The Electoral Commission has proposed changes to the boundaries of four electoral districts after the population in two of them exceeded the limits laid down by the Constitution. But the PN members to the commission have disagreed with the changes and issued a minority report.
Malta is divided into 13 electoral districts for the holding of general elections. While Gozo is considered a district on its own, whatever its population, the boundaries of the other districts change if their population exceeds 5% of the quota.
The number of voters in Malta and Gozo is of 353,241, meaning that the districts, excluding Gozo, must have an average of 26,922 voters. A population deviation of 1,346 is allowed. (Gozo has 30,182 eligible voters)
Five MPs are elected from each district, and the boundaries can have a bearing on the outcome of a general election. In 1981 a controversial redrawing of the boundaries saw the Labour Party winning a majority of parliamentary seats despite winning a minority of the popular vote. It still went on to govern for five years.
The constitution was subsequently amended so that the party winning a majority of the popular vote will have more seats credited to it in parliament to give it a majority. But that amendment applies only when two parties have candidates elected. Should more than two parties be successful, the old system applies.
The current problem stems from population growth in the seventh and the 12 districts, specifically Żebbuġ and Naxxar respectively.
The commission in a report tabled to parliament on Monday, proposed to move 1320 voters in several streets in Żebbuġ (bordering Qormi and at Ħal Mula) to the sixth district. Similarly, 1219 electors in some streets in Naxxar are being moved to the 10th district. The affected streets are near Naxxar School and Naxxar cemetery.
In their minority report, the PN members of the electoral commission said the Electoral Commission should not try to draw the boundaries such as to foresee the result of the general election, as had unfortunately been done in the past. But the commission should also consider the fact that in the last three general elections, parliamentary seats had to be added to the established 65 to reflect the popular vote. Changes, therefore, should not be cosmetic by moving a number of streets from one district to another, but more profound.
The commissioners proposed that Guardamanġia be hived off from Pieta’ and placed in the first district, while the rest of Pieta’ would form part of the ninth district. Ħal Farruġ would be hived off from Luqa and put in the sixth district with part of Luqa. The rest of Luqa would go into the fourth. (Luqa had already been divided between two districts).
See the commission's report and the minority report in full on pdf below.