AD officials meet EU Parliament Office Director on discrimination

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AD meeting at European Parliament VallettaArnold Cassola, Alternattiva Demokratika -The Green Party Chairperson, Victor Galea, Secretary General and Henrik Piski, AD committee member and EU resident in Malta, met with Julian Vassallo, EU Parliament office director in Valletta, regarding discrimination against EU residents in Malta.

Prof Cassola stated: “Probably without even realising it, the Electoral Office in Valletta is discriminating against EU residents in Malta by not accepting to register these EU citizens in the electoral register for the forthcoming European Parliament elections. On the other hand Maltese citizens resident in Malta can register any day for this electoral register. This is a blatant act of discrimination since Maltese and EU residents have the same rights as regards voter registration for European Elections.”

Secretary General Victor Galea added, “Of the about 13,000 non-Maltese EU citizens resident in Malta and Gozo, 12,000 have no vote in the European Parliament elections at present, whilst they have been automatically registered in the Local Council Elections register. Assuming an extreme case of 12,000 registrants trekking to Rabat (Gozo) and Valletta to enrol on the European Parliament electoral register and given that there are only 120 effective working days between October 1st 2008 and March 31st 2009, is the European Parliament Valletta office satisfied that the electoral commission is adequately prepared, equipped, resourced and staffed to serve an average daily influx of 100 EU electoral registrants as well as process their compulsory identity card renewals?”

Henrik Piski, Alternativa Demokratika committee member and spokesperson on IT, said, “I am one of the 13,000 EU residents in Malta, having been resident here for a number of years. Why have I been automatically registered for Local Council elections but not for the European Elections register? And why is it not possible for me, like any Maltese resident, to go and register any day I want to?”

Arnold Cassola concluded, “Given the imminence of the 2009 European Parliament election voter registration deadline, the only practical solution is to automatically enrol all the resident Non-Maltese EU citizens whose names do not presently appear on the European Parliament electoral register. The Electoral Commission could then send a letter to every resident Non-Maltese EU citizen, advising them of this fact and inviting those who wish to vote for candidates in their country of origin instead, to notify the Electoral Commission for that express purpose. Such solution would give the equal rights that EU residents in Malta are entitled to.”

Julian Vassallo thanked Alternattiva Demokratika for helping to bring this issue to the fore and said that he took its concerns very seriously since the European Parliament and its Offices in member states have every interest in ensuring that no obstacles are placed before EU citizens wishing to exercise their right to vote in European Elections. He stated that consultations with the Electoral Commision on this issue are on-going and that he believed that if the necessary human and other resources are put into place there was still enough time for all non-Maltese residents wishing to be registered to vote in the June 2009 European Elections to do so. Dr. Vassallo insisted that parallel to ensuring that the legal and practical arrangements in place the Valletta European Parliament Office will be embarking on a “bring out the vote” information campaign which will also target non-Maltese residents. A multilingual helpline for the EP Elections is also planned. Meanwhile any inquiries from the public can already be addressed to the EP Valletta Office – or Telephone 21235075.

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