D’hondt Worry (and the blog goes on…)

It’s been a tough two days trying to catch up with the work that has to be done in between the Election Pause and the Easter pause. Which is why you have not seen any substantial blogging from yours truly. In the meantime the blog comment section has developed a life of its own and, depending on the time of the day, we have had different conversations on a variety of topics. When I say we I include everyone – from the DNA blue to the DNA red to the clucking propagandists to the wankellectuals. Everybody wants to have his say and everybody is free to say it.

One thing that worries me at this particular juncture is that both the media and some commentors in this blog seem to be unable to distinguish between blogger and comment poster. J’accuse has seen all sort of agendas attributed to it when in truth all the reader or interpreter has done is assume that there is some common ground in the comments being posted. It is ironic that when someone comes and calls the posters “a bunch of rebels, alternattivi, grudge bearers etc” he or she ignores the fact that the bunch is also made up of himself and possibly other like minded individuals. This categorising is not healthy.

Sure, everyone wants to protect his banner and his particular crop of DNA, and no one is stopping you. I for one am delaying my penny’s worth of input on the reform issue till the next three days when I can relax from the workload at the office. In the meantime my interventions have been limited to moments when what Keith described as “Zen” exploded by an arrogant comment too many.

As for the reform argument itself I still stick to the line that it has to be tackled irrespectively of Alternattiva, AN or other minority parties who gathered less than 50% in the general election (which in case you haven’t noticed means the whole bloody lot). Governance right now has been resolved with a constitutional compensation mechanism. Whether you like it or not it means that the government currently enjoys the support of less than half the population. I will repeat ad nauseam AD has nothing to do with this.

Suggestions for reform should in my opinion be based on compensation mechanisms that ensure equitable representation (based on a threshold such as 5% to compensate for the wasted vote issue) and combined with the possibility of multi-party governance. I am aware that there is more to discuss and much to disagree upon. In the meantime I will wait a little longer for the shouting game to die out, for the nationalist overenthusiastic misinterpretation of the Phyrric victory to calm down and for the sour grapes of labourite, alternattiva and other party supporters to be digested.

D’hondt worry –  once that is over the real discussion can begin.

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130 responses to “D’hondt Worry (and the blog goes on…)

  1. Ghandek spelling mistake Jacques.

  2. milli jidher d’hodt kien imsawwat meta kien zghir…….. ommu kienet tghidlu ‘d’hondt do this, d’hondt do that’, ma kien jghamel xejn u jaqlaghha

  3. Jacques, milli qed ninnota nahseb illi l-Politika qed tiġri bik ta’ !!

  4. Antoine Vella

    Pyrric victory??? If anyone has had a pyrric result (not a victory), it was AD. They did manage to obtain 4000 votes but, at what cost? You can be sure that next time round the PN will be pointing out the results of the 9 March election and repeating that a vote for AD means a vote for the MLP.

    Those who voted AD almost caused a democratic crisis and this tune will be played again and again.

  5. Antoine Vella Says:
    March 13, 2008 at 5:36 pm

    “Those who voted AD almost caused a democratic crisis and this tune will be played again and again.”

    Sheer political nonsense.

  6. Antoine Vella

    Periklu Says:
    March 13, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    “Sheer political nonsense.”

    There you go again, labelling and being intolerant, offensive and bombastic. Oh go on! Join Lowell, you know you want to.

  7. I’d like to point out to Jacques that I stole the Zen quote from ‘That 70s Show’.

    Why are a bunch of PN supporters coming here to call us “AD campaigners” simply because we have the ‘nerve’ to criticize GonziPN? And why not call us supporters of MLP, AN, Alpha, Gozitan Party, Imperium etc?

  8. Partit Laburista 141888 +
    Alternattiva Demokratika 3810
    Azzjoni Nazzjonali 1461
    ___________
    Total 147159

    Partit Nazzjonalista 143468

    Fhimt ghaliex hemm bzonn riforma elettorali malajr kemm jista’ jkun? Kif Partit fejn il-maggoranza tal-poplu ma tridux fil-gvern, bhalissa qieghed fil-gvern? Jista’ xi hadd jispjegali?

    Ejja Jacques urina l-pompozita’ u l-intellett tieghek biex tfehmni dawk in-numri u l-PN qieghed fil-gvern.

  9. Lawrence Gonzi, 6 March 2008:

    “Vot lil Partit Laburista, lil Alternattiva Demokratika jew lil Azzjoni Nazzjonali hu vot lil Alfred Sant.”

    U tinsewx li Gonzi biss jghid il-verita’!!

    MA VAFFANCULO!!

  10. Don’t worry, Sandro, there will be an electoral reform soon. One which favours PN.

    Example: push up the quota to get elected to 20% to make it even harder for a member of a small party to get elected. This will inevitably stop people from voting for them. Less votes for AN or AD = larger % of votes for MLPN. Problem solved.

  11. I disagree with you about the nature of blogging, Jacques. Blogs, through the comment section, become forums for those who more or less think like the blogger – vide yours and vide mine. Then you get the occasional cat among the pigeons, like me, Antoine and Patrick Tabone on your blog, and the anonymous one or two on mine. You may think you’re having a discussion among different opinions here, but you’re not. It’s people who think roughly alike speaking among themselves, and then pouncing on anyone who comes in to say that he/she does not agree.

    As for your definition of democracy – well, I don’t know. A majority doesn’t have to be absolute (50% of the vote + 1 vote). It can also be relative. I can see the way your arguments are heading: a party must have the backing of more than 50% of those who cast their vote to govern, therefore any party that gets, say, 49.8% must partner up with AD. I don’t think so. In your akkanizmu for AD, you forget that those of us who voted PN might actually not want the party to team up with AD in any shape or form (I certainly don’t, and I’m not alone).

    Anyway, I can’t see what AD stands for that’s so different to the rest – divorce? Not filling in VAT returns? Rent reform? What, exactly? This is a green party that has nothing to say about environmental issues except banging on about the large number of empty dwellings. So what is AD going to do then, eh? Do a Mintoff and start making use of the archaic requisition laws to wrest them off their owners and house nice loyal families in them?

    Maybe you should ask yourself, Jacques, why AD doesn’t have the support or input of a single respected environmentalist (and I mean a professional qualified person with a science background, not a couple of lawyers without briefs). If Antoine Vella is the Antoine Vella I think he is, then he should be militating in AD – but he isn’t. He’s militating AGAINST. Now could that have something to do with the fact that AD are just a bunch of dilettantes, like the ones who used to sit around in black polo-necks talking about higher matters in the 1950s?

  12. Sorry to jump in at this late stage, BUT… if the election resulted in any “democratic crisis” it would have been attributable to the often bizarre way the districts have been redrawn. (Example; I live in Ta’ Xbiex and vote in the same district as people from Gharghur). As has been pointed out dozens of times – most often by Michael “I told you so” Falzon – the districts in their present, ridiculous form work to Labour’s advantage. The butchery of the 9th and 10th districts was acceptable to the PN only because it fragmented the AD vote in AD’s strongest constituency. I don;t think this is a state secret; in fact it’s pretty damn self-evident.
    The upshot of all this is that, if AD got a seat in this election, Labour would have won a majority of seats without a majority of votes. And again, the reason is because our representatives in the House lack foresight to such an extent that their precious Constitution amendment omitted to take into consideration the possibility of a more than two parties in parliament
    So the democratic crisis Antoine refers to would have directly been brought about, not by the third party at all, but by the absurd lengths to which the other two sometimes go to make sure parliament remains their own exclusive little payground forever.
    Besides, think for a second of the implications of what you;re saying here. If having a third party in parliament in itself constitutes a crisis, then a crisis is what 90% of the EU is currently in…

  13. Antoine Vella

    Sandro, you seem a little stressed, my friend. Chamomile is excellent in such situations you know (was going to say lemons but then decided not to provoke you any further).

  14. Sorry to jump in at this late stage, BUT… if the election resulted in any “democratic crisis” it would have been attributable to the often bizarre way the districts have been redrawn. (Example; I live in Ta’ Xbiex and vote in the same district as people from Gharghur). As has been pointed out dozens of times – most often by Michael “I told you so” Falzon – the districts in their present form work to Labour’s advantage. It is worth remembering also that the butchery of the 9th and 10th districts was acceptable to the PN only because it fragmented the AD vote in AD’s strongest constituency. I don;t think this is a state secret; in fact it’s pretty damn self-evident.
    The upshot of all this is the “democratic crisis” Antoine refers to would have directly been brought about, not by the third party at all, but by the absurd lengths to which the other two sometimes go to make sure parliament remains their own exclusive little playground forever.
    Besides, think for a second of the implications of what you;re saying here. If having a third party in parliament in itself constitutes a crisis, then a crisis is what 90% of the EU is currently in…

  15. Fhimt ghaliex hemm bzonn riforma elettorali malajr kemm jista’ jkun? Kif Partit fejn il-maggoranza tal-poplu ma tridux fil-gvern, bhalissa qieghed fil-gvern? Jista’ xi hadd jispjegali?

    Qed tinsa l-frazzjonijiet u li l-partiti z-zghar misshom biss frazzjonijiet bhala proporzjonalita. Hadd minnhom ma jmisshom siggu fil-Parlament. L-aktar, l-aktar Harry jiehu dahar ta’ siggu, Josie sieq u Lowell l-arm rest.

  16. erm, sorry for double post…

  17. Antoine Vella Says:
    March 13, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    “There you go again, labelling and being intolerant, offensive and bombastic. Oh go on! Join Lowell, you know you want to.”

    Sheer intellectual nonsense founded on biased prejudice.

    Antoine, are you a democrat?

  18. “Sandro, you seem a little stressed, my friend. Chamomile is excellent in such situations you know (was going to say lemons but then decided not to provoke you any further).”

    hehe

    I will take your advice. I prefer your chamomille than Jacques’ coffee shops and bars.

