Cassola files constitutional case challenging election gender quotas

Independent candidate Arnold Cassola says a gender quota mechanism approved by parliament is ‘discriminatory’ and breaches human rights

Arnold Cassola
Arnold Cassola

Independent candidate Arnold Cassola has opened a constitutional case against government over the gender corrective mechanism approved by parliament last month.

"The constitutional amendments approved in parliament are discriminatory in favour of PNPL women and against all other women who are not affiliated to one of the two big parties. Worse than that, it is an insult jointly concocted by Labour Party and the Nationalist Party,” he said.

The mechanism cleared third reading, after 63 MPs voted in favour, while two voted against last April.

This means that if the under-represented sex comprises less than 40% of all seats after the election outcome is known, the mechanism will kick in to elect a maximum of 12 additional MPs – six on either side of the House.

It will only kick in if two parties are elected to parliament and will remain in force for 20 years.

Cassola said Prime Minister Robert Abela and Opposition leader Bernard Grech created a discriminatory system in order to be able to add to their own parliamentarians.

“Instead of adopting a simple system which is fair with everybody, they have created a monstrous system whereby, if there are one or two independent women, or women belonging to minor parties who are amongst the first 12 most voted women amongst those not elected, these are just kicked out of the list and replaced by female PN and PL candidates who would have obtained less votes than the two,” he said.

READ ALSO: Cassola files judicial protest, says gender corrective mechanism is discriminatory

He said the mechanism goes against the right to free elections, as determined by Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

“This is a distortion of democracy and an affront to the dignity of Maltese women who, in order to have a chance to be co-opted into the Maltese parliament, will have to renounce their genuine political beliefs and be constrained to form part of the Labour or Nationalist parties,” Cassola said.

He went on to say that the legal amendment goes against the right to Freedom of Association.

“In fact, an independent candidate like me, who is interested in forming a political alliance amongst different independent candidates, is finding it nearly impossible to find women who do not adhere to the PN or PL beliefs who are ready to contest the elections, after the approval of this discriminatory amendment which is now discouraging them from contesting elections,” Cassola said.

The constitutional case was filed by lawyer Claire Bonello.