New Maltese legislation intended to boost the number of women MPs is history in the making, the Labour Party has said.
Jonathan Attard, a PL candidate who worked on the technicalities of the new law, said the legislation is innovative on an international level because it doesn’t specifically refer to women but rather “under-represented gender”.
“Personally, it was a process that showed me how important such positive interventions are,” he said. “As a candidate, I want to serve in a more representative society. We can’t remain with the status quo when it has historically always left us with minimal female representation in Parliament.”
PL president Ramona Attard said the party wasn’t ready to wait for parliamentary gender representation to balance itself out without any intervention when women have always been underrepresented in Maltese democracy.
“Historically, the biggest reforms have always been implemented by PL governments,” she said, recounting how Malta legalised civil unions seven years ago.
“We could have easily shelved this law by saying the priority is COVID-19 and economic generations, but we leave these excuses to do nothing to others. We make decisions and implement proposals in our manifesto.”
“If we aren’t courageous enough to implement changes, then these changes will remain on the shelf.”
This new mechanism will kick in if either men or women make up fewer than 40% of the total parliamentary seats once all the vote-counting is complete.
It will assign a maximum of 12 additional seats to the underrepresented gender, which has historically always been women by a long shot, to ensure a minimum 40% representation.
The system will only kick in if only two political parties, ie. PL and PN, are elected, with seats shared equally between them, and will automatically not function at all if a third party is elected.
The mechanism will first grant seats to the ‘hanging’ women candidates, who came closest to getting elected and then move on to the women on the party lists.
It will calculate the total number of votes they gained before being eliminated in the count in comparison with the vote quota in their district, therefore ensuring proportionality.
If there aren’t enough women MPs, PL and PN will get to co-opt them.
Every single MP, except independent MPs Marlene Farrugia and Godfrey Farrugia, voted in favour of them yesterday.