Anyone who’s spent more than a few days in Malta will undoubtedly be aware of the country’s obsession with politics and the entire political system’s dependency on clientelism.
The practice of MPs and electoral candidates handing out favours and freebies is nothing new. It is not uncommon for ministers’ secretaries to cold call constituents and ask them whether they “need anything”.
One Labour candidate appears to have taken the practice to a whole new level, offering free maths private lessons to primary students. The lessons are being held at Labour party clubs in the district she will be contesting.
Treating – the practice of election candidates providing gifts to influence a voter – is illegal under Malta’s General Elections Act.
On the face of it, Demicoli offering free private lessons can only be perceived as an attempt at winning favour with voters, but according to the law, it can only be considered treating if it happens in the period between the announcement of an election and voting day.
In fact, an investigation into a gift of oranges given to elderly home residents by Rosianne Cutajar was not found to have breached MPs’ code of ethics for exactly this reason.
In recent weeks there have been a number of calls for reform of Malta’s electoral system and this is the latest example as to why this is so necessary.
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