  19. Antoine Vella

    Raphael, you are too young to know what a democratic crisis is. Nothing to do with a third party in parliament – we have had those before.

    In the present case, it would have been brought about by the fact that the MLP, having obtained less votes than the PN, would have been in government thanks to AD.

    You may say that AD had every right to try and win a seat, but then it would have had to shoulder the political responsibility of the consequences.

    For the record, AD obtained less than a thousand votes from the 9th and 10th districts combined, so it never stood a chance of winning a seat, even adding ALL the votes of the two districts.

  20. Fausto, ir-riforma elettorali ta’ mohhi mhijiex ir-riforma elettorali ta’ Jacques.

    Jiena dar-rizultat ma jdejjaqni xejn. Il-krizi kostituzzjonali nitpaxxa biha, in-nejka li emendaw xi haga xi sentejn ilu.

    Li jdejjaqni huwa li l-Gonz qal li vot ghall-AD huwa vot ghall-MLP u dan wera li ma kienx hekk. Min ried il-bidla ma vvotax ghall-PN.

    Hemm bzonn issir bidla fir-riforma elettorali mhux biex jitilghu s-siggijiet, ghax is-siggijiet huma kummiedja. Tliet siggijiet inqas u zied 4.

    Hemm bzonn issir bidla biex tkun taf tassew dak li l-poplu jrid man. Din mhix kwistjoni ta’ MLPNADANIESVJACQ . Din kwistjoni ta’ dak li jrid il-poplu: Maggoranzi u Minoranzi.

    Hemm kelma minghalija, nsejt x’inhi jien. tant kemm ili ma nismaghha…….ehmm…. VOTI….le…dik smajtha……eh iva: RISPETT.

  21. Daphne Says:
    March 13, 2008 at 6:33 pm

    ” You may think you’re having a discussion among different opinions here, but you’re not. It’s people who think roughly alike speaking among themselves, and then pouncing on anyone who comes in to say that he/she does not agree.”

    Could not be more true.

    “As for your definition of democracy – well, I don’t know. A majority doesn’t have to be absolute (50% of the vote + 1 vote). It can also be relative.”

    Exactly.

    “If Antoine Vella is the Antoine Vella I think he is, then he should be militating in AD – but he isn’t. He’s militating AGAINST. Now could that have something to do with the fact that AD are just a bunch of dilettantes, like the ones who used to sit around in black polo-necks talking about higher matters in the 1950s?”

    Daphne, that remark was biased.

  22. Antoine Vella

    Periklu, if you, Jacques, Raphael, Sandro and the rest of the ‘armata brancaleone’ can now chatter on about democracy, blogspots and all the rest, it is because those of my generation have had the balls to stand up to the marxist-socialist thugs until Mintoff had to give up.

    So your question about my democratic credentials is as offensive as Harry pretending to be a martyr because he failed to fill his VAT returns.

    I am not only a democrat but a democrat who has always expressed his opinions openly and under his real name, without resorting to some silly nick (periklu, indeed!).

    You think you are. . . Oh, so worried! So persecuted! Living under a dictatorship!

    What you really are is: pathetic. Honestly. You are.

  23. Antoine, for such a wise old man of Maltese politics, you seem incapable of understanding that the “crisis” you talk of would not have come about “thanks to AD”, but because of gerrymandering. There was no AD in 1981. If anyone has to shoulder responsibility for this sorry state of affairs, it is the authors of numerous Constitutional amendments which have cannibalised our electoral system beyond recognition.
    Another point to bear in mind is that while this week’s events will no doubt be used to frighten voters away from AD (or AN for that matter), any changes to the electoral system will affect other parties too, including future political parties which haven;t yet been formed. Political parties come and go, Antoine. The MLP was formed in the 1920s, when the Constitutional Party was at its peak. Where are the Stricklandjani now? There will come a time – most likely after we are all dead – when the PN and MLP will likewise be history. Surely you must realise this.

  24. I fully agree with Raphael, it is evident that the two major parties have done everything to keep off any other party.
    Pointing fingers at AD, is utterly unfair – when the two main parties devised this system fully aware of its implications – thus a threat they can conveniently use (against themselves but ultimately for the system that ensures their underlying shared dominion).
    I may be considered biased, as I have ‘favoured’ AD – however the issue is about ANY group of free people who for their own good reasons think outside the MLPN mindset.
    Fair electoral reform (lower threshold to at most 5%; reducing districts to at most 3 districts; and ensuring that seats represent the proportionality of votes) will promote a truly democratic govt.
    Let’s hope that for a change, the national interest really prevails!

  25. OK, so now we have a warrior of democracy in our midst. Needless to add I will find out exactly every last detail of the heroic role Antoine Vella played in the great resistance against Mintoff. I sincerely hope that his boastfulness will be vindicated.

  26. Antoine Vella Says:
    March 13, 2008 at 7:00 pm

    “Periklu, if you, Jacques, Raphael, Sandro and the rest of the ‘armata brancaleone’ can now chatter on about democracy, blogspots and all the rest, it is because those of my generation have had the balls to stand up to the marxist-socialist thugs until Mintoff had to give up.

    So your question about my democratic credentials is as offensive as Harry pretending to be a martyr because he failed to fill his VAT returns.

    I am not only a democrat but a democrat who has always expressed his opinions openly and under his real name, without resorting to some silly nick (periklu, indeed!).

    You think you are. . . Oh, so worried! So persecuted! Living under a dictatorship!

    What you really are is: pathetic. Honestly. You are.”

    Antoine, I am I.

    I do not know, and I am not acquainted with, any of the other male blog users.

    The talent to be a silly jester (in cyber space also known as troll) is a gift of God in contrast to being stupid, which corresponds to punishment by God.

    You and I are synchronised on one particular wave-length, namely, that I also regard some of your arguments as pathetic.

  27. “Living under a dictatorship!”

    Dwar li ahna bla bajd naqbel mieghek. Il-blogs u l-keyboards mhumiex is-soluzzjoni ahharija Il-vjolenza hija s-soluzzjoni hux vera Antoine?

    Meta nrabbu l-bajd, tigi hawn u tghid li ahna vjolenti hux hekk xbin?

    Jew trid immorru kastilja norbtu saqajna mal-kanuni halli jkunu jistghu jaghmlulna l-favuri personali biex naghlqu halqna?

    “it is because those of my generation”

    You were not with them hux? Ghalhekk spiccajt hawn maghna tikkummenta fi blog pruzuntuz.

  28. Raphael,

    ahna allright jew? Ostrika kemm domt tixorbu l-kafe’?!!

    Qrajtu dak il-messagg fejn ghedtlek li jiena ‘qas biss naf min hu missierek?

    U fhimtu l-punt tieghi dwar S.B.?

  29. Raphael Says:
    March 13, 2008 at 7:02 pm

    “Antoine, for such a wise old man of Maltese politics, you seem incapable of understanding that the “crisis” you talk of would not have come about “thanks to AD”.

    Raphael, that could well have been the case, hence, please, do not discard the argument.

    However, the hypothetical political crisis would not have been the exclusive fault of AD.

    Maltese political mentality would also have played a decisive role.

  30. “Maltese political mentality would also have played a decisive role.”

    Jacques please note.

    Put this phrase on your next bloggata.

  31. Sangru, mhux veru jew?

  32. I’m not discarding the argument. It has to be placed inthe proper context though. For all we know AD might disband tomorrow, but the problem will still be there. So far neither PN nor MLp has expressed any real intention to work together towards a solution. I don;t think it;s in their interest right now.

  33. Jacques, ma nafx ghaliex il-posts tieghi qed jisparixxu. Naf li mhux censura imma hawn xi technical fault u qed ikolli nerga’ nittajpja kollox mill-bidu.

  34. Mela nerga’ niktibha ufffff :

    Periklu,

    hekk hu sieheb. Dik hija l-issue kollha!!! IL-MENTALITA`.

    Tridx nilghabu mhatra stil Austin Gatt li sa tnax il- sena ohra jkunu splodew 4t ikmamar dedikati u zewg toroq ohra?

  35. Back again from work.

    1. It’s not about Ad.
    2. It’s not about Ad.
    3. It’s not about Ad.

    Now Daphne, if whatever agenda you want to push depends on teaming up with so-called crop scientists and weeding out any remnant of a green party that should be licking its wounds rather than offending the people then be my guest. I will not help you in that though.

    Let me say it again. It’s not about AD. I am not AD. During the campaign I argued for the right of people to be allowed to choose AD if they believed in AD. That is something that is apparently beyond comprehension of the tribal politics of today. The mathematics was there – I said so as much as you and others – Vote for AD you could end up with Sant in Government. BUT I also said that it is a right that cannot be taken away – to vote AD: That right is still there and it still has a damocles sword hanging on it – whether it is AD or future Liberal Party or Social-Democrat or whatever.

    You speak of competence and Biology and Chemistry O’levels (incidentally I happen to have those). Right, should I shut you up from speaking of legal amendments to the constitution? I have studied both Constitutional and EU Constitutional Law. Jesus why do I even bother answering this kind of argument.

    As for equating greens with farmers and only farmers – that puts your amount of research on the issue into question. Ad or not… reducing the Green and Environmental questions to farming is naive to say the least. Where should I start? Waste? Polluition? Recycling? Alternative Energy? And this is coming from someone who is neither an AD supporter nor of the tree-hugging persuasion. So spare us the ridiculous I live in Bidnija so I am a farmer – leave it to the part-time farmers you seem to be happy to live with.

    The fact remains that you have still, since my dare, been unable to tackle the question of a huge fallacy and flaw in our Constitutional mechanisms – 16,000 votes can and will go to waste. All answers on this blog have tackled the issue from the point of view of alternattiva. I don’t care. How else can I spell it out?

