A curious case in the UK about the way election candidates try to sweeten their voters ahead of elections may have some implications for the tiny island of Malta.
In the UK, Labour candidate Tracy Brabin was investigated over breaking electoral law when she handed out brownies during her campaign. West Yorkshire police looked into the case after Conservative MPs reported her for the potential breach.
She was accused of “treating”, which is when before, during or after an election a candidate directly or indirectly provides some form of food, drink, entertainment or provision to influence a voter to either vote for them, or not vote at all.
Brabin had been spotted giving out boxes of brownies marked “vote Labour”. However, following an investigation, Brabin was cleared of any malicious intent after it turned out the brownies were only given to her own party members, which is not against the law.
The thing is, “treating” is also an offence under Malta’s General Elections Act – yet, giving out food treats of all types are practically the norm in Malta.
It’s a common sight – election season is approaching, and all of a sudden, a hamper emblazoned with Konrad Mizzi’s face appears at your home.
But many others do it too. Current Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne has previously sent wine, former Parliamentary Secretary for Active Ageing Silvio Parnis had infamously sent roly-poly cakes…. the list goes on and on, from both sides of the aisle.
It’s not just food either – Fearne had given out powerbanks ahead of his PL leadership campaign, and, more recently, Economy Minister Silvio Schembri’s office had been found to be calling people asking if they need help getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
Just yesterday, Schembri was pictured handing out cupcakes with his name on them to mothers in his constituency.
With election season rumoured to be around the corner, it will be interesting to see what kinds of treats Maltese candidates attempt to bribe their constituents with this time round – and if we’ll see anyone blatantly breaking Malta’s laws actually being investigated for it.
Here’s what the law states exactly:
And if you break the law, you could face a fine of up to €1,160, and jail time up to six months, or to both a fine and jail time, in which case spend the next seven years not be able to contest elections or vote! In that case, MPs would also lose their parliamentary seat.
Have you ever received a political “treat” at home? Let us know in the comments below