Less legroom in parliament to accommodate bulging chamber

Malta’s parliament is facing the conundrum of every budget airline in existence. How to squeeze an extra dozen or so seats into an unyielding, rigid space. The solution, it seems, is also being taken out of the cheap flights’ book. Just shrink legroom and pack the seats in closer.

According to senior parliamentary officials, this is indeed what’s being done, and there will be less legroom and space between seats in the parliamentary chamber, which will have to accommodate close to 80 members versus the 65 established by the Constitution.

The officials told The Shift that parliamentary staff are currently changing the configuration of parliamentary seats as the chamber is too small to fit all its members.

“At the moment, there aren’t enough chairs for all MPs to sit in the chamber,” an official said. “The only solution is to change the configuration of the current seating plan so that we shorten the legroom and space between one chair and the other and fit in the extra chairs for the honourable members,” he said, smiling.

“Obviously, the situation will be more difficult on the government’s benches as they have more MPs,” he added.

After the last general elections, Malta has managed to surpass its own record and will have, by far, the largest parliament in the EU when compared to its population – set to cost some €100 million.

While the island already had an ‘overpopulated’ parliament during the last legislature, the situation has become worse and more crowded as both Labour and Nationalist parties agreed to introduce a new “gender corrective mechanism” to increase women’s participation, adding six women unelected MPs on each side.

According to the Constitution, Malta elects five representatives per district, a total of 65. Yet in this legislature, Malta’s chamber will now hold 79 members, due to the addition of an extra two members via the proportionality mechanism and a further 12 as a result of the female quota.

 

While the average parliamentary representation in the EU currently stands at less than one MP per 100,000 residents, Malta’s 14th legislature will have almost 16 MPs per 100,000 (population size considered is 500,000, according to NSO figures).

Unelected MPs

Although the composition of the new legislature is still not final because the PN is yet to conclude its casual elections before adding its six unelected female members, the situation on the Labour side adding six women MPs of its own has also sparked controversy.

In a post on social media, award-winning authorl Immanuel Mifsud said the ‘mechanism’ agreed by the two parties is a “travesty”.

Preliminary analyses of the new female quota mechanism show that candidates who got mediocre results in the general elections are still becoming MPs, leading to criticism of the people’s choice being undermined.

As an example, two new Labour MPs who will be given a seat in parliament, Floriana Mayor Davinia Sammut Hili and Gozitan teacher Abigail Camilleri, were voted for by less than 3% of Labour voters in their respective districts.

The same goes for the other four Labour candidates who will gain a parliamentary seat through this mechanism, Alicia Bugeja Said, Cressida Galea, Amanda Spiteri Grech and Naomi Cachia.  

Taken together, the six new Labour MPs collectively won fewer votes than the quota needed to elect one MP in Gozo.

The same is expected to happen on the PN’s side next week when relatively unknown political candidates will be declared MPs through this mechanism.

To add insult to injury, one of the eligible candidates for a casual election, Janice Chetcuti declared that she would forego her right to participate in the casual elections to allow a different candidate from her district to be elected, while she enters parliament anyway via the mechanism. This manoeuvre actually worked against another female PN candidate who has now lost her chance of becoming an MP.

 

Before the introduction of the female quotas, many, including many MPs from both sides of the house, were sceptical and in private declared that this was a bad idea. However, they all voted in favour when the Bill came to a vote.

The mechanism may even have worked against female representation – only four female MPs were elected on their own steam, one of the lowest records registered.

According to observers, female candidates may have attracted fewer votes as the electorate was assured that women would still find their way into parliament with the new mechanism.

                           
                               
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saviour mamo
saviour mamo
1 month ago

What is this mania to destroy everything we have. We destroyed our countryside. We destroyed our villages and towns. We destroyed our heritage. Now its time to destroy our House of Parliament.

viv
viv
1 month ago

But surely enough space to fill their boots.

D. Borg
D. Borg
1 month ago

So we are condemned to finance from our taxes an inflated Parliament of 79 MPs
Labour have an MP for every 3,698 PL voters…
Nationalists have an MP for every 3,521 PN voters…
however those who voted for the Greens are again denied representation (thanks to the PLPN abusively & undemocratically devised electoral law), notwithstanding the 4,747 first preference votes – let alone another 904 votes garnered by the “independent Green” Arnold Cassola – which would sum up to 5,651 – i.e. 1.60 times the PN ratio.
The crude evidence of a shambles of a democracy, in servitude to the PLPN duopoly.

Lawrence Mifsud
Lawrence Mifsud
1 month ago

No baby-chairs? Who knows if and when there will be working mums.

KLAUS
KLAUS
1 month ago

Yes, I also miss space for strollers. 
But more I miss space for wheelchair users!

This parliament should represent all Maltese. This is only possible if all different areas are represented. 

BTW: In my opinion, the corruption is too often there.
A prime minister, who cannot and will not give any or insufficient information about his “money blessing”, is possibly not the right one on the seat.

Mark Vassallo
Mark Vassallo
1 month ago

The unelected MPs should all be made to sit together at the back and out of sight of the cameras.

Last edited 1 month ago by Mark Vassallo
KLAUS
KLAUS
1 month ago

It’s not really about legroom.

It’s been about the big-headed male politicians who love to sit at the source of the money and use it for themselves.

There’s no room to make room. There their own filled bank accounts – wherever in the world – are so much more important than Malta.

If at least women together have the courage to fight against all these injustices.
Hope dies in the end. When only hope is left.

makjavel
makjavel
1 month ago

The corrupt are definitely represented.
The electorate is happy with getting fed with chickpeas , for living in a chickencoop provided by the chicken dealer.

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