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Editorial January 25 2004
Malta’s constitutional development reached its apex with Independence in 1964. The Republican amendments to the Constitution were a further positive development. Our accession into the European Union will be the next milestone in the constitutional development of our country.
May 1 could be the appropriate time to take stock of the constitutional developments and to update, upgrade, fine-tune and modernise the political tools governing the country. In essence, the country needs to modernise. This can be achieved by giving birth to the second Republic whereby the constitutional working tools are put in place.
The underlining trend of this second Republic must be the entrenchment of the values of meritocracy, accountability, fairness and above all the creation of a society where people are placed before the Institutions and where the Institutions are at the service of the people and are not self-serving.
Much needs to be done and much can be done with the necessary political will of both parties to modernise our country now that we are on the threshold of European accession. Europe is much more than simply a free market.
Europe has a soul. It is the embodiment of the French Revolution and the values of tolerance liberty and solidarity embodying the conquests of the 1789 revolution.
To modernise we believe in an action plan including the revision of the electoral system, a law regulating the financing of the political parties, changing the threshold of election of the President, introducing technocrats into the running of government, lessening the system of patronage in the nomination of chairpersons and directors on government boards and authorities and introducing a law on conflict of interests.
A tall order indeed, yet a programme, which with the necessary political will from all shades of political opinion, could go a long way to modernising our country.
Government should bring together a group of experienced persons from the political social and economic world who can make the necessary suggestions which can then be put up for public discussion.
The electoral system needs to be updated so as to allow a third political force a fighting chance to be represented in Parliament. The present party duopoly is stifling and disenfranchising a relevant percentage of the electorate. The financing of the political parties should be opened up to scrutiny. It should be more transparent with all amounts above an agreed limit being declared and known to the electorate.
The threshold for election of the President should be increased to a two thirds quota. This will ensure the person elected by parliament carries the respect of a substantial majority. It will further ensure that the decision will no longer be based on pure party partisan considerations. The President should also be given wider powers to choose the chairpersons and directors of government boards and authorities.
These constitutional updates will not only serve to modernise the country but most especially will inculcate and establish the birth of a culture where all persons will start feeling that the institutions are really national and that the country belongs to all irrespective of political creed or belief. The time to modernise is long overdue. The question is whether Malta will find the right man or woman to bring about these changes.