    There is and there will continue to be a democratic deficit. I don’t need to APPEAL for discussion because the need has been felt by everyone except maybe you and the visitors to the Manuel Cuschieri Blue blog. Sure we will have different opinions and those who are interested in disrupting the agenda will continue to try to throw all those interested in change into one basket. Right now you disagree when I say that persons commenting on this blog do not reflect the opinions of the blog. Where do you want to get at Daphne? Say it.

    Another thing – you saw the eleection result – you expect MLP and AD to reform and react to the will of the people and yet you do not see how PN should too be revising its position with regard to the electorate.

  36. Who exactly are the lawyers without briefs Daphne? Are you pointing your finger at anyone in particular? Or is it just a generic slander which of course cannot be backed?

  37. Antoine Vella

    Don’t patronise me Raphael, I’m not a wise old man (well old maybe), I just have lived through more years than you.

    I know very well that there has been a gerrymandering execise but it did not succeed in repeating the 1981 perverse result because AD did not win a seat. Throughout the electoral campaign, all that AD was interested in was obtaining a seat, whatever the cost for the country.

    All talk of electoral reform was aimed at obtaining this flippin seat for Harry’s ego. At no time did any AD speaker attack the gerrymandering that had occurred. AD knew that the MLP representatives in the Electoral Commission had carried out an exercise to hijack the democratic process but no one ever spoke out clearly against it.

    No wonder that Harry is the MLP’s darling, as he boasted on Smash tv. Do you think people are fools? The MLP activists whe feted Harry and offered him drinks in their kazin were well aware of his role in helping their party win the elections.

    If Harry did not realise what he was doing, he’s even more koccut and skadut than I thought.

  38. I keep telling those darn AD lawyers to put on their underwear, but they just won;t listen.

  39. Antoine Vella Says:
    March 13, 2008 at 7:37 pm

    “If Harry did not realise what he was doing, he’s even more koccut and skadut than I thought.”

    Indeed, Harry is no Daniel Cohn-Bendit and no Joschka Fischer. Still, with Vassallo as surname, Harry is always free to do a Cassola.

  40. Antoine. AD was wrong. Its campaign based on coalition was wrong. Accepting to play the game when you know the rules are twisted is wrong. Can I spell it more clearly? Read back in my posts. Once the wool is lifted, come back and tell me if the fact that AD got its campaign wrong should impinge in any way on the need of reforming the gerrymandered system to ensure that in this day and age no vote goes to waste.

    And that is just the first step. Then we have to choose between a system that favours 50+1% governance or one that favours multi-party governance. Daphne claims to know where I am going (she’s a lady, they always get directions right). If she did knwo where I am going, and being the self-assumed palladin of democracy and stability she would have jumped on this side of the wagon long ago. But no… fighting for democracy stopped in the eighties. After that we handed government to mummy and daddy and might as well shut up.

    U halluna tridu.

  41. Antoine Vella

    Periklu, I wasn’t talking about your arguments. It’s you who’s pathetic.

  42. Antoine Vella Says:
    March 13, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    “Periklu, I wasn’t talking about your arguments. It’s you who’s pathetic.”

    And your tangible evidence, Sir?

  43. Jacques René Zammit Says:
    March 13, 2008 at 7:42 pm

    “AD was wrong. Its campaign based on coalition was wrong.”

    Exactly.

    Not only wrong, but extremely foolish, stupid and naive.

  44. Jacques I detect a note of defeatism in your last post. Can’t say I blame you. When people accuse of you of being an uncompsomising political zealot just for proposing a much-needed reform of the electoral system, you start wondering what the weather’s like in Kazakhstan…

  45. It’s not defeatism Raphael. It’s anger and frustration. Anger at the continuous attempts to sabotage a discussion that can be fruitful for everyone. Frustration that the language of Old Style politics is so difficult to break through. I did not say that AD got their campaign wrong today. I said it before the election. The election result should have been the biggest eye opener for everyone instead we have the usual fortresses – an AD representative claiming the people are “politikament injoranti” (Ralph Cassar on his blog) , a PN that does not seem to see a problem with wasted votes and a Labour party that is still far from being able to engage in the discussion. In the meantime the flag wavers, taunters and baiters are busy sabotaging the argument – and worse still, we allow ourselves to be waylaid. Kazakhstan you say?

  46. Antoine Vella

    Jacques, alright, I take your point that you are not an AD apologist,

    There is, however, no way that you can have a system where no vote gets wasted. Even the major parties waste some of their votes in every district. Do you know any country, any electoral system, where there is perfect proprotionality?

    We have had this system for donkey’s years and, when there was scope for ‘minor’ parties, they flourished. Even with the present (more or less) system, Ganado, Pellegrini, Stirckland, Ransley, Boffa and others managed to win seats in Parliament.

    This is something that proponents of the ‘third party’ cannot understand. There are only two parties in Parliament because that is what the Maltese electorate wants. All the rest is just an alibi for those who do refuse to admit their political shortcomings.

    AD-Greens was not born because there was a need for it. It started as a splinter group of the MLP when Mintoff and Abela were kicked out of their party. It had no particular ideology and no reason to exist except to provide an organisation for Mintoff-Abela.

    Eventually someone decided to re-invent AD as a Green party, but not because the grassroots were asking for it. It was a cynical political operation to camouflage the lack of raison d’etre of what had become a miscellaneous collection of disgruntled Nationalists led by two politikanti whose only ambition was to get back into the MLP.

    This is why AD-Greens is such an aritficiality and why it can never be anything but a vociferous pressure group (at best). It is NOT MLPN which is denying AD from obtaining a seat but the Maltese people.

  47. Apparently it rains a lot. But all immigrants are given five free energy saving light bulbs and there are no such things as VAT forms to be returned. What do you say? We can form a political pressure group and campaign to overthrow the droit de seigneur. It’ll be fun…

  48. Antoine Vella

    Periklu, I have no tangible evidence but a strong moral conviction. Never mind though, try to concentrate on the discussion.

  49. Thank you Antoine. The basic starting point here is avoiding wasted votes. We agree that any system potentially wastes votes but once we agree that the first basic suggestion is to create a threshold of 5% – if 16000 people choose a party surely you agree that they can be represented in parliament If the threshold is there then the votes cannot get wasted should they ever be there to be used. If it is not reached there is no harm done.

    The next step in the debate would be to see the issue of stable governance. I am sure that if we do not get lost in discussing AD’s qualities or shortcomings we can discuss the choice between compensating for one party to govern alone (I think aloud here… maybe so long as it has at least 41% of the vote?) or allow for the possibility of a multiparty system. That is the discussion I am hoping for.

  50. Antoine you may well have a point. But delving into a political party;s birth pangs will only take us to the black backdrop of the PN’s original logo. Besides, as some people are now angry and frustrated for trying to cope with precisely this kind of logic, let me spare Jacques the bother and remind you that the system in its present form is crying out for change regardless of the artificiality or otherwise of AD.

  51. Hmm tempting Raphael. But a friend of mine keeps singing songs about Jews being a problem in Kazakhstan. Something about throwing them in wells. I’m worried. My surname is of Jewish origin and I quite like the people though I am a goy.

  52. Antoine Vella Says:
    March 13, 2008 at 8:03 pm

    “Periklu, I have no tangible evidence but a strong moral conviction.”

    So do I, but my personal experience, which exceeds yours by far, has taught me not to be so rash and so discriminatory biased as you show yourself on this blog.

  53. Antoine Vella

    As far as I know, both PN and MLP are willing to accept the concept of a treshold. 5% seems a reasonable one but it is extremely difficult to achieve for a small party.

    Look at AD – all those years of work and all that media exposure and they hardly garner 1.5% of the vote. They will never get 5%.

    Moreover there are no discounts in politics. Any party, however well-meaning and/or small, should expect to be lambasted and attacked by the other parties. everybody uses the arguments which they see as most effective – corruption, efficiency, etc. This is not scare-mongering, it is the reality of a very competitive and tough environment.

    The first thing that a party has to do is convince people that they need it. As Daphne pointed out in one of her comments, this is just like selling any commercial product. Market forces are at work here, not ideologies.

    The truth is that, in the last few elections, the number of wasted votes was very small: barely 2% of the total. It shows that the present system is essentially sound and only needs some fine-tuning to avoid gerrymandering.

  54. discussion on electoral reform can not be divorced from the state of our democracy…gozipnn, smaller 8 person minister portfolio, a press that goes beyond informing/opining to actually change AD/MLP stances to fit their bill…the next move is for the NP to select MLP’s /AD’s leader (how about Giovanna Debono, our acting PM. to lead the MLP and JPO to lead AD?)

  55. I would agree that 5% is extremely difficult to achieve but it is that very difficulty that will act as an incentive to the small parties to polish up their act. That that possibility is there will be an act of political maturity by the country as a whole. When it comes to wasted vote under the current system I cannot dispute the facts that as it stands the figures show a low level of wasted votes. This does not however bring to evidence the fact that the “threat of a wasted vote” also had its effect and pragmatic voters who opted for one of the two parties who are protected by the current system cannot be counted and that tests such as the EP elections are not 100% proof of their willingness to switch in General Elections. Again. If the threshold is there then the proof of the pudding will be in the next election. Anything other than that is pure speculation. With the threshold in place we are just ensuring that the right of free choice of voters is respected.

    THEN we can discuss whether AD or any other party is prepared to face the next election and offers a reasonable choice for the people. As for scaremongering, whenever I referred to it I pointed at the abuse of the “wasted vote” argument to harass persons who genuinely wanted to choose AD. The harassment continues… but that is another story.

  56. Antoine Vella

    Raphael, the PN was born in the 19th century, long before fascism so, contrary to some myths, there is no connection between the black background and blackshirts.

    The system is not crying out for change – not for radical change at least. What makes you say that? There is no reoson to think that a perverse result would be produced unless the districts were tampered purposely, as they have been on more than one occasion.

