Malta ‘not mature enough’ for third parties in Parliament, minister argues

Michael Falzon
Miguela Xuereb

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Family Minister Michael Falzon argued that Malta was not yet mature enough to have a third party in Parliament as he argued against any mechanism which would help smaller parties gain a seat.

Falzon was speaking during debate on another proposed electoral mechanism – to increase the proportion of women in Parliament.

Earlier this week, Nationalist Party MP Hermann Schiavone had lamented that the proposal as it stands would only apply if only two parties make it to Parliament. The PN is suggesting that the proposed bill should be amended so that any third party electing more than 5 MPs – a situation that has not occurred in independent Malta – would also benefit from the mechanism, which would add up to 12 MPs of the “under-represented sex” in a bid to increase its proportion to 40%.

Third parties – including ADPD and the two parties which had merged into it – have long called for revisions in the Maltese electoral system to facilitate their entry in Parliament.

But Falzon resorted to a common argument made in favour of retaining a two-party system: that a third party would “hold the country hostage.” Malta, he said, was not mature enough to deal with such a situation.

Instead, the minister suggested reviving an old proposal of the Labour Party: to grant additional seats to the largest party in Parliament.

Falzon acknowledged that such a proposal had been criticised on the grounds of fairness, but argued that “political stability” was a priority.

Two governments with a single-seat majority – a Labour government led by Alfred Sant in 1998 and a Nationalist government led by Lawrence Gonzi in 2013 – collapsed through the dissenting vote of one of their own. But a comfortable parliamentary majority failed to prevent the political instability that led to widespread protests and to then-PM Joseph Muscat’s unceremonious exit last year.