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PN retains two seats after Labour loses constitutional case

Labour will have seven extra seats in new parliament

Updated 8pm.

The Constitutional Court has ruled against a Labour Party argument that the Nationalist Party should not have been given two extra seats in parliament following the general election.

The Constitutional Court has ruled against a Labour Party argument that the Nationalist Party should not have been given two extra seats in parliament following the general election.

The Labour Party challenged the additional seats which were granted on the strength of a constitutional mechanism. The seats were allocated to Nationalist candidates Carm Mifsud Bonnici and Frederick Azzopardi.

There was “conclusive evidence” that Marlene Farrugia was a PN candidate for electoral purposes

The constitutional court this evening declared that there existed conclusive evidence that Marlene Farrugia had contested the last general election as a Nationalist candidate and had made it to parliament on the PN ticket, which meant that the PN, as the sole party in opposition, was to retain its tally of 30 seats.

This judgment has unequivocally laid to rest the debate which erupted when the Electoral Commission granted two additional seats to the PN upon the strength of the proportionality mechanism envisaged by the Constitution. The Labour Party filed an application requesting the court to revoke the Commission’s decision since there were actually two parties in opposition, namely the PN and the PD. This meant that the proportionality mechanism did not apply.

However, in its pronouncement, the court, presided over by Mr Chief Justice Silvio Camilleri and Mr Justices Giannino Caruana Demajo and Noel Cuschieri, declared that there was “conclusive evidence” that Marlene Farrugia was a PN candidate for electoral purposes.

All documents showed that she was nominated as a PN candidate. What counted was not the party statute but the fact that she was a candidate on the PN list, under the party emblem. This was reflected not only on her nomination form but even on the ballot sheet as well as on the posters put up in the polling stations.

In the light of such clear evidence, the court confirmed the Commission’s decision, commenting further that any other decision “would have run counter to the will of those who voted for Hon. Farrugia as a PN candidate safe in the knowledge that their preference would not ‘go to waste.’”

In a separate decree preceding the judgment, the court also rejected a request made by the PL for the joinder in suit of the PD. A party may only be called into the proceedings if it has an interest in the suit. In this case, the application of the constitutional mechanism had no bearing upon the PD.

Lawyers Pawlu Lia and Phyllis Aquilina appeared for the PL. Lawyers Paul Borg Olivier and Karol Aquilina appeared for the PN. Lawyer Patrick Valentino appeared for the PD and Ian Refalo appeared for the Commission.

The PN said in a statement that in the previous legislature, the Labour Party had governed for half its duration with two seats more than laid down by the law, and it had taken three years for the court to rule that this did not fairly represent the wishes of the electorate.

“The Labour Party once again tried to do this and went to court to again ask for something that would have meant the people's decision was not reflected in parliament. And once again, the court decided that the Labour Party was wrong.”

The Labour Party later issued its own terse statement saying that it would "continue to use all legal means" to ensure that its 40,000 majority nwould be respected "in its entirety".

Read: Labour objects to extra PN seats

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