PD insists on President elected by two-thirds majority

The Democratic Party said there is still time to have a unifying president while arguing that any Constitutional Convention should first address existing problems with the country's democracy

The PD has called for President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca's successor to be elected with a two-thirds parliamentary majority
The PD has called for President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca's successor to be elected with a two-thirds parliamentary majority

The Democratic Party has reiterated its call for the President of the Republic to be elected by a two-thirds parliamentary majority.

On Monday afternoon, a PD delegation led by party deputy leader Timothy Alden met with President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca who is leading the Constitutional Convention’s steering committee.

Speaking to MaltaToday after the press conference, PD leader Godfrey Farrugia insisted there was still time to have a president that is elected and that can act as a unifying force.

“The country is divided, which is in an of itself another acute problem it is facing,” Farrugia said. “A president elected in this way will serve to unite the country. If there is the political will for it to happen, it can easily be done.”

Coleiro Preca’s term expires in April, and while there has not yet been any confirmation from the government, many expect former minister George Vella to be the next president.  

READ MORE: PD holds ‘proactive’ discussion with constitutional reform committee

In this second meeting with the steering committee, the PD presented a brief in which it made a number of proposals.

Farrugia insisted that the PD’s role in the convention would be essential, given that it was better positioned to point out issues that might not be as apparent to the bigger parties.

Moreover, Farrugia said the party believed in a multi-party system, adding that any changes to the constitution should be drawn up using a bottom-up approach, through the necessary consultation with the people.

As part of the process, the PD is suggesting that two distinct bodies be set up. One should consist of local and foreign legal experts in democracy and governance, including the Venice Commission and the European Commission, and a second entity that is responsible for informing and educating the people about the Convention.

“People aren’t understanding what the convention is,” Farrugia said, adding that the significance of the constitution was also often underestimated or misunderstood.

He also stressed the importance of the steering committee laying down the necessary time-frames and a terms of reference, as well as the allocation of resources needed for the convention.

Constitutional Convention should first address dysfunctional democracy

Turning to the convention’s priorities, Farrugia said the PD was proposing that the first phase of the convention, which he said should take roughly one year, the country should look to address deficiencies which currently exist in its democracy.

As a priority, he said the “supremacy of the Constitutional Court, the rule of law control system and other sectorial fixes” should be addressed.

“The Constitutional Court’s power to annul unconstitutional laws approved by parliament must be immediately installed, as at present the legislature can over-ride the Constitution,” reads the PD brief. “Government should not have the power to suspend the Constitutional Court.”

It adds that the Constitution and the Constitutional Court’s case law “do not have regulatory principles of the rule of law that safeguard a modern democracy. The Constitution, the PD said, needs to include principles such as that of equal treatment, transparency, separation of powers and good public administration, to name a few.

Farrugia said that in its second year, the convention should be focused on “what sort of democracy we want”.

Looking towards the future, Farrugia noted that the process should be continually updated with a requirement for a report to be drawn up and presented to Parliament every two years.

READ MORE: New president should be appointed by two-thirds majority, PD says

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