Newly-elected Labour MP Oliver Scicluna has come out in favour of a radical change in Malta’s electoral laws, suggesting a hybrid system similar to the one adopted by New Zealand.
“I believe we have to give people more of a chance to scrutinise politicians and maybe have other types of hybrid systems, like in New Zealand where people have the chance to vote for a party list and not necessarily a district list,” Scicluna said during an interview on Lovin Daily earlier this week, clarifying that this was his personal position and not the Labour Party’s.
Scicluna is one of six MPs who were co-opted to Parliament during this legislature, along with Finance Minister Clyde Caruana, Energy Minister Miriam Dalli, PN leader Bernard Grech, former PN leader Adrian Delia, and PN MP Kevin Cutajar.
Asked whether he’s in favour of amending electoral laws to allow the Prime Minister to appoint technocrats to Cabinet, as has been proposed by Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia, Mtarfa mayor Daniel Attard, and NGO Repubblika, Scicluna adopted a cautious stance.
“I agree with giving people the chance to vote for MPs. Just because I was co-opted doesn’t mean things should happen like that, even though in my opinion, the Prime Minister did nothing wrong as even the likes of Grech and Delia were co-opted.”
“If we propose technocrats, then it should be done in a wise way to ensure the electorate doesn’t lose their voice. Although I believe technocrats will prove to be a good thing, for example in my case I’m an expert in my field so I know I have a vision, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best way forward.”
“I believe the best way forward is giving people a voice through their vote.”
It was here that he referred to New Zealand’s Mixed Member Proportional system, which grants people two votes during general elections – one for an MP from their constituency and another for a political party.
The candidate who gets the most votes in each district wins the seat, while the party vote determines how many seats should be allocated to each political party, calculated on a proportionality basis. Every party which wins at least 5% of the national vote is entitled to representation, even if they don’t win a single constituency seat.
Once the district MPs have been elected, political parties get to fill up the remaining seats according to party lists. These party lists are a ranked list of candidates which are published before the election.
Therefore, people are able to choose MPs representing their district, while political parties are able to choose their favoured candidates.
Malta’s electoral laws have been tweaked over the years, with the latest one, a gender quota mechanism, on course to be implemented in time for the next general election.
However, there’s been quite a bit of debate about them in recent months. Family Minister and electoral expert Michael Falzon has said he’s open to a discussion on introducing a proportionality mechanism that will guarantee seats to small parties if they obtain at least 5% of the national vote.
Meanwhile, Nationalist MP and fellow electoral expert Hermann Schiavone suggested halving the electoral districts from 12 to six.
Repubblika has called for even more radical reform, proposing that the Prime Minister should be able to select any Maltese citizen to his Cabinet and that MPs who become Ministers should resign their parliamentary seats.
What do you make of Oliver Scicluna’s proposal?