My fight against being a second class citizen

This week, as a member of ADPD’s Executive Committee, I decided to vote in favour of legal action before the Constitutional Court. We will be asking it to declare that the corrective mechanisms on proportionality and the gender top-up in the electoral law is indeed discriminatory, as these laws effectively only apply in favour of PN and PL. Why is it the case that I, as a female candidate of a third party, should run at a legal and psychological disadvantage against women in parties with far greater resources and connections? Is this truly egalitarianism, equality and emancipation? Or is it something quite different – the reinforcement of an already grossly powerful establishment, at the expense of independent thought? Have women outside of the duopoly become second class citizens?

This injustice is built on an older wrongdoing, like most. The only difference is that this time, it has taken on a gendered aspect, and is using women as a shield and an excuse to cover its true face. Malta can never forget the democratic crisis of 1981, where one party governed with a minority of votes, but a majority of seats. The term “corrective mechanism” originally arises out of this saga, referring to a series of constitutional amendments to correct a democratic imbalance by proportionally awarding seats to the party with the most votes. However, this mechanism only applies if no third party is elected to government.

In reality, were the mechanism to apply to third parties fairly, then a third party should be able to be awarded a potential seat premised on its national electoral performance. Yet once again, instead of correcting old wrongs, the duopoly has reinforced history by creating yet another “corrective mechanism” which only comes into play if no third party is elected. Such an ingrained disadvantage to third party players is an insult to the basic principles of a fair and representative democracy, forcing a choice between two parties which cannot hope to encompass and represent the range of people’s ambition, values and principles.

The electoral system which independent and third party women face in every general election is not fair to us because it discriminates against us. It is perverse to trumpet the idea that women are going to be liberated or emancipated by such mechanisms when in fact, it limits their autonomy by forcing them to bow down to the parties responsible for plundering Malta, parties which in any case, are run by men.

The PLPN machine is purposely and unashamedly continually strengthening the dominance it holds at the expense of free-thinking women. These parties are continuously seeing our countryside, identity and quality of life sold to the highest bidder. We are run by business interests who owe no loyalty to the electorate, but who have the PLPN in their pockets. Why must we bow down to this structure of power to have a seat at the table? We hope that the Constitutional Court will acknowledge this generational distortion of the Maltese democratic system and allow justice to finally be done.

Sandra Gauci
ADPD Executive Member
Published in The Malta Independent – Sunday 25 April 2021