The Malta Independent 20 January 2022, Thursday

Government proposals to address gender balance in parliament ‘degrading and discriminatory’ - ADPD

Saturday, 16 January 2021, 13:13 Last update: about 2 years ago

While ADPD said that it agrees with the need of affirmative action to address the lack of gender balance in Parliament, they have described the government’s proposal to address this imbalance in Parliament as both degrading and discriminatory.

This was stated by Sandra Gauci, ADPD spokesperson today when addressing a press Conference outside Parliament which is currently discussing legislation which purports to address gender imbalance in Parliament.

Addressing gender imbalance is long overdue but it should be addressed properly. It is degrading to pick up unelected Parliamentary candidates with a fraction of the votes required for election and to declare them as MPs as a consolation prize”, Gauci said.

Female candidates should have a proper opportunity to compete for a seat in Parliament at par with male candidates”, she added.

Gauci added that rather than tinkering with the electoral system a complete overhaul is required.

ADPD has already proposed, over a year ago, an alternative system based on gender-balanced party lists as is already done in various other European countries, emphasised party chairperson Carmel Cacopardo.

The Commission entrusted with the proposed reforms discarded ADPD’s proposals without even considering it appropriate to carry out research and discuss further the proposals, Cacopardo lamented.

The government’s proposals are also discriminatory, added Cacopardo, as they discriminate against women active in third parties.  Bill 119 makes it clear that the objective is to apply the new rules in general elections “when candidates from two parties make it to Parliament”.

In this respect the Opposition’s declaration that it will seek to move amendments in particular to address the discrimination against third/small parties is laudable but will not achieve much through tinkering of the current electoral system, he noted.

The ADPD Chairperson added that an overhaul of the electoral system is required in order to address both the gender-balance issue as well as the proportionality Constitutional top-ups both of which are discriminatory as they are specifically designed for a two-party system.

ADPD has proposed an alternative consisting of basing elections on party list which should be gender balanced. At the end of the day this would also do away with the need to correct results to adjust for proportionality as elections so organised give us results which are strictly proportional too, the party said.

We need serious electoral reform instead of tinkering with the Constitution in the interests of the large parties in parliament, Cacopardo concluded.

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