Independent candidate Arnold Cassola has gone to court to challenge the controversial new law that aims to rectify Malta’s total gender imbalance in Parliament.
Cassola filed a judicial protest against the Attorney General claiming the law is discriminatory towards women of the smaller parties and goes contrary to Freedom of Association since it discourages women from contesting the election with non-PNPL parties.
“This is a distortion of democracy and an affront to the dignity of Maltese women who, in order to have a chance to be co-opted into the Maltese parliament, will be constrained to form part of the Labour or Nationalist parties and be subject to the commands of their leaders,” he said.
Cassola, who used to form part of the green party Alternattiva Demokratika, said the constitutional amendments approved in Parliament were an “insult” to Maltese women and anybody who is not affiliated to one of the two big parties PL and PN.
“The political parties led by Robert Abela and Bernard Grech have created a discriminatory system in order to be able to add to their own parliamentarians in Parliament. They have used Maltese women, pretending they want to promote equality among the sexes, to ensure that 12 PL and PN women candidates not elected to Parliament are co-opted,” he said.
“Instead of adopting a simple system which is fair with everybody, they have created a monstrous system whereby, if there are one or two independent women or women belonging to minor parties who are amongst the first 12 most voted women amongst those not elected, these are just kicked out of the list and replaced by female PN and PL candidates who would have obtained less votes than the two.”
Cassola said this constitutional amendment politically discriminated also among voters since the will expressed by the voter with their vote for a female non-PN and non-PL candidate who is classified among the first 12 most-voted women is completely ignored and, indeed, even subverted, since a PN/PL candidate with lower votes actually gets the parliamentary seat.
“This amendment also goes against the right to Freedom of Association. In fact, an independent candidate like me, who is interested in forming a political alliance amongst different independent candidates, is finding it nearly impossible to find women who do not adhere to the PN or PL beliefs who are ready to contest the elections, after the approval of this discriminatory amendment which is now discouraging them from contesting elections.”
Meanwhile, the political party ADPD, recently also announced that it would take legal action before the Constitutional Court to ask it to declare the law discriminatory as they effectively only apply in favour of PN and PL.
“It is unacceptable that the law is not equal for everyone: this is supposed to be a basic democratic principle underpinning all legislation.”
ADPD chairperson Carmel Cacopardo said: “This law only applies in a situation where Parliament is composed of two political parties. This is another discriminatory mechanism in addition to the proportionality mechanism already in place, which also applies only to PL and PN. We will challenge these two anti-democratic and discriminatory mechanisms in the courts.”
While agreeing in principle on the need to introduce a corrective electoral mechanism to restore the gender balance in parliament, the party also insisted the law should be applicable to everyone and should not discriminate between women and parties.
This, also means that the corrective mechanism on proportionality in the electoral result, which is also restricted in its application to a Parliament composed of only two political parties, needs to be addressed.
‘Laws specifically designed to favour the PLPN cabal means that these are purposely and unashamedly continually strengthening the dominance of these two parties by trying to eliminate the rest from the political scene with discriminatory measures, such as these constitutional amendments, under the guise of better representation of different genders.”
“This tailormade fiddling with the electoral law is compounding the discrimination we suffer, together with that already suffered because of the discriminatory proportionality provisions devised by PLPN. This is the last straw, and we have therefore resolved that the party initiates legal proceedings to address the discrimination that Parliament has decided to introduce in the electoral system.”
Do you think the law should be challenged in court?