1. When asked if they agree with the sale of citizenship scheme, the PN hotly objected to it “in principle” …
a. Except if you raise the price
b.Except if you make the applicants take up residence
c. Except if you make them buy property
d.Except if you make them invest in job creation
e. (Sorry, could you repeat the question?)
My definition of “in principle” means no passport for sale, at any price, never, ever, under any circumstances. Spot the difference.
- Making applicants live here for a year is now considered a good thing (even though, until yesterday, there were horror stories of potential criminals and money launderers living among us). Anyone who can explain this contradiction to me is welcome to do so.
- Citizenship + residency will entitle the applicant the right to vote. Erm, has the PN really thought this through? Who will the applicant be more likely to vote for, the party which made it possible for him to acquire an EU passport or the party which has done everything in its power to prevent it from happening (and even threatened to strip the applicant of his citizenship once elected)?
- The next round of bickering has already started: what do we mean by ‘residency’? Fear not – the answer is right there for those who care to look up what happened in the case of the Labour Party vs Arnold Cassola. On the eve of the 2003 election, the Malta Labour Party’s challenged the eligibility of Professor Arnold Cassola’s right to vote, because he had spent much of the preceding time abroad as an official of the European Greens. The case reached the Constitutional Court which, in March 2003, ruled in Cassola’s favor. The Court’s opinion gave a broad and quite flexible interpretation to the word “residence” in Article 57:
“The word ‘residence’ does not mean physical presence in the country, but includes and allows periodic absence from the country. A person who is temporarily absent from Malta because of work, study, illness or mission, must not and cannot be considered as not resident in Malta. A person who goes abroad to study or for work purposes is still ‘directly and continuously concerned’ with the political activity of the country of residence and therefore there exists no reason for the deprivation of the right to vote for that person. … Residence therefore does not require a continuous presence in the country, but a habitual one, according to the circumstances of the case of that person.” (source: www.Maltadata.com)
5. Aha, but one can still prove whether the person is physically resident in Malta right? Uhm, no, not really. To quote from the same source:
“It once was fairly easy to establish whether a person had left Malta, and for what length of time, by checking the embarkation and disembarkation cards that had to be filled out by all travellers. However, starting in 1999 these cards no longer needed to be filled out by Maltese citizens and no similarly simple administrative method was available to check on absences from Malta.” (source: www.Maltadata.com)
- The Labour party could have avoided all this grief if it had done its homework properly and come up with an acceptable scheme which would have circumvented the inevitable backlash. Instead it has had to do an enormous amount of damage control from all the political fallout and negative international press coverage. Was it worth it?
- Yesterday’s outcome shows how easily this could all have been solved around a negotiating table if there had been enough goodwill on both sides.
- Each party is trying to take credit for the fact that the European Commission has now accepted Malta’s citizenship scheme. (Yay Simon, boo Muscat.)
- Each party thinks “they” have won. (Yay Muscat, boo Simon.)
- Meanwhile, the lasting impression we have left of ourselves at the European Parliament is that of a country which suffers from such a deep-rooted and insurmountable partisan rift that Nationalist MEPs will think nothing of urging other countries to single out and condemn Malta in writing. All in the name of ‘patriotism’, of course.