Late justice, but justice
The long-fought battle by the Nationalist Party to get redress for a mistake that took place in the counting hall in 2013 finally obtained results with yesterday’s decision by the Constitutional Court to assign two additional seats to the Opposition.
Mistakes can always happen. And electoral systems can deliver mistakes.
We have just seen how in the US elections, president-elect Donald Trump obtained less votes than Hillary Clinton but was declared president through the electoral votes which are not exactly proportional. When the same thing happened in Malta in 1981, a five-year crisis followed which was only solved by the constitutional amendment of 1987.
In the US there is now talk of recounts being asked for by a few who hope to unseat Donald Trump in this manner. Such attempts look forlorn even from here. One principle which should have been insisted upon with regards to yesterday’s court case is that justice should be prompt. Justice delayed is justice denied. The government speakers yesterday
expressed disappointment with the judgment because the five member gap there is now between government and Opposition does not respect the 36,000 majority this government obtained in March 2013. That is true but one must also remember that due to the lateness of the decision, the two persons who will now become MPs will benefit for just a year and a bit instead of the five years they should have had. Work that on your calculator. The government has not come out with flying colours in this case. It tried all the tricks in its box.
That reminds us of the obstinacy with which the Labour leadership refused to accept the need for change after the 1981 election: ‘over my dead body’ was how one minister, still alive, put it. Instead, honesty should have demanded that a clear and evident mistake should have been corrected as soon as it was noticed.
During the counting process, there would be many instances when mistakes happen but fortunately most are picked up and quickly solved in private discussions between the parties. Somehow, this mistake was not immediately picked up – which shows something happened to the PN electoral machine facing such a traumatic defeat. But when it was indeed picked up, there was not the positive response from the government side, drunk on the nine-man majority.
That was bad, it does not bode well for our democracy. It shows that there is a core inside Labour that wants to win at all costs, even with a nine seat majority. Heaven help us if the issue becomes a fight for one or two seats. This seems endemic with Labour, PN never did so, it preferred to lose elections and go into Opposition than twist the rules of the game.
It shows there is no understanding of the basic rules of democracy, just like in football, a team which does not want to abide by the rules of the game is quickly kicked out.
At this point, a suspicion creeps in: maybe it was in anticipation of such a decision that Labour has been packing the court with judges and magistrates from its ranks.