The Constitutional Court today decided that "the shortcomings in the electoral process led to an incorrect result with respect to the representation of the electorate’s wishes and ordered the Electoral Commission to declare as elected, the two PN candidates with the next highest vote count within one month from today.Nationalist Party."
The Labour Party is appealing this decision stating that it "obtained 167,533 votes while the Nationalist Party got 132,426 votes. This clearly meant a nine seat majority according to the proportionality principle."
But what does our electoral law say, and how did this discrepancy arise?
Let's start by explaining what happened, step by step with what the General Elections Act says.
When the first count results were concluded, which were immediately contested by the Nationalist Party, the number of elected seats were 37 for PL and 28 for PN. The procedures of Article 23 of the General Elections Act then came into play to implement Article 52 of the Constitution, in this manner:
(1) "establish the total valid votes credited at first count to each of the parties that has elected members to the House of Representatives;"
167,533 PL - 132,426 PN
(2) "establish the number of members elected to the House of Representatives by each of the parties;"
39 - 26; total of 65 seats
(3) comes into play only when there is more than two parties elected, which was irrelevant in this case;
(4) "for each party, divide the number arrived at in pursuance of sub-paragraph (1) by the number arrived at in pursuance of subparagraph (2) obtaining the average vote per seat for each party, disregarding any remainders;"
This resulted in 4,295 votes/seat for PL and 5,093 votes/seat for PN
(5) "adopting the lowest average vote per seat obtained in terms of sub-paragraph (4) as the benchmark, hereinafter referred to as the "low average", divide the number of first count votes credited to the party with a higher average, hereinafter referred to as the "disadvantaged party" by the low average to obtain the total number of members of the House of Representatives that should be credited to the disadvantaged party;"
The lowest average is 4,295. The disadvantaged party is the PN. Dividing 132,426 / 4,295 results in 30.83
(6) the result obtained by subtracting the number of members elected to the House of Representatives by the disadvantaged party from the number of total members obtained by that party at sub-paragraph (5) above shall be the additional number of members of the House of Representatives that are to be declared elected in terms of the Constitution;
30.83 - 26 = 4.83
(7) the total composition of the House of Representatives shall be such number of seats as is established in subparagraph (6) of this paragraph provided that if the total number of seats includes a remainder that remainder shall be eliminated by increasing or decreasing the number of seats to the nearest odd number.
Given that the number of additional members includes a remainder - 4.83 - whether 4 or 5 additional members are given depends on which makes the total number of members of the House an odd number. The PN was awarded 4 extra seats to bring its total number to 30 and the total number of representatives up to 69
Now, what would have changed had the mistakes at vote-counting not occurred? The Court has accepted the PN's plea that the result in the eighth district had to result in an extra seat for the PN, but has not accepted that the error in the thirteenth district would have necessarily resulted in an extra seat for the PN. The first-count results would have therefore been 36 seats for PL and 29 seats for the PN. The mathematical procedures for additional members would then have worked out in this manner:
(1) no change in total number of votes:
167,533 PL - 132,426 PN
(2) number of seats:
38 - 27; total of 65 seats
(4) average votes/seat would have been:
4,408 votes/seat for PL and 4,904 votes/seat for PN
(5) Dividing 132,426 / 4,408 results in 30.04
(6) Extra number of seats for PN would have been 30.04 - 27 = 3.04
(7) Whether this translates to 3 or 4 additional seats depends on which one results in an odd number of members of the House. In this case, the PN would have been awarded 4 seats to bring its number of members to 31 compared to Labour's 38, for a total of 69 seats.
Since the initial mistake in the vote-counting process has already been admitted by the Commission, mathematics show that proportionality would have resulted in Labour having 7 more seats than the PN and not 9. That's also what the Constitutional Court this morning decided.
So why are Labour and Joseph Muscat lying and appealing the decision?
Simply to delay justice. That's how much this government believes in justice and democracy. That's how modern, liberal, progressive and European this government is. It knows it's fighting a lost cause, but it still wants to use the legal process to delay the true democratic result from being reflected in Parliament's composition.
They've truly become experts at using the legal process itself to derail justice.