    So a party with 4000 votes does not win a seat. Well, that would not change with a 5% treshold.

    To be represented in parliament a party has to persuade the electorate that they would be better off by voting for it. It has nothing to do with systems but with what a party stands for.

  57. Antoine, one can have many theories.

    How would the electorate react, if it knew that there were a 5% threshold at national level? Would the electorate be more daring to vote AD or any other third/fourth party?

    I agree that market forces are important as an adjuvant to political ideology during an election campaign and in the period between election campaigns.

  58. The real reason we cannot count the disillusioned and disenfranchised voters is Dr Alfred Sant.

    – and that is my personal opinion.

  59. As I type I am watching TVM streaming. Servizz specjali TVM – Hawn Wisq Karozzi. Promising guys promising. J’accuse has mentioned this fact hundreds of times. I hope this is a sign that this problem will be tackled. I remember that a small party currently being denigrated has a simple proposal that would be a good start – anyone who turns 18 and chooses not to get a driving license is entitled to the free use of Public Transport. Not enough alone… but hell… a good start.

  60. Antoine Vella Says:
    March 13, 2008 at 8:23 pm

    “So a party with 4000 votes does not win a seat. Well, that would not change with a 5% treshold.

    To be represented in parliament a party has to persuade the electorate that they would be better off by voting for it. It has nothing to do with systems but with what a party stands for.”

    I regard that as partly erroneous judgement.

  61. I agree with Antoine , Periklu. In an ideal democracy people are left free to vote for the party that persuades them that it deserves their vote. The mechanisms that choose which party garnered the most votes and should be represented in parliament should not impinge on this decision in any way.

  62. Antoine Vella

    Periklu

    “How would the electorate react, if it knew that there were a 5% threshold at national level? Would the electorate be more daring to vote AD or any other third/fourth party?”

    They would not change their voting pattern just becuase of a treshold. Look at this election. What would have been the benefit for the man in the street had an AD or AN politician won a seat.

    Act as control over the other parties? In my opinion this possibility actually scared off voters from AD. People choose a government and a Prime Minister and they do not want this PM to be checked and controlled by a single individual MP. That is too much power in the hands of a single person who might have only a small percetnage of votes.

    A party should win a seat in parliament to try and carry out its electoral programme not in order to control the other parties.

    (have to go, sorry)

  63. Jacques, you might have noted that I said “partly erroneous”.

    I believe that the mechanisms of a system do influence a voter’s psychology, even if that is at sub-conscious level.

    In other words, if an electorate would be conscious of a 5% threshold, then, a given party could achieve more than 4,000 votes, provided that same party has had excellent market forces combined with its (accepted) political agenda.

  64. Antoine are you the Nationalist councillor who once said EU Commissioner Wallstrom was arrogant because she said that spring hunting should be banned in Malta as from EU accession or after a short transitional period? Are you the only so-called “environmentalist” who thought the Verdala golf course was not a bad idea? (Despite the huge amount of land this would take up – and the limited water supplies we have in Malta). Just to know what you’re about – again no cruel labelling.

    I know this blog is not about AD but a forum for the exchange of ideas, but it’s quite odd to see that it is being labelled as the least green party when most of the PN’s environmental initiatives were lifted from its energy policy paper (published on its website in 2007). Even the energy-saving light bulbs thing was lifted from there. So please get real – just because a PN councillor who thinks Anglu Xuereb’s golf course was a swell idea is not in the ranks of the green party it does not detract one jot from AD’s green credentials

  65. Periklu is right to say that the mechanisms of a system influence a voter’s psychology. Many people feel that voting for a party which needs to obtain a very high percentage of votes in one district might result in their vote being “wasted” (in the sense that if this high treshold is not reached, no one from their party will be elected) so they give up and vote for another major party so that their vote will not be wasted. The major parties play upon this fear and keep harping on about wasted votes.
    Introducing a reasonable national treshold may contribute to levelling out the playing field. In that scenario a minor party will have to prove itself but will not be hampered by the discriminatory electoral system.

  66. I know this blog is not about AD but a forum for the exchange of ideas, but it’s quite odd to see that it is being labelled as the least green party when most of the PN’s environmental initiatives were lifted from its energy policy paper (published on its website in 2007). Even the energy-saving light bulbs thing was lifted from there. So please get real

    Distributing energy-saving light bulbs has been the norm for years in many European countries but, of course, the Nationalists pilfered the idea from the Greens …

    And Government published a Draft Energy Policy in 2006 but, of course, we did not really see the light (energy-efficient from an alternative source) until the Greens spoke on the subject.

  67. Needless to say, the government subsidises all solar panels one decides to install, so you get a LM150 rebate on your electricity bill, plus (and im not sure of this) such panels are tax free. But of course, no one mentions it.

  68. Hi Fausto
    Thanks for pasting the link to the Draft Energy Policy. Several good proposals though I think I might have missed the one about the energy-saving bulbs. No matter, maybe the Nationalists haven’t lifted this measure from the Greens but from the other European countries which have been doing so for ages….which begs the question of why they haven’t lifted it before? Better late than never in any case.

  69. Jacques: ‘choosing between a system that favours 50% +1 and a system that favours multi-party governance’ – how did you arrive at the conclusion that these are the only two acceptable alternatives? Nowhere in the world is there a country where governments get in on 50% + 1 of the vote, except Malta. On the other hand, there are plenty of governments that are based on a relative majority – Britain’s, for example. Do you imagine that Tony Blair had 50% plus of the vote when he won three times in a row?

    You mentioned somewhere that you ‘dared’ me to explain something. Sorry, but I hadn’t noticed. Also, after the age of 10 I ceased to accept dares. I am not going into long-winded explanations of things that should be obvious to all sensible people because (1) I am self-employed and so cannot comment on blogs while being paid by the tax-payer, and (2) I have had occasion to remark before that I am bored by endless ruminations of this nature.

    The only sort of electoral reform in which I am interested is a reform of the boundaries to avoid a repeat of what we went through last Sunday. I am not interested in fighting for electoral reform that will give seats to the small parties, because I don’t give a damn about the small parties – and that includes AD, as well as AN, IE, AP and next year’s crop of lunatics.

  70. We thought you cared.

  71. Glad you got that off your chest Daphne. Now if you don’t mind there are people who would discuss this issue. To you it’s navel gazing… well and good. Seeing as you have an unchangeable position on the matter I guess it’s useless debating with you on the issue. The day we decide to discuss how to foreclose the electoral system in order to ensure that only two parties are represented ad aeternum I’ll be happy to hear your contribution. Thanks again.

    And oh. I am employed by the ECJ – and until now all my work has been done and it seems to be more than satisfactory – funny, that is what I am paid for. I will send you the link to the latest case I worked on (essentially drafted) which should be out on 17th April. I blog during pauses and on evenings at home. It would be great to see whose money you are wasting when you decide to blog or comment. On the other hand don’t bother answering. It’s a petty argument anyway… of the “you’re comfortably ensonced in Luxembourg” type. We’re sort of getting bored of them.

    As I said. You don’t think this discussion is fruitful? Fine. Then stick to chickens, peacocks and whatever winged creature tickles your fancy. The fine art of reading electoral signs I guess. Any news from Labour? What are the signs like… who’s the next bird to have his feathers picked?

  72. Claire: a little lesson in electoral psychology from one of the experts (sorry, I don’t want to rub your nose in it, but you ask for it) –

    People here vote for a government, so anything that doesn’t get them a government is considered a wasted vote, even if it is a vote for the MLP. Even if the electoral system were to be reformed and re-reformed, and reformed again, and made to jump through hoops and dance pirouettes in order to make it perfectly possible for AD to get itself a seat, people still won’t rush to vote AD because there is no way on earth that this vote will get them what they want: their interests represented by the governing party. At some level, AD appears to have understood this intuitively, which explains the hard-sell on coalition (‘vote for us and you will see us in government’).

    98% of the Maltese electorate flocks behind the MLP and the PN because those are the two parties that can form governments.

    The real reason people here don’t vote for small parties is precisely this: small parties can’t form a government, and people want to vote for a government. Almost no one (and 4,000 people out of an electorate of 300,000 is no one) is interested in voting for a party whose highest hope is a single seat – one miserly MP yapping on the sidelines.

  73. Dion Borg – why exactly does one have to ‘think outside the MLPN mindset’ to be free? I am one of the freest people in this country, vote PN, and have every intention of doing so again.

  74. 98%? one miserly MP? expert in electoral psychology? the mind is made to jump through hoops and dance pirhouettes…

  75. Raphael, the system is NOT crying out for change. You and a few others are crying out for change. No reform of the electoral system is going to make people rush to vote AD, AN or IE. See my other post on voter psychology, above.

    As for Jacques’ suggestion of a threshold of 41%, below which a party cannot get into government – I must pause and clear my throat. If 41% is the highest party-vote, then we must conclude (naturally) that the ‘other’ party got no more than 40.9%. So where did the other 18% go – to AD? AD gets half as many votes as PN and MLP? I don’t think so.

  76. Never ceases to amaze me how incapable some people are of projecting into the future. When the same people claim to be experts in philosophy, history and electoral psychology you really start wondering about their other claims too, The system needs to be changed because it is condemning future generations to the same straitjacket they are wearing themselves. But Jacques is right, This is more tiring than it is worth

  77. Jacques, when you say that people should be offered ‘a reasonable choice’, what exactly do you mean? People don’t want a reasonable choice of parties. They want a reasonable choice of governments. It takes a very particular kind of person (you are one of them, so I won’t be offensive) to be indifferent to the outcome in government terms when voting. When most people vote, they vote for a government, not for an ideology.

