The Partit Demokratiku has made the unusual move of abruptly kicking out all its members, a mere month ahead of the party’s election to replace its leader Marlene Farrugia.
The ‘Orange Party’, which holds two seats in the Maltese Parliament, held its annual general meeting on 7th October at Farrugia’s home in Qrendi during which the council approved wholesale changes to the party’s original statute.
Most notably, the new statute completely revamped the party’s membership process. In the past, you could become a PD member by registering online or at a social event and acquire voting rights by attending two social events within six months. Membership had to be vetted by the executive council and was valid for three years.
PD members have had their memberships abruptly cancelled
Through the new statute, you can now become a PD member and acquire voting rights at the same time by paying a membership fee of €10 for one year or €25 for three years, with fees waived if you are a student, a pensioner, are unemployed, or have a disability. Voting rights are only granted to people who have been PD members for three months, but the executive council maintains the right to backdate membership.
And therein lies the rub…
An e-mail sent by PD to its members, which is being published by Lovin Malta, shows the party has applied this change in membership process retroactively and has kicked out all its original members.
“The new statute requires all members to re-apply as members to acquire voting rights,” the e-mail by the party’s acting public relations officer Rosa Borg reads. “By paying a membership fee, members have the right to vote and to nominate themselves or other people [to the executive council] so long as they have been members for three months.”
The new statute allows the PD’s executive council to backdate membership
The problem is that the PD’s executive council and leadership election has been scheduled for a month’s time, which begs the obvious question as to who exactly will be applicable to vote in it.
Responding to such questions by Lovin Malta, the PD said its own electoral commissioner will soon decide which party members will also benefit from voting rights, ostensibly suggesting that only a select few will have their membership backdated.
The PD refused to answer a point-blank question on how many members the party had before it changed its statute and how many of those had voting rights. However, Lovin Malta is reliably informed the party had around 200 members, although not all had voting rights.
PD leadership contestants Anthony Buttigieg (left) and Timothy Alden at a clean-up event
Barring any developments, the PD’s leadership election will be a two-horse race between Anthony Buttigieg and Timothy Alden. Buttigieg, a 55-year-old medical doctor, used to be the PD’s deputy leader but resigned after the general election in protest at Marlene Farrugia’s refusal to rule out contesting for leader of the Nationalist Party. Alden, a 26-year-old environmentalist with Flimkien Ghal Ambjent Ahjar is aiming to become the youngest political leader in Maltese history.