The Malta Independent 23 July 2019, Tuesday

Maltese living in Luxembourg not able to vote in MEP election as no flights provided – Agius

Albert Galea Sunday, 5 May 2019, 08:00 Last update: about 4 months ago

No flight arrangements have been made by the government to allow more than 280 Maltese citizens residing in Luxembourg to exercise their right to vote in the upcoming MEP elections, PN MEP candidate Peter Agius has said.

“The government is fine with disenfranchising over 180 families honouring Malta’s name in the EU institutions,” Agius said.

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According to statistics released by Eurostat, the European Union’s statistical body, in 2018 there were 281 Maltese citizens living in Luxembourg. Air Malta will be offering return air tickets on its regular scheduled services at a charge of €90, inclusive of taxes and other charges, to those who are eligible to vote in Malta in the forthcoming MEP election.

However, there is no such scheduled service between Malta and Luxembourg, despite the fact that the Luxembourg has one of the largest Maltese communities in Europe.

Agius said that, last December,  he had sent a letter to Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi and the Electoral Commission, seeking clarification on whether or  not flights would be offered, but had received no reply whatsoever to his queries.

Questions sent to the Ministry for Tourism, asking why no such flights had been made available and why Agius’ letter had apparently fallen on deaf ears, remained unanswered at the time of going to print yesterday.

Agius pointed out that, had this been clarified earlier, these co-nationals could have opted for low-cost flights at the cost of €70. Now, however, the cheapest flights cost €250, he said and as a result most, if not all, of these Maltese will not be voting.

Agius also noted that, due to the lack of an embassy in Luxembourg, the Maltese residents could not even take an oath in order to vote beforehand.

Agius pointed out, however, that this “may have been the plan from the very beginning”, and that he suspected there were “bad intentions” because these citizens had been left in the dark. “Had they at least been told that there would be no flights, these people would have made private arrangements.”

In 2017, then Tourism Minister Edward Zammit Lewis said that Maltese citizens who live in Luxembourg could not fly directly to Malta, but flights to other nearby countries from which they could then fly direct to Malta are available. “No obstacle exists for those who want to make use of the scheme and exercise their right to vote,” he said.

In 2013, then Tourism Minister and current EU Commissioner Karmenu Vella had revealed that a total of 174 Maltese citizens had taken advantage of an Air Malta return flight to Luxembourg so that they could vote.

Statistics tabled in Parliament in fact indicate that the Luxembourg route was the sixth most used when it came to voting in the 2013 general election.  Only routes from London, Rome, Brussels, Manchester and Tripoli had been used more.

Expats all across Europe have long called for voting to be allowed at Maltese embassies abroad. This was, in fact, proposed in the Labour Party’s 2013 and 2017 election manifestos, but it seems that no headway has been made in this respect, at least not for the upcoming MEP elections.

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