  78. Periklu – no, no and no again. A 5% threshold would not encourage people to vote AD, for the simple reason that a party with 5% of the vote can’t get into government. Let me repeat this ad nauseam: people vote for governments, not for parties. The flipside is that they might also vote AGAINST governments as well as for them, and that’s when third parties tend to collect. But hark at this: last Saturday, those who didn’t want to vote for or against a government didn’t even bother to vote AD. They just stayed home. By the way, I apologise for this series of posts, one after the other. But I can only pop in at this time after I’ve done my work for the day, so I have a lot to catch up on.

  79. Claire, AD has no green credentials because it has no green credentials, full stop. The fact that I might wake up one morning and decide to call myself a billionaire will not make me one. The fact that AD woke up one morning a few years ago and decided to rebrand itself as the Green Party does not make it the authority on environmental politics. Who are AD’s environmental experts? A couple of lawyers without briefs? Carmel Cacopardo? Who?

  80. Today Simon Busuttil wrote “There is no doubt, for instance, that AD has managed to put the environment at the very top of the PN’s political agenda”. That’s from the MEP who got the most Nationalist votes and one who Daphne has consistently praised. Maybe he was just trying to be nice?
    – Who are the environmental experts behind AD? Well the people who have Masters degrees in biology, sciences and chemistry, the engineers, the agricultural experts (not you Antoine – nobody is saying you’re a green activist) to begin with. Then there are architects too. Carmel Cacopardo is very well qualified in planning law (the PN government thought so too – he worked within the office of the MEPA auditor). He’s written a book about eco-taxation which is a very sound critique of the way the tax was introduced. And legal qualifications are no bar to knowing a thing or two about the environment or aspects of it. My thesis was about planning law. Other dissertations are about legislation regarding waste/adherence to EU environmental directives/the problem of enforcing certain regulations across borders/the dumping of hazardous materials/ways of prosecuting environmental crimes. It’s the lawyers with or without briefs that deal with this sort of stuff.
    – While we’re on the subject of green credentials why don’t we have a look at the PN’s lack of them (the environmental deficit Gonzi spoke about). Which government has had the most wasteful land use policy? Which government has pursued its golf course obsession? which government has done zilch about the depletion of the aquifier? which government has been foot-dragging about spring hunting? which government has allowed MEPA to become the most discredited authority on its watch? I could go on.

  81. Good Morning Daphne, Good Morning J’accuse,

    Daphne Says:
    March 14, 2008 at 1:36 am

    “Periklu – no, no and no again. A 5% threshold would not encourage people to vote AD, for the simple reason that a party with 5% of the vote can’t get into government. Let me repeat this ad nauseam: people vote for governments, not for parties. The flipside is that they might also vote AGAINST governments as well as for them, and that’s when third parties tend to collect.”

    Daphne, electoral psychology, and indeed psychology in general, should not be one-sided, or biased.

    Yesterday evening, at 19.17h, I finished a post by writing that “Maltese political mentality would also have played a decisive role” with regard to an eventual political crisis caused by election of any small party to parliament .

    Daphne, you argue that “people vote for governments, not for parties”. It could be so in Malta on grounds of contemporary Maltese political mentality.

    However, an individual in a politically educated electorate should be well advised to vote for a political party, which offers a reasonable and practicable agenda that can fit the individual’s personal tastes.

    One is also free to preach ad nauseam that a politically mature individual should in first instance vote for an agenda and not for a government.

    A real functioning liberal democracy should tolerate the fact that votes “may go lost” because the particular voters opted for a party other than the “established” major parties.

    Daphne, I obviously cannot offer any kind of guarantee that a 5% national threshold would encourage people to vote for a small party, and please note that I never refer to AD or to AN or to any other peacock.

    However, I can also not ex cathedra exclude the fact that a 5% national threshold could induce a change (temporary or otherwise) in voting psychology.

    A small political party, which could garner 5% of total valid votes, should never expect to be in government. The small party could however, under particular circumstances, contribute in some way to a stable coalition.

    My personal observations during the recent electoral campaign lead me to believe that Malta’s AD made a big mess of their cause. Malta’s AD committed political suicide without even noticing that it was in fatal agony. A properly conducted political post-mortem should yield a multifactorial aetiology.

    Finally, I am quite amused to note that a party wins more direct seats than the party, which obtains 0.5% more of votes (1,500+ votes). As an independent observer, I am also amused by the fact that Malta’s constitution retrospectively rewards the 1.500+ votes with an extra four parliamentary seats. Simple arithmetic would express that as an easter discount offer of a seat in parliament for only 300+ votes per seat.

    Justitia omnibus lex scripta est.

  82. I agree with Daphne that it is not our electoral system that keeps small parties from coming anywhere close to electing an MP.

    Electorates have their own particularities. This week’s European Voice carried a comment on the Times (of Malta) claiming “voter apathy” with 93% turnout and no compulsory voting. Is that high turnout the result of our electoral system? Surely not, it is not easier to vote in Malta than in other countries. The Maltese just vote that way.

    Same goes for voting for a smaller party. Ask yourselves: why is it that in Malta more than 98% vote for the two main parties and in the UK, where the system is much, much more disadvantageous to smaller parties the Liberal Democrats consistently score around 20%?

    Finally, to those who note that the Greens may have no MPs but still influence Government agenda let me remind you that there is a name for organisations like that. They’re called “pressure groups”.

  83. Daphne Says:
    March 14, 2008 at 1:31 am

    “People don’t want a reasonable choice of parties. They want a reasonable choice of governments. ……. When most people vote, they vote for a government, not for an ideology”.

    Daphne, that could be the case in some countries, of which Malta could be one.

    Would you wish to deny that countries exist, where people vote for an agenda/ideology?

    Malta seems to be unique, as so many Maltese individuals have so much to lose with every respective change of government.

    If I allow myself an early morning liberty to speculate, then I would venture to say that, among all posters on this blog, Jacques would be the best one off after elections in Malta, as he (Jacques) probably correctly timed, and executed, the steps for his future, eminently independent of our home country.

  84. Fausto Majistral Says:
    March 14, 2008 at 7:12 am

    [Finally, to those who note that the Greens may have no MPs but still influence Government agenda let me remind you that there is a name for organisations like that. They’re called “pressure groups”.]

    A real exisiting democracy cannot, should not, prevent a “pressure group” from transforming itself, progressing itself, transcoding itself into a political party.

  85. Antoine Vella

    Claire –
    “Antoine are you the Nationalist councillor who once said EU Commissioner Wallstrom was arrogant because she said that spring hunting should be banned in Malta as from EU accession or after a short transitional period?”

    No, that must have been someone else. I am the PN councillor (ex- now) who criticised Wallstrom for saying that there would be NO transitional period (which turned out to be untrue) and for telling reporters before she had even told the Maltese government.

    The negotiations on the Environment chapter had not even been opened yet and there she was, already telling the media what was going to be the outcome. Her blabbering put at risk the pro-EU campaign and, as someone says, I have no regrets about it.

    I was also the person who stood up to AD ‘moral thugs’ during various MEPA meetings on the Verdala golf course. On one occasion, in which you weren’t present I sat right in the middle of a large bunch of AD fundamentalists (including Seatless Harry) and spoke out against them, dismantling all their arguments as I had done in the papers.

    It is true that my words provoked them (much as I have done here with you and your chums) but I was heckled, interrupted, bullied, threatened and physically manhandled until I had the microphone snatched away from my hand by an AD activist to stop me from speaking, prompting the police to intervene.

    On that afternoon in Rabat, AD lost not only its green credentials but its democratic ones as well.

    AD activists are the moral heirs of the Zwieten Mintoffjani. It is an honourable duty to resist them and a pleasure to see them defeated and in disarray as they are at present. May they long continue to not flourish.

  86. Antoine Vella

    Periklu Says:
    March 14, 2008 at 7:28 am

    “A real exisiting democracy cannot, should not, prevent a “pressure group” from transforming itself, progressing itself, transcoding itself into a political party.”

    Nobody is stopping AD from being a political party just as no one has prevented Emy Bezzina, Norman Lowell, Tal-farfett, Josie Muscat and the Gozo party.

    Becoming a political party does not give you an automatic right to win a parliamentary seat, however.

    Periklu Says:
    March 14, 2008 at 6:17 am

    “As an independent observer, I am also amused by the fact that Malta’s constitution retrospectively rewards the 1.500+ votes with an extra four parliamentary seats.”

    There’s nothing amusing about this fact. The constitutional amendement was forced upon the MLP government after a long, fiercely intense and sometimes bloody campaign following the 1981 perverse result.

    There were huge mass meetings and demonstrations every 2-3 weeks for a year and a half. Nationalists got beaten up, subjected to every kind of harassment, arrested and, in at least one occasion, killed by the police.

    The founders of AD were in the middle of all this, on the side of the persecutors. No wonder AD has such a record of intolerance and moral violence.

    The number of seats awarded is directly proportional to the extent of gerrymandering carried out before the elections. It is ironic – and has not been picked up by anyone in this blog/comments – that gerrymandering occurred in favour of the MLP during a PN administration.

  87. “It is ironic – and has not been picked up by anyone in this blog/comments – that gerrymandering occurred in favour of the MLP during a PN administration”.

    Maybe that is one of the reasons why some of us have this “crazy” idea about the number of seats being proportional to the percentage of votes cast for a party. And I’m not saying this because it might elect an AD candidate. It might not.

  88. Antoine Vella

    Raphael Says:
    March 14, 2008 at 1:27 am

    “The system needs to be changed because it is condemning future generations to the same straitjacket they are wearing themselves. ”

    The straitjacket exists only in your mind Raphael. The main political parties are much freer and more amenable to change than you seem to be.

    The PN of today has kept the principles but is totally different from that of 1987. Both parties, with all their faults, are alive and vibrant, reacting to the situation and adapting themselves to meet the challenges of the times.

    By comparison, AD is stagnant and repetitive. Its leader is the longest-serving one at present and his rizenja-farsa will not help to reform and renew the party.

