Muscat pledges constitutional revision
front of Lija’s Belvedere Tower yesterday.
Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi
Constitutional clauses related to neutrality, the Broadcasting Authority and Malta’s electoral system are out-of-date and should be revisited, Labour leader Joseph Muscat said yesterday.
Dr Muscat said the PL remained committed to establishing a Constitutional convention to draft such changes, with the aim of creating a Maltese “second republic”.
The convention would bring together civil society, politicians and necessary experts. Any Constitutional changes it recommended would only be passed if they had a popular mandate – “perhaps a referendum”, he suggested.
Speaking in Lija – the village where Malta’s first National Assembly was appointed in 1921 – Dr Muscat said issues concerning quota thresholds for parliamentary seats, redefining neutrality and reassessing the
Broadcasting Authority’s regulatory role all merited discussion. “We will enter this with an open mind,” he told journalists, saying that electoral law and other Constitutional changes should not be the sole domain of Malta’s two main political parties.
An eventual convention would concern itself with reforming Malta’s Constitution and the bodies regulated by it, he said, referring to the commissions regulating public service, broadcasting, employment, the judiciary, electoral law as well as the office of the Auditor-General.
Asked how he understood neutrality, Dr Muscat said he envisioned a Malta that actively promoted dialogue among nations but that could also act on UN Security Council and EU mandates.
“I think there’s a consensus on the concept. I see no problem with the way Nato’s Partnership for Peace programme has developed,” he said. Given another Libyan crisis, the PL would act “exactly the way this Government did”. The PN has also proposed updating Malta’s outdated neutrality clause, with its reference to “the two superpowers” betraying the Cold War era in which it was drafted.
Dr Muscat also questioned the wisdom of having politically appointed members on the Broadcasting Authority board, but added that debate on the issues could be broadened further.
“Should the BA regulate public broadcasting? And if so, how will private broadcasters be regulated? Should it just stick to broadcasting, or should it be opened up to other media, such as the press? These are all questions worth asking.”
He contrasted the post-colonial mindset that prevailed at the time when Malta’s Constitution was enacted to the European frame of mind of today.
“Many parts of our Constitution made sense at the time, but times have changed and they now merit revision,” he said.