The Malta Independent 24 November 2014, Monday

Four-year postponement for local council elections

Malta Independent Thursday, 17 July 2014, 21:27 Last update: about 3 months ago

A proposed bill in Parliament, tabled by the government, amending the Local Council Act would see no local council elections until 2019, sources have told The Malta Independent.

This was also confirmed this evening by the Opposition Leader, Simon Busuttil, during an adjournment speech in Parliament.

A few months ago, Parliament unanimously approved a bill that would allow teens over the age of 16 to vote in local council elections. However, according to this newsroom’s information, then such an approved bill would essentially be useless until 2019. This would mean that those turning 16 this year and who were so excited about the prospect of being able to vote would not be able to vote in a local council election until the age of 21.

A campaign called vote 16 had been rolled out prior to the bill’s acceptance, and several campaign stunts featured excited 16 and 17 year olds.

A survey carried out by Agenzija Zghazagh during January and February 2014 showed that 80 percent of Malta’s youth had agreed with decreasing the voting age.

The first reading of the proposed bill would amendthe Local Council’s Act sources have told this newsroom, adding that it would effectively halt all votes for councils until 2019.

On the other hand, this could be a move to bring all local council elections into one block, rather than having elections occurring at different intervals for groups of councils.

An issue with this is that political parties have in the past used local council elections to get a feel of where they stand and as such the PN would miss out on this chance next year.

Earlier this year the Coalition for the Abolition of Spring Hunting hoped that the referendum would take place during the local council vote next year. A question needs to be raised. If the bill in fact does cancel next year’s local council votes, then would the referendum vote still go through?

In June, a PN spokesman said that it would support the grouping of council elections in order to save money however these changes would need to be introduced gradually in the next legislature.

When discussing the topic at the time, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat argued that the move would not only save money, but reduce political campaigning. 

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