    Raphael Says:
    March 14, 2008 at 1:27 am

    “But Jacques is right, This is more tiring than it is worth”

    What you mean is that you can find no arguments to dispute what is being said.

  89. Antoine,

    I strive to be polite and well-mannered.

    I do not wish to contradict factual Maltese history but I still find amusement in various aspects of Maltese socio-politology, especially when a lecturing member of the UOM, who is probably less experienced than I am, wishes to advise me that

    “becoming a political party does not give you an automatic right to win a parliamentary seat, however”.

    Antoine, decency prevents me from expressing my momentary thoughts.

  90. Antoine Vella Says:
    March 14, 2008 at 8:21 am

    “Raphael Says:
    March 14, 2008 at 1:27 am

    “The system needs to be changed because it is condemning future generations to the same straitjacket they are wearing themselves. ”

    The straitjacket exists only in your mind Raphael. The main political parties are much freer and more amenable to change than you seem to be.”

    Antoine,

    I have no relation at all to/with Raphael and hence no special reason to stand up in defence of him.

    I would go one step further than Raphael. I would not only refer to “political straightjackets”. I would also wish to introduce the concept of “political incest”, which affects both present major parties in Malta.

    Antoine, my family is a blue-red hybrid, as are many other families in Malta. God was gracious enough to offer me the possibility to transcode to independence.

  91. As a social movement, AD had a role to play in Maltese politics. As is the case with Green Parties across Europe, this has nothing to do with qualifications in biology and relations with environmental NGOs. The latter have their own identity and are in no way obliged to support Green Parties. And the natural sciences do not teach people political strategy.

    The question is, what role should AD take?

    I wish to bring the British Green Party into the equation. It does well in European and local elections (it is represented at EP and LC level), but fails absmally in general elections (it is not represented). Though having a strong presence in British politics, it never delves into larger-than-life discourse of government coalitions and many parliamentary seats.

    I for one, have been believing for quite some time, that AD should involve itself in a long political march, rather than an impulsive strategy. Politics is not a wishlist but is deeply related to the particular political, cultural, ideological and economic realities of a particular society. Voters are not brainless idiots, but weigh things out before voting. And yes, in general elections, it is not surprising that 98% of the electorate vote for governments and stability. A look at value surveys in Malta (which have been carried out since the 1980s, and which form part of the worldvaluesurvey), easily confirms the value priorities of Maltese people.

    AD should consolidate its local council and european parliamentary results. This in itself is very difficult, and nothing is to be taken for granted! Being an AD councillor myself (the only one who got elected twice in a row), I can assure everyone that this requires alot of hard work, and involves strategies which are very different from the type of strategy used by AD for this general election.

    AD had a wrong strategy for this general election. Period. I have been saying this for a long time, yet I did not want to do AD harm by going public. I wish a positive future for AD, yet this requires a sober and realistic analysis and also ideological/strategic changes. Unrealistic expectations can only result in deep disillusionment.

    Apparently Jacques agrees with me re AD’s wrong strategy for this general election.

  92. OOPS MISTAKE – the first sentence above should read

    ‘As a social movement, AD HAS a role to play in Maltese politics’.

    (Not a freudian slip, otherwise I wouldn’t be wasting my time wishing AD a positive future 🙂 )

  93. Victor Laiviera

    What, in your opinion, is the significance of the fact that we now have a “Parl. Sec, for Public Dialogeu and Information”?

    Is is a case of “Welcome back, Dr Goebbels – all is forgiven!”?

  94. Michael Briguglio Says:
    March 14, 2008 at 8:31 am

    “Apparently Jacques agrees with me re AD’s wrong strategy for this general election”.

    Mr. Briguglio, my morning remark at 06.17h was following:

    My personal observations during the recent electoral campaign lead me to believe that Malta’s AD made a big mess of their cause. Malta’s AD committed political suicide without even noticing that it was in fatal agony. A properly conducted political post-mortem should yield a multifactorial aetiology.

  95. Antoine Vella

    Michael Briguglio –

    Well, you will now have a chance to contest the post of party leader. Your propositions seem much more realistic than the ones followed by AD at present and they might even help overcome its image of a ‘Tal-pepe’ party

    Periklu Says:
    March 14, 2008 at 8:29 am

    “Antoine, my family is a blue-red hybrid, as are many other families in Malta. God was gracious enough to offer me the possibility to transcode to independence.”

    Mine is totally red and I became blue in 1971 when I developed a visceral antipathy to a certain Perit.

    It is often forgotten but Socialist thuggery already existed back in 1971 and I remember several ‘young Socialists’ coming to our house after PN meetings in the
    early seventies and gleefully boasting how many bottles and stones they had thrown at the Nats.

    Some of these young Socialists later became MPs and ministers – one of them is still in Parliament today.

  96. Victor Laiviera Says:
    March 14, 2008 at 8:36 am

    [What, in your opinion, is the significance of the fact that we now have a “Parl. Sec, for Public Dialogeu and Information”?

    Is is a case of “Welcome back, Dr Goebbels – all is forgiven!”?]

    Mr. Laiviera,

    I have a feeling that you will be pleased to hear more about JPO et al. What could be better than official info from the O.P.M.?

    Furthermore, Clyde has been acting as PRO for Mater Dei and he might be instrumental in caching future running costs for the free health services pertaining to Malta.

  97. Excusez moi,

    Antoine Vella and Victor Laiviera,

    Would, could, you two gentlemen consider building a tandem?

  98. In this thread, some are wasting a huge amount energy striving to reason with people who already know who they’ll vote for in five, ten, or fifteen years time. You hear all kinds of reasons, including “fil-50s Mintoff ghamel hafna gid” and “tani xeba wiehed pulizija laburist fis-77.” Why bother? Do yourselves a favour, ignore their posts, and focus on conversing with undecided people instead.

  99. David Friggieri

    Quite frankly I don’t know why we keep going round and round in circles about this third party issue. It’s fairly clear to me. In the 2004 MEP elections, 23,000 individuals put their faith in a chap called Arnold Cassola. A man whose sartorial tastes may leave much to be desired (Daphne, for one, has made it fairly clear that he won’t be accompanying her to that glitzy vernissage off Place Vendome), but a politician nonetheless. The writing was on the wall way back then for the PN, the MLP and whoever else wanted to listen in: 23,000 votes in Maltese terms is a tsunami of votes. On a normal day in cliffhanger Malta, that’s about 4 swing votes. Even if you halve that number (to satisfy the Fausto’s of this world who will say ‘Oh, but that was just an MEP election!’) it’s still significant in photo-finish land: two crucial swing votes.

    So what do PN (aided and abetted by the MLP) do? They sense a threat and they act accordingly 1) they change the rules to make the threat less threatening and 2) after making the system less favourable for third voices they unleash their intellectual terrorists to a) scare potential third-voice voters into thinking that it’s their fault if Sant gets in and b) to antagonize anyone who dares raise their voice in protest.

    Any talk about voters ‘simply not wanting AD’, ‘market forces’ and ‘electoral psychology’ is by the by. Who ‘simply doesn’t want AD’? Lots of people. But lots of people apparently do.

    Focus guys. It’s going to be an uphill struggle but far from impossible.

  100. It seems impossible to get any form of discussion going about the electoral system without Antoine Vella turning the subject back to AD. That is exactly what i was referring to as a straitjacket. The inability to see beyond the extremity of one’s nose.

  101. Antoine Vella

    Keith Chircop Says:
    March 14, 2008 at 9:53 am

    “Do yourselves a favour, ignore their posts, and focus on conversing with undecided people instead.”

    If they had to do that they would have to ignore your posts too because you are as set in your ideas as I am.

    David Friggieri Says:
    March 14, 2008 at 10:16 am

    “1) they change the rules to make the threat less threatening”

    Could you possibly give us a list of all the rules which were changed?

    David Friggieri Says:
    March 14, 2008 at 10:16 am

    “b) to antagonize anyone who dares raise their voice in protest.”

    I don’t think the parties wanted to antagonize anyone as that would result in a loss of votes. I think what you mean is that the parties rebutted the arguments of those who “dared raise their voice in protest”.

    That is something that AD also does very strongly and I, for one, know something about it (read an earlier post of mine if you will).

    David Friggieri Says:
    March 14, 2008 at 10:16 am

    “Who ’simply doesn’t want AD’? Lots of people. But lots of people apparently do.”

    When there are enough people to want them they will get a seat, dont worry.

    Raphael Says:
    March 14, 2008 at 11:26 am

    “It seems impossible to get any form of discussion going about the electoral system without Antoine Vella turning the subject back to AD.”

    It is inevitable to talk about AD because this is the situation we have in Malta. If we do not refer to actual circumstances, parties and people we will be carrying out a sterile theoretical discussion completely cut off from reality.

    At any rate, Raphael you are prejudiced and unable to carry out a proper discussion because it is not just me who refers constantly to AD. Look at the post which precedes yours, for starters.

  102. Antoine Vella

    Periklu Says:
    March 14, 2008 at 8:57 am

    Excusez moi,

    Antoine Vella and Victor Laiviera,

    Would, could, you two gentlemen consider building a tandem?

    No

  103. Antoine, I voted for PN in 2003, and for AD last Saturday. It didn’t cross my mind to vote MLP because I don’t like Sant. I didn’t consider AN because I don’t think they went into politics for the right reasons. Not everyone chooses a party for life, as you did way back when.

    Maybe I should listen to my earlier advice and ignore you.

  104. “It is inevitable to talk about AD because this is the situation we have in Malta.”

    yes, that is the situation as it is TODAY. it’s just that some of us happen capable of using today’s reality to extrapolate tomorrow’s possibilities. To be honest it isn’t even that difficult. You just need a brain, that’s all.

    And if I’m prejudiced, well, we need a whole new word to describe a man who happily dismisses all who disagree with him as “pathetic”, “koccut” and.. what were the other insults? Can;t be arsed to scroll back and check…

  105. Missing phrase alert:

    above post should read *happen TO BE capable*

  106. Antoine Vella

    Keith Chircop Says:
    March 14, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    “Maybe I should listen to my earlier advice and ignore you.”

