Government and Opposition unanimously approve significant constitutional changes

Unanimous approval in parliament for six Bills ushering in important constitutional changes • Breakthrough achieved after intensive talks over the past 24 hours between government and Opposition

The next president will be elected by a two-thirds majority after government and Opposition agree on constitutional changes
The next president will be elected by a two-thirds majority after government and Opposition agree on constitutional changes

The next president will be elected by a two-thirds majority after a breakthrough in talks was registered between the government and the Opposition.

The agreement was brokered after intensive talks over the past 24 hours between Prime Minister Robert Abela, Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis, Opposition leader Adrian Delia and MP Chris Said.

The agreement covers six Bills put forward by the government, five of which require a two-thirds parliamentary majority to amend the Constitution. Parliament approved all Bills with 63 votes in favour and none against.

The government’s initial proposal for a two-thirds majority to elect the president was also accompanied by an anti-deadlock mechanism that allowed the appointment to be made by a simple majority vote if the two-thirds was not reached after two votes.

The Opposition was against the deadlock mechanism, something that the government has now accepted to drop.

The breakthrough in talks between both sides of the House means that the six Bills that also include a new method of appointment for judges and magistrates, changes to the method of removal of members of the judiciary, the introduction of judicial review of decisions taken by the Attorney General and changes to the law regulating the Ombudsman, were approved in parliament by unanimous vote.

The constitutional changes are in line with recommendations made by the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission.

Opposition leader Adrian Delia described the development as a historic moment in a short Facebook message.

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