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MALTATODAY 17 April 2022

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11 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 17 APRIL 2022 NEWS WHEN parliament opens in the coming weeks 79 MPs will take up their seats in the chamber, the largest num- ber ever. But this is not the only record attached to the new legislature after an election that delivered 34 new fac- es, more women and the youngest MP in history. MaltaToday takes a look at the composition of par- liament, which sees the Labour Party enjoy a nine-seat majority over the Opposition Nationalist Party – two more seats than the last legislature. Parliament XL: Largest parliament ever With 79 MPs, the new legislature will have the larg- est parliament ever. The general election delivered the customary 65 seats, which increased by a further two after the PN was awarded the extra seats to re- store proportionality between votes obtained and par- liamentary representation. But with the new gender corrective mechanism kicking in for the first time, the number of seats had to increase by a further 12 – six on each side. The gender mechanism awards extra seats to redress any imbalance in gender but these are capped at 12. Given the shortage of women MPs elected on their own steam or through the casual elections, the mech- anism had to be used to the full this year. With 79 MPs taking up a seat in the House, the is- sue created a logistical problem because there are only 77 seats in the chamber designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano. Speaker Anglu Farrugia has gone on re- cord saying the issue will be fixed before the first ses- sion of parliament. But the sheer number of MPs has also increased Mal- ta's density of MPs when compared to the size of the population. With the latest census putting the size of Malta's population at 516,000, the country now has an MP for every 6,500 people. On a per capita basis, Malta has the highest ratio of MPs in the EU with Luxembourg coming in second with a representative for every 10,600 people. Luxembourg's parliament is made up of 60 deputies. At the other end of the spec- trum, Spain has an MP for every 134,000 people. Women boost: Highest ever female ratio The new parliament will have 22 female MPs, the largest number ever. Women now make up 28%, a significant increase over the ratio of the past seven decades. The ordinary election process saw 10 women getting elected on their own steam or through a casual election on districts where dual-candidacy MPs vacat- ed their seat. However, the number was boosted by a further 12 MPs through the gender corrective mecha- nism introduced last year and which kicked in for the first time in this election. The mechanism has been criticised as unfair by some because of the post-elec- tion adjustment in seats. But when the reform was unveiled it was construed as a way to challenge more than seven decades of status quo and jump start the system so that immediate benefits could be reaped. Throughout Malta's history only 26 women were ev- er elected to parliament and until the 2017 election, female representation remained stuck at around 14%. The reform aspired to achieve a critical mass of 33% as quickly as possible and eventually a balance of at least 40% representation for both sexes. And the mecha- nism also has a sunset clause, which means it will ex- pire after 20 years. The 2022 election has come close to achieving critical mass, giving a number of women – most of who contested the election for the first time – a platform to be in a better position to fight an elec- tion in five years' time. 18 and a licence to legislate: Youngest MP ever Nationalist MP Eve Borg Bonello is the youngest ev- er person at 18 to be elected to parliament in Malta's history. Indeed, she could even be the youngest MP in the world. Borg Bonello was elected to the House through the gender mechanism. This was also her first election, having made a name for herself at the age of 16 when she passionately addressed a gather- ing in remembrance of Daphne Caruana Galizia. The youngest MP to be elected before now was Josie Mus- cat, who was 22 when he first made it to parliament on a Nationalist ticket in 1966. Borg Bonello's election to parliament comes at a time when the voting age for general elections was reduced to 16. However, 16 and 17-year olds cannot contest elections themselves, something Prime Minister Robert Abela has suggested should be changed. New faces: A fresh look In a parliament of 79 MPs, 34 have never been mem- bers of the House. The wave of new faces makes up 43% of parliament's composition. Each of the two par- ties has 17 MPs for whom this is their first experience as legislators. Renewal was more far reaching within the PN where 49% of MPs are new faces. This election has served to fuel a generational change within the Opposition that has long been felt necessary. Within the PL, the ratio of new faces is 39%. But the PL has another four MPs with a very short parliamentary ex- perience having been co-opted in the period between 2020 and 2022 – Clyde Caruana, Miriam Dalli, Jona- than Attard and Andy Ellul. The sheer number of new faces making it to parliament is probably one of the biggest acts of renewal in recent political history. Parliament is set to open on 7 May but the solemnity accompanying this event will likely be coloured by the bag of records characterising the new legislature. Kurt Sansone takes a look at the new composition Malta's new parliament: fresher, younger faces and a larger House... Parliament Total seats 79 (45 old, 34 new) Women 22 (28%) Labour Party MPs Total seats 44 (27 old, 17 new) Women 13 (30%) Election (37 seats: 27 old, 10 new) Robert Abela, Aaron Farrugia, Deo Debattista, Chris Agius, Chris Fearne, Carmelo Abela, Andy Ellul, By- ron Camilleri, Jonathan Attard, Miriam Dalli, Owen Bonnici, Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi, Silvio Schembri, Roderick Galdes, Ian Borg, Julia Farrugia Portelli, Clyde Caruana, Edward Zammit Lewis, Clifton Gri- ma, Michael Falzon, Alex Muscat, Clayton Bartolo, Michael Farrugia, Clint Camilleri, Anton Refalo, Glenn Bedingfield, Rosianne Cutajar • Keith Azz- opardi Tanti, Alison Zerafa Civelli, Chris Bonett, Jo Etienne Abela, Ray Abela, Katya De Giovanni, Omar Farrugia, Malcolm Agius Galea, Rebecca Buttigieg, Romilda Baldacchino Zarb Co-option (1 seat: 1 new) Randolph Debattista Gender mechanism (6 seats: 6 new) Cressida Galea, Davina Sammut Hili, Alicia Bugeja Said, Amanda Spiteri Grech, Naomi Cachia, Abigail Camilleri Nationalist Party MPs Total seats 35 (18 old, 17 new) Women 9 (26%) Election (27 seats: 15 old, 12 new): Bernard Grech, Mario de Marco, Stephen Spiteri, Ryan Callus, Be- ppe Fenech Adami, Adrian Delia, Ivan J. Bartolo, Robert Arrigo, Ivan Bartolo, David Agius, Rob- ert Cutajar, Graziella Galea, Chris Said, Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici, Karol Aquilina • Jerome Caruana Cilia, Darren Carabott, Mark Anthony Sammut, Jus- tin Schembri, Joe Giglio, Ivan Castillo, Alex Borg, Stanley Zammit, Rebekah Cilia, Charles Azzopardi, Graziella Attard Previ, Graham Bencini Proportionality mechanism (2 seats: 1 old, 1 new) Toni Bezzina • Ian Vassallo Gender mechanism (6 seats: 2 old, 4 new) Claudette Buttigieg, Paula Mifsud Bonnici • Ber- nice Bonello, Janice Chetcuti, Julie Zahra, Eve Borg Bonello >> PAGES 12-13

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