. Of course that is quite a twisted view of valuing the people’s will. In both cases they are choosing their representatives in different fora. In both cases they are entitled to a direct translation of their electoral will into the representatives of the party they chose. Somehow we hope that Fausto used his footbalilng metaphor in jest…

(My bet is that FM is now sorely tempted to ridicule the example of Gozo doubling in size. Which will  probably not happen in the foreseeable future. The truth is that even as it stands Gozo’s size is disproportionate to the other districts – which is why the Electoral Commission had suggested to add Ghajnsielem and Comino to the Mellieha et district. Not so fictitious after all.)

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