Divorce: PL says PM going back on his promises
Pullicino Orlando disappointed by PN decision
UPDATED - The Labour Party said this afternoon that the prime minister had gone back on his promise to let the people decide on divorce through a referendum.
In a statement, the party noted that up to a few weeks ago, Dr Gonzi had said that since no party in Parliament had a mandate on divorce, the people should express themselves on the issue.
Now Dr Gonzi was doing what he could to deny the people the opportunity to express themselves on this sensitive issue.
To further contradict himself, Dr Gonzi had said he would vote against the Bill on divorce in parliament, while wanting the people to believe that he wanted a referendum.
The PL noted that the Leader of the Opposition had been consistent, saying even before his appointment that he was in favour of responsible divorce and that any attempt at legislation on divorce should be backed by the popular mandate (hence he proposed to submit to the election before moving such a Bill). He had also said that MPs and the people should be able to vote according to their conscience.
PULLICINO ORLANDO DISAPPOINTED
Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando this afternoon expressed disappointment that the Nationalist Party had imposed a double hurdle for the introduction of divorce and the right to a referendum had been limited.
Speaking after the party executive committee decided that approval of a divorce bill in parliament would be subject to a referendum, Dr Pullicino Orlando said his disappointment lay in the fact that the people would be consulted only if MPs said 'yes' to the Bill.
The prime minister had consistently said that this issue was too important to be decided only by the MPs, Dr Pullicino Orlando said. But now MPs could say no, in which case the people could not say yes.
As a Nationalist MP, he felt the party would suffer if the people were now denied that right.
His personal view, Dr Pullicino Orlando said, was that if the referendum was held before the debate and the people said 'no' he would have respected their wishes and he would therefore have abstained.
With reference to the possibility pointed out by Dr Gonzi that divorce could still be introduced through a 'yes' vote in the House and without a referendum (if the relevant clause for the holding of a referendum is not approved) Dr Pullicino Orlando said one would have to be politically mad to deny the people the possibility of a referendum at that stage.