The Malta Independent 20 February 2019, Wednesday

An independent President

Timothy Alden Sunday, 6 January 2019, 08:55 Last update: about 3 months ago

The new year seems to have started on the wrong foot, as Malta’s daily dose of scandal continues unabated. It is not too late, however, to work for a better year for Malta and for a more hopeful future. Last year I spoke at length about the importance of active and responsible citizenship and the need to separate the interests of the political parties from those of the State.

To achieve a State working in the interests of all Maltese and Gozitans, I will repeat my call for the next President of Malta to arrive from outside the political arena. This is crucial, because the President is the person in charge of the process of constitutional reform that has recently begun and therefore, the nation cannot afford to have somebody whose loyalty is to a political party or to a clique rather than to the State. We need a respectable public figure whose accomplishments have nothing to do with partisan politics. Malta has produced many esteemed personalities who are up to the job and who can help heal the country.

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This is the year in which we have a chance for a Malta that is politically rather than religiously secular – in the sense of having separation of Party and State. The State and its institutions must serve the entire country and not just insiders and party loyalists. As the Venice Commission advised, we must reduce the concentration of power in the hands of the Prime Minister and the Executive.

The Prime Minister should not be the authority appointing key positions such as judges or the Commissioner of Police. We cannot have direct orders and the position of people of trust being used to buy influence or to buy silence. Similarly, we cannot have Ministries randomly calling households to buy their votes. These are many basic reforms for which our own Maltese and Gozitan academics and experts have been calling, without even needing to refer to a foreign authority. Our own experts have been saying these things for generations: they are overdue reforms.

Therefore let there be a gesture of goodwill and let the next President be a person of integrity from outside  politics. Let us have Constitutional reform from the bottom-up with the widest possible involvement of the people, in their genuine interest, rather than have a narrow reform to suit the agendas of the political elite. Let our Presidents be chosen by a two-thirds majority in Parliament, but let the next one come from outside politics, so he or she may steer the way to a fresh Constitution to heal our wounds without being influenced. Let us have a fresh start.

 

Timothy Alden is Deputy Leader of Partit Demokratiku

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