Penang | An island of flavours
In support of an independent mayor
Floriana has an independent mayor supported by the PN. Labour cries foul, thus betraying its aversion to anything which goes beyond the two-party system.
7 August 2012, 12:00am
Nigel Holland is a decent person admired for his civic pride. He was elected in the local council as an independent. Nobody can accuse him of being a PN stooge, having taken independent stands throughout his previous mandates. In this way, he earned the respect of the people of Floriana.
As happens in most European countries, majorities at local and national level are formed by post-electoral agreements between different parties or independents. A big country like Australia has a Labour government supported by a Green and two independents.
Having a relative majority does not give you an automatic right to power. If an alternative majority exists, such an arrangement is legal, legitimate and democratic.
Thankfully, at local level there are no laws guaranteeing relative majority rule. Imposing any such laws would restrict representation and the role of smaller parties, independents and civic groups. At local level every vote counts because even if independents and smaller parties are not elected, their votes are transferred to other candidates.
It is also worth pointing out that at national level the relative majority clause does not apply if more than two parties are elected to parliament.
In Floriana, Nigel Holland was elected in his own right as a free agent who can choose with which party he can form an alliance. Thanks to this arrangement Floriana got an independent mayor. Obviously, it is up to the people of Floriana to determine if Holland made the right choice in the next council election.
By stamping its feet instead of reaching out to Holland, Labour is showing its deep aversion to anything which goes beyond the bi-polar logic.
Ironically this is the same party, which up to some time ago argued that parties should not contest elections. Up until 1999, the Labour Party used to support all independent candidates. I never subscribed to this view, as it is up to voters to choose between candidates of the three parties and independents.
But it is rich for the same party to object to an independent mayor simply because he is supported by the PN.
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