The Malta Independent 26 June 2022, Sunday

TMID Editorial: Janice Chetcuti and the gender-corrective mechanism

Thursday, 21 April 2022, 07:12 Last update: about 3 months ago

The gender-corrective mechanism that was introduced in the last legislature, and implemented as from the March election, has led to Malta having its largest Parliament yet, with 79 members, which is also the biggest per capita in Europe.

There is now one MP for every 6,500 voters and, as we have said many times, this is way too many. Malta should have fewer representatives, not more, but political parties think otherwise and they invented another way to increase the number of politicians in the House. The cost for the taxpayer will inevitably rise.

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We have also discussed, several times, whether it is an insult to women to have more of them in Parliament simply because they are women. We believe that women should be elected on their own steam, and not because of their gender.

Some also argue that the introduction of such a procedure worked against women, as voters were inclined to choose more male candidates thinking that women would have made it to Parliament anyway. That only four women were elected directly, down from seven in 2017, strengthens this line of thought.

When, then, one of them undermines the whole process, then the situation becomes worse and voters’ concerns on such a system are multiplied.

Before the casual elections took place, Nationalist candidate Janice Chetcuti said she will not participate because she was sure to be elected via the gender-corrective mechanism. We are sure that she did not take the decision on her own, so the PN is wholly responsible for it.

By so doing, Chetcuti “preferred” to be elected because she is a woman, rather than because the voters wanted her directly. It would have been a more prestigious way for her to have been chosen by the voters for what she has to offer, rather than because of her gender.

What she did, actually, went against the interests of women. This is because by choosing to stay out of the casual election, eventually a man was elected (Carm Mifsud Bonnici). If Chetcuti had contested the casual election, she would have been elected and allowed another woman to make it to Parliament via the gender-corrective mechanism. The way it happened, Chetcuti deprived another woman of a seat.

Why the PN then preferred to give a chance to veteran politician like Mifsud Bonnici to be elected to the House instead of a woman is also questionable. The PN says it wants to renew itself but when it makes decisions like these it does not look like it means what it says. Criticism that the “dynasties” which have led the PN for decades want to cling to their position would then be justified when something like this happens.

The way the system was “manipulated” also indicates that the PN wants women to be elected for their gender, not because it really believes in their capabilities.

Whichever way you look at it, Janice Chetcuti’s decision – or the decision taken for her by the party – was the wrong one to take.

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