    Yes, I suppose you could. Just as you could ignore the entire Maltese electorate (bar 1%) and dismiss them as a hopeless case.

    Is this how you propose to get 16 thousand votes for AD? Instead of asking yourself whether your debating skills are effective, you are blaming me for not wanting to listen.

    Welcome to the world Keith. Do you think that everyone is hanging upon every word you utter so that you may open our minds? Your attitude shows how inexperienced you are in debates of this sort – you’ve never faced real opposition have you?

    Raphael Says:
    March 14, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    “And if I’m prejudiced, well, we need a whole new word to describe a man who happily dismisses all who disagree with him as “pathetic”, “koccut” and.. what were the other insults? Can;t be arsed to scroll back and check…”

    Koccut is a buzz word that Sant liked to use and I was making fun of him when I used it. I only described periklu as pathetic but perhaps I should also have used it for you, given the levl of your latest post

    Read what I said to Keith, Raphael and learn to be patient because you are going to have many bitter disappointments if you continue along this path.

    You do NOT represent an intellectual elite. You are NOT more intelligent than the average Maltese voter. You do NOT have a wider political vision that the supporters of PN and MLP. You do NOT have a better brain or better qualities than the rest of us.

    Learn some humility Rafel and when you look at the PN (or MLP if you prefer) remember that this is a party that has received the support of half the Maltese nation for over 25 years.

    If you think you know better than everybody else and look down on the thousands and thousands of people who vote MLPN then……well, you are an even bigger fool than I thought.

  107. Antoine,

    I am not trying to get votes for any party. I don’t think a message board would be a suitable place to do that either.

    And you got it ass-backwards… I don’t want you to listen to me. I have no interest in debating with a staunch, flag-waving supporter of a party. Get it?

  108. Curious. The only logical conclusion from the above is that voting PN and MLp is a token of intelligence, and everything else just sheer stupidity. As if intelligence were some form of collective quality that can be measured in the number of voters who consistently vote for the same party. It seems also that you are incapable of actually arguing without resorting to insults. Another surefire sign of intelligence, no doubt. Personally I am beginning to think it is a good deal wiser to be foolish.

  109. Raphael Says:
    March 14, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    “Personally I am beginning to think it is a good deal wiser to be foolish”.

    Try it. It is quite healthy to be foolish.

    The uncomfortable side of deliberate folly, which requires a degree of wisdom (and intelligence), is the peril (oh my God) that one be classified as pathetic by Antoine and his kind.

  110. @David

    So what do PN (aided and abetted by the MLP) do? They sense a threat and they act accordingly 1) they change the rules to make the threat less threatening and 2) after making the system less favourable for third voices they unleash their intellectual terrorists to a) scare potential third-voice voters into thinking that it’s their fault if Sant gets in and b) to antagonize anyone who dares raise their voice in protest.

    They don’t need to. Here’s Harry Vassallo in today’s Times:

    On Sunday morning, on my way to the counting hall, I stopped in the square in Naxxar. A parking place presented itself miraculously across the road from the MLP club. I was hoping for a moment’s quiet in the deserted church before I walked into the counting hall. All the church doors were shut tight.

    It took just a moment to walk back around the church to my car but the crowd was now waiting for me. I could not refuse their invitation to a drink at the bar. They too were warm, loving and sincere. If anyone there took a picture, I want a copy. I stood with my back to the bar while my hand was pumped during Labour’s brief foretaste of victory. It was surreal but beautiful.

  111. David Friggieri – you haven’t been listening to a single thing I’ve said here. Voter motivation in an MEP or local council election is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT TO VOTER MOTIVATION IN A GENERAL ELECTION. In the latter, people vote for a party that can form a government, or to punish a party that has been in government.They are not interested in voting for a party that can get a few seats at best. They want the party they vote for to be in government. That’s why they rush out to vote for it, go to mass meetings, persuade others, spend days in tension, etc. It’s pointless your comparing this situation to ‘other countries’, as though other countries are somehow the pinnacle of achievement. In Malta, the government touches your life every day. We are the size of a town, and our government is like the council. Of course we care who is in government! And of course we use our vote to shape the government as we want it.

  112. Something else: what exactly is the benefit to voters if they vote AD? I’m going to bring up the principles of marketing again, I’m afraid. If you want to sell your product in a crowded market, you must have a unique selling point (USP). What is AD’s USP? AD has the reverse of a unique selling point: it is the party that CAN”T get into government, which makes voting for it pointless from a Maltese perspective (and Periklu, I am only talking about Malta here, but I don’t feel the need to point it out each and every time). In its pre-electoral hard-sell, AD – exactly like the Labour Party – failed to explain to us why a vote for AD would be a good thing for us. They only told us why it would be a good thing for them. I don’t blame them for this omission – like Labour, they had nothing to sell us that was better than what this government is already serving up.

  113. Keith Chircop – remind me not to call on you when I have a problem that needs solving. “I voted PN in 2003 and AD last Saturday – it didn’t occur to me to vote MLP because I don’t like Sant.” Smart thinking, Keith – you don’t vote MLP because you don’t like Sant, and then you go and vote for AD to help raise the odds of getting Sant. You’re not going to get far in chess or the military.

  114. Daphne Says:
    March 14, 2008 at 8:22 pm

    “In Malta, the government touches your life every day. We are the size of a town, and our government is like the council”.

    Exactly, with all advantages and disadvantages.

    A question could be whether the policy making politicians in the “leading” EU member countries also look upon Malta as a small city (town).

  115. Daphne Says:
    March 14, 2008 at 8:31 pm

    “Keith Chircop – remind me not to call on you when I have a problem that needs solving. “I voted PN in 2003 and AD last Saturday – it didn’t occur to me to vote MLP because I don’t like Sant.” Smart thinking, Keith – you don’t vote MLP because you don’t like Sant, and then you go and vote for AD to help raise the odds of getting Sant. You’re not going to get far in chess or the military”.

    I guess that Keith rather wishes to solve Malta’s long term problems as long as the prophecy for 2012 does not hold.

  116. Keith Chircop – you’re not interested in debating with staunch, flag-waving supporters of political parties. Oh, so what are all the people writing in favour of AD here, then? Not staunch? They’re wishy-washy? I think you’ll find that the vast majority of Maltese are staunch supporters of one party or another, and those who aren’t – well, you don’t want to know about them. They’re the ones who think their vote is there to make sure they don’t get a car-park in their backyard, even if it means sending the country down the plughole. My first post on this blog was the enjoinder to you and others here to grow up. I still think you need to do that. I find it hard to believe that any of you are capable of carrying responsibility for anyone else in your lives, and I’m willing to place a bet that none of you do because the very prospect frightens the life out of you. And if you think there’s no link between this attitude in your personal life and your political opinions – take it from me, there is.

  117. Daphne,

    Smart thinking, Keith – you don’t vote MLP because you don’t like Sant, and then you go and vote for AD to help raise the odds of getting Sant.

    I forgot to mention I had already decided I wasn’t voting PN.

    I think you’ll find that the vast majority of Maltese are staunch supporters of one party or another, and those who aren’t – well, you don’t want to know about them. They’re the ones who think their vote is there to make sure they don’t get a car-park in their backyard, even if it means sending the country down the plughole.

    So in your opinion, a Maltese person has to be either be a staunch supporter of some party, or one of those. I disagree.

  118. “David Friggieri – you haven’t been listening to a single thing I’ve said here.”

    WHAT A SURPRISE. I wonder why that is. Honestly. Could it perchance be that David has a limited attention span? Is he partially or totally deaf? David, if you need any help getting over your inability to listen to endlessly repeated meaningless CRAP, do let us know. I’m sure we can scrape together enough to get you a hearing aid or something. Until then, good night boys and girls. i am off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of Marsaxlokk…

  119. Raphael, now that her favourite target resigned, she had to find someone new to spew her “endlessly repeated meaningless crap” at. I guess she chose the jaccuse blog. Aren’t you flattered?

  120. Antoine Vella

    David Friggieri Says:
    March 14, 2008 at 10:16 am

    “Focus guys. It’s going to be an uphill struggle but far from impossible.!

    No David, It IS impossible because you and your friends are more interested in trading insults than persuading people.

    David – Raphael – Keith – Periklu

    Between the four of you, you have not put forward one single cogent argument to try and persuade me that your opinion is better than mine.

    I’m now too old to wave flags but am certainly a staunch supporter of the PN and people like you are my party’s greatest allies. Whenever I’m angry or disappointed at something it has done, I always find someone like you (or Alfred Sant) to remind me that, with all its undeniably numerous faults, the PN is still the best choice for Malta.

  121. Jacques, may I ask you champions of the virtues of a third party in parliament explain why in principle you see a two-party system as being deficient in its true representation of the electorate and why you then conclude that a multi-party system (whereby the parties who are not even capable of electing one seat are given a leg-up in the form of a national quota) is a better form of governance. It is not at all clear to me or maybe I don’t get it but one more attempt please.

    On what basis should a small party be given a handicap to get into parliament? If it is not popular enough to have one of its candidates get a quota from one district then I don’t see why it should be in parliament at all.

    What is all this talk about wasted votes? you will always have this even in your system of a national quota as a party which will not reach that quota will have its votes wasted.

    Jacques if it is not about AD … about who is it? Would you want AN or Lowell to be given a leg up not to have any ‘wasted votes’?

    Why is there so much talk in all the post-election analysis of the lack of an absolute majority being something of such great significance. This was bound to happen – I do not know of any other case of one party obtaining an absolute majority. Maybe someone can illuminate us. The most ridiculous point was made by Emmy Bezzina and others that if you add all other parties to the MLP then there is a majority against the PN. Sorry to disappoint you but by using the same flawed reasoning if you add to the PN’s votes all the other small parties’ votes you then obtain an even greater majority which does not want an MLP government.

