The Malta Independent 17 July 2024, Wednesday
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Comments on this electoral cycle

Carmel Cacopardo Sunday, 16 June 2024, 08:51 Last update: about 2 months ago

ADPD has re-established its presence at a local council level through the election of Sandra Gauci at St Paul’s Bay. A good performance by all our candidates is definitely welcome news for the future. At the time of writing, I am still awaiting the Attard results. Many thanks to all seven ADPD candidates in this round of local council elections.

The proliferation of independent candidatures during the last electoral cycle is not a good omen for our politics. Though individual cases at a locality level may have their merits, on a national level, it is in my view a negative development. Essentially, in some cases it is prima-donna politics.

On a national level this resulting fragmentation undermines democracy. Our electoral system is designed such that fragmentation many times leads to vote wastage and consequently to an undermining of the voters’ concerns and objectives. Prima donna politics is not interested in this. It is only concerned with ego, and nothing else.

The electoral cycle that has just ended calls for a number of observations. Are the electoral shifts to be interpreted as PN gains or PL losses?

Looking closer at the Bormla local council result, which PN lost 5-0, could be indicative that PN has not yet been weaned off its occasional suicidal tendencies. There is no other way in which dumping its long time Bormla local councillor can be understood or explained. James Cauchi deserved much more respect for his years of political activism in and on behalf of PN in red strongholds. Unfortunately, he was a victim of internal party squabbles.

If the PN cannot respect its own you can imagine what it does to the rest!

Though it is inevitable that national politics has an impact on local elections, at times we tend to underestimate the significance of local issues. Most voters at a local level are sensitive to such matters. This partly explains the relative success of local groups and independents at a number of localities.

During a substantial part of the past week, I have been at the Naxxar Counting Hall observing the counting process. I had a number of arguments with the Electoral Commission as it is many a time reluctant to part with information, except that which serves the PLPN. This is in part resultant from the whole legal set-up of our electoral legislation which places the PLPN in a privileged position at the expense of all the rest.

The PN and PL, as usual, had a large number of representatives at Naxxar monitoring all the different aspects of the electoral counting process. Every step is monitored minutely. However, at one point I noticed that the Commission was ignoring its own guidelines. Teams of Electoral Commissioners adjudicating votes whose validity was contested were imparting different interpretations of the Commission guidelines. As a result, a number of invalid votes were accepted as valid when they should have been discarded, in line with the provisions of the said guidelines.

On Thursday afternoon, on behalf of ADPD, I had to submit a written request to the Electoral Commission on this lack of uniformity in applying the Commission’s own guidelines. After a formal meeting with its legal advisor the Commission decided to act on my complaint by ordering a partial re-adjudication of votes in the localities contested by ADPD, that is Pietà, Marsaskala and Birkirkara.

While welcoming the Commission’s action it is pertinent to point out that this practice is, most probably, much more widespread than has been observed. At times I wonder why the watchful eyes of the ever-present PLPN monitors are not bothered at all.  At times they prefer to keep both eyes shut.

Monitoring the electoral counting process saps your energy. At the end of the day, however, it must be ensured that the electoral counting guidelines are uniformly applied.

On a positive note, the Constitutional Court case which ADPD instituted two years ago contesting the validity of the discriminatory aspects of the electoral proportionality and gender adjustment mechanisms is approaching its conclusion. Next week we should most probably have a Court session at which final oral legal pleadings will be considered by the Court. Subsequently we will await the Court’s decision which could hopefully be available after summer.

It has been a long journey, hopefully nearing its end.

 

An architect and civil engineer, the author is a former Chairperson of ADPD-The Green Party in Malta.  [email protected] ,   http://carmelcacopardo.wordpress.com

 

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