Updated: Sceberras Trigona’s article was ‘academic’ - Muscat
PN: Muscat's defence 'shameful and insensitive'
Updated - Adds PN reaction
Labour leader Joseph Muscat has sidestepped the implications of an article penned by his international secretary, Alex Sceberras Trigona, saying the piece claiming the government had lost its “constitutional legality” was an academic exercise.
Asked if Dr Sceberras Trigona’s analysis reflected his position, Dr Muscat said he would rather focus on the political implications of the current “unsustainable” scenario and added that it was up to the Prime Minister to make the necessary decisions.
Dr Sceberras Trigona’s was “a good academic exercise”, Dr Muscat said.
In the article in question, published in The Times yesterday, Dr Sceberras Trigona argued that Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando’s recent resignation from the Nationalist parliamentary group had effectively deprived the government of its wafer thin majority of some 1,500 votes and the premise upon which it was granted four extra seats to be able to govern.
“Malta now has an undemocratic government. It arrogantly defies the very first article of the Constitution which stipulates that ‘Malta is a democratic republic…’” he wrote.
In the 2008 election, the Nationalist Party won with a relative majority of 49.3 per cent against Labour’s 48.8 per cent but had to be compensated with four extra seats through a special provision of the Constitution, given that it gained only 31seats (three fewer than Labour) because of the way the votes got distributed on the districts.
In essence, Dr Sceberras Trigona argued that this Administration did not deserve these four extra seats it got in 2008 given that it lost its relative majority with Dr Pullicino Orlando’s defection.
But the dean of the Faculty of Law, Kevin Aquilina said the argument did not hold much water from a legal point of view.
“What happened in the 2008 election is past now,” Prof. Aquilina said, stressing that one could not re-evaluate the results of the election and the implications on the seats awarded to the PN in light of the present political circumstances.
He pointed out that Dr Pullicino Orlando declared that he would support the government on the implementation of the electoral programme and would expect to be consulted on anything else.
“The only thing that would change the present scenario legally is if Dr Pullicino Orlando changes his mind” and votes in a way that brings down the government, he said.
This line of thought was shared by former PN president and now Alternattiva Demokratika spokesman Carmel Cacopardo, who argued in his blog that the government’s legitimacy rightly or wrongly emerged exclusively from the result of the 2008 election.
Electoral Commissioner Saviour Gauci, who Dr Sceberras Trigona suggested should perhaps look into the matter, argued that there was nothing in the Constitution or the electoral law that empowered the commission to take action.
PN SEES MUSCAT REACTION AS 'SHAMFUL'
The Nationalist Party this morning said Dr Muscat’s description of Alex Sceberras Trigona’s article as a ‘good academic exercise’ was shameful and insensitive.
"It proves how Labour won’t work, and that with the likes of Alex Sceberras Trigona, and Karmenu Vella, of course, it will take the country 30 years back." the party said.
It said Alex Sceberras Trigona was a prominent minister in a government that ruled Malta, for five years, against the will of the people. He was Minister in successive labour governments’ that ruled Malta with an iron fist – suppressing freedom of expression , and crushing the hopes, and ruining the lives, of thousands of young men and women.
"Instead of showing him the door, Muscat promoted Sceberras Trigona to the very important role of Labour’s International Secretary - and now, following Sceberras Trigona’s unbelievable statement that the democratically elected Nationalist Government is ‘undemocratic, Muscat defends his man and describes the article as ‘a good academic exercise’.
"This is proof of how insensitive Muscat is. He wants us to believe that his party has changed, and that it has now become a ‘progressive movement’- which is really not the case. Labour remains the same, and it won’t work," the PN said.