    Why do David Friggieri and others speculate that the reason for a poor showing of the AD is the fear factor casued by the PN apologists? I not only disagree with this claim but would actually speculate that a huge chunk of AD votes are thanks to the PN. The disgruntled PN voter finds vent for their frustation by voting AD. Out of the already very few voters who give their vote to AD there are even fewer voters who do so out of a desire for a third party in parliament or for a strong believe in what AD stands for.

  122. Thanks for the adjectives Paul. Champions is a new one. I’ll take note.

    What you don’t get is the perspective. If we are comfortable with compensating seats in order to ensure governance surely compensating seats to ensure representation should not be a problem. By your reasoning we should not give any handicap to any party so the PN should be governing with a minority of seats. I know you do not want to reason that way but that is where your straightjacket reasoning will get you.

    Sarcasm aside, I am sure you are intelligent enough to appreciate that a threshold is tantamount to limiting the wasted vote. In effect a threshold is tantamount to saying that there is a limit to how much votes can be wasted – if 5% then that would be around 16,000 votes. Once you exceed the threshold you are entitled to a seat in Parliament.

    Also you have a problem with Emmy Bezzina’s theory. How you make that out to be my theory is beyond me. It is either convenient for you to aargue that way or just plain silly. What I said is that the PN does not have the support of more than half the electorate. The facts are clear and black on white. Read carefully, very carefully and you will notice what I mean.

    The one and only answer to all these anti-representation campaigners is simple. Introduce the threshold and let the people decide. If the people do not chose the threshold then so be it… no harm done. If they do chose to make use of the threshold then this democratic move will be vindicated.

    Coalitions? Let’s get the representation straight then we can discuss stable governance. Baby steps. It’s a longer process but with all these attempts at sabotage, misinterpretation and imputing of false intentions its the only way to go.

    P.S. Daphne. I already told you, we know your position – you want big parties and hopefully one with a Sant to bash in it. You made it very clear last night. Still baiting? Still no news from the Chicken Run?

  123. P.S: Paul you may notice I have not answered the ridiculous question about AD/AN. It’s about fair representation. IS it really so difficult to understand? It’s not about who I want to be represented but about who the people want. In this case REPRESENTATIOn is about having the voice of 16,000 persons represented in Parliament. Now if that’s too much to understand I cannot do more by way of explanation.

  124. Antoine Vella

    Jacques René Zammit Says:
    March 15, 2008 at 2:06 am
    “The one and only answer to all these anti-representation campaigners is simple. Introduce the threshold and let the people decide. If the people do not chose the threshold then so be it… no harm done.”

    I’m not sure about the MLP but I know that the PN is not against the concept of a treshold. The Gonzi report of 1995 had recommended 5% and, more recently, 7.5% was also mentioned.

    Changing the Constitution to amend the electoral process is not a simple matter however and it’s now rendered more complex because there would at least four parties involved in the talks, not three.

  125. Periklu, I know you already know this but I’m going to humour you.

    I said, “Nobody even tried to change his 60-year-old opinions, Pericles. I think I speak for all of us when I say we couldn’t be arsed.” This was the entire comment I posted. The second sentence in that comment refers to the first sentence in that comment. The second sentence does NOT refer to putting cogent arguments forward, as Mr. Vella knows very, very well.

    Jacques wrote a thousand words on misquoting last week, even though the person had misquoted by mistake. A big deal is made of misquoting here, because this place gets a lot of hits every day. Thankfully, the subject matter in the quote this time is not as important.

    A bid deal is made of cuss-words as well. I accept full responsability for the word I used earlier.

  126. Antoine Vella

    Look Keith, I know I’m not easy to argue with. I wind you up, provoke you and, to my delight, you invariably rise to the bait.

    If you want to engage in a slinging match, however, you have to be able to take it as well as dish it out. I’m not bothered by your or anybody else’s insults; have seen much worse. You, on the other hand, take yourself so seriously that it’s a pleasure to take the mickey out of you.

    Lighten up Keith. Last week wasn’t the end of the world, just the end of AD.

    J’ACCUSE COMMENT: Thank you Antoine for this contribution to the discussion: Contribution is a bit too heavy a word but you seem to be working on the same level as other baiters of note. I don’t find the adjective very nice but it seems that people like you are called Trolls in the blogging world. What you do goes against netiquette and also quite frankly does not help the discussion any further.

  127. Thanks for the adjectives Jacques … silly in my case is not a new one.

    Jacques says March 15 at 02:06 am : ‘How you make out that to be my theory is beyond me. It is either convenient for you to argue that way or plain silly’.

    I was misunderstood Jacques, possibly because of the way I structured my comment. Whenever I was addressing you or counterarguing your vews Jacques, I named you. In all other parts of my comment (eg the David Friggieri paragraph) I was not addressing you or associating words of others to you. The Emmy Bezzina paragraph was not addressed to you – this was unclear in the way I structured my comment.

    Jacques says March 15 at 02:06 am : ‘The PN does not have the support of half the electorate’. What do you deduct from this fact? Do you see some form of illegitimacy?

    Jacques says March 15 at 02:06 am : ‘By your reasoning we should not give any handicap to any party so [that] the PN should be governing [govern] with a minority of seats. I know you do not want to reason that way but that is where your straightjacket reasoning will get you’.

    PN governing with a minority of seats is absolutely not the basis of my reasoning. I have simply questioned why in principle 3rd party ‘x’ ought to be given a leg up to elect a candidate which has not surpassed a district quota.

    The point you raise on representation was more conducive to a reasoned exchange of views – I have taken it on board. I would be all in favour of this leg up mechanism if those 16,000 votes pertained to a minority in our country e.g. a Roma people. But in the Maltese context those 16,000 voices could be those of a very wide sepctrum of political views which includes an extreme right party. Would you be comfortable with giving those 16,000 extreme right voters a leg up? Now don’t dismiss this question as being ridiculous.

    As a sidenote on another blog, prior to election day I stated that I am disillusioned with such a polarised two-party system. I said that I would love a scenario in which a ‘compromesso storico’ takes place whereby the two parties split up into two and the PN ends up being split into a conservative and a liberal party, while the MLP splits up into an old guard labour and a continental social democrat party. Extremely idealistic? Yes, but I felt the need to point out that the aims you are trying to advocate through your reasoning are aims which I share – I am just not comfortable with the leg-up solution and its full implications.

    Finally Jacques may you carry on reasoning the way you do and in the process of you doing so, I would love to find myself in a situation where I question my own believes – in such a process may you refrain from describing my reasoning with derogatory terms such as ‘straight-jacket’.

  128. Antoine Vella

    J’ACCUSE COMMENT: Thank you Antoine for this contribution to the discussion: Contribution is a bit too heavy a word but you seem to be working on the same level as other baiters of note. I don’t find the adjective very nice but it seems that people like you are called Trolls in the blogging world. What you do goes against netiquette and also quite frankly does not help the discussion any further.

    Leaving aside the little detail that troll is a noun not an adjective (if we’re using words we should learn to use them properly, however), people respond according to their personality. If my posts – including one or two serious ones – were greeted with hostility, it is a reflection on those who responded in this manner not on me.

    As I implied in my previous post, people like Keith expect to ridicule others but then fall apart at the slightest jibe.

  129. PR:
    1. The Emmy Bezzina theory. Glad that is clear – misquotes have been a bit of a problem around here.

    2. The PN does not have the support of more than half of the electorate. What do I deduct? Apart from the fact that I am not the only one who should be doing any deducing on this point let me remind you that I have never, ever called this government illegitimate. On the other hand it is now evident that the government cannot easily make sweeping statements regarding the nature of the people it represents. A simple example: previous opposition to divorce could have been justified by saying that the party in government supported by the majority of the people is against the introduction of divorce. This no longer holds water and different forms of discussion to assess the needs of the people will HAVE to be explored this time round. I suspect the Secretariat for Public Dialogue might have a role in this.

    2. The Leg Up. Do not confuse representation with governance. We are here dicussing the first step. Representation of parties was not directly contemplated in the constitution for a very long time until the 1981 result made it necessary to effect certain changes. However once we decided to alter the constitution to make way for representation of parties based on their national vote – as happened this year we cannot go on ignoring the fact that a party that would garner 5% of the national vote would not be represented. I do not believe your Roma Argument holds water – anyway are we saying that PN does not encompass a spectrum of political views? Some have argued here that it does. What counts for the goose should count for the gander. The party garnering 16,000 votes will not be getting any more of a “leg-up” (I use this term although I disagree with it because of it’s negative implications) than other parties getting compensation for proportional representation.

    The simplest solution would be having the current mechanism topped up with a threshold that would then add parties to the opposition numbers (with majority party compensation adjusted accordingly). That is a solution that simply solves the representation problem while leaving the governance issue unchanged and avoids any talk of coalition so long as the third party is not elected directly from a district. One solution among many, I stress that. But it should give you an idea of the issue of representation.

    FInally, one note with regard to the Lowell’s and AN of this world. These problems (and they are problems) cannot be solved with the result of electoral tweaking. Because Lowell exists does not mean we cannot add a 5% threshold until he vanishes. This leads to complacency on the part of the parties protected by this system – rather than rising to the challenge and putting forward enough arguments to counter the ridiculous solutions proposed by some fringe movements. I have enough faith in the Maltese voter to believe that when the crunch comes he will choose. In fact the 5% threshold is high enough to force small parties to get their act together to merit a place in parliament.

    Two technical points. I saw your comment on the TMC but could not add it during reflection day. I can still approve it if you think it is not outdated. I.e. do you give me permission to approve it? Second, “straight-jacket” is not derogatory in the metaphorical sense… if you prefer “blinkered” “one-track” or “partisan” just tell me.

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