Editorial: What day of silence?

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What happened just before 5pm today, the day of the KSU elections, and the day which is pioneering online voting for the first time in KSU election history, is nothing short of one big mumbled exercise in chaos. Rather than quoting a single clause on silent day in the existing statute, these are all the clauses in the current KSU statute regarding elections and promotion:

46.The Electoral Commission shall advise all the candidates that their electoral campaign must end at ten in the evening (10:00pm) on the day before the election date, and it shall ensure that this rule has been observed.

47.This means that after midnight: 47.1.No public activities related to the election may take place; 47.2.No discussions, programmes, written propaganda, on television and/or on the radio and/or on the internet and/or through any other electronic means, may take place; 47.3.Papers, posters and/or other documents (even electronic) related to the election may not be distributed; 47.4.Posters, banners, papers, etc, may not be hung in new places and/or none of these may be replaced by others which are related to the election; 47.5.Every poster, banner, paper, information, photos and other type of propaganda related to the election shall be removed from inside the building within which voting is going to take place; 47.6.Despite this, it is anyway permissible for t-shirts, badges and other paraphernalia to be worn on the election date except within one hundred (100) metres from the place of voting.

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53.On the election day, no propaganda or advertising material or other material that may otherwise influence the voting shall be distributed.

It is clear that this year, much like other years, almost every single one of these regulations has been broken. Be it by Pulse, SDM, their runners and canvassers, The Third Eye - even Marlene Mizzi about two hours ago quoted the Pulse slogan. The Commission has failed at enforcing the statute’s articles on a number of instances, but at the risk of sounding like a broken record, The Third Eye has failed at maintaining the regulations themselves. By pointing out that the statute is outdated as justification for their actions, the door is wide open for any and all campaigning to start again because if everyone’s doing it, who’s going to be idiotic enough to stand around and be at a disadvantage?

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For the sake of definition of this ‘day of silence’, and in no way an implication that The Third Eye broke any laws, since these laws apply to general elections and not University election; Article 114 of Malta’s Electoral Law states that:

“During the day on which an election of Members of the House is held and during the day immediately preceding such an election, no person shall address any public meeting or any other gathering whatsoever in any place or building accessible to the public, or on the broadcasting media, on any matter intended or likely to influence voters in the exercise of the franchise, or publish or cause to be published any newspaper, printed matter or other means of communication to the public containing any matter aforesaid, or issue or cause to be issued any statement or declaration on any matter aforesaid or knowingly distribute any newspaper, printed matter, or other means of communication, or any statement or declaration as aforesaid, and any person acting in contravention of any of the provisions of this article shall be liable on conviction to a fine (multa) not exceeding one thousand and one hundred and sixty-four euro and sixty-nine cents (1,164.69) or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or to both such fine and imprisonment.”

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Did the voters have a right to know about the Car Park situation? KSU have been struggling with the parking problems at University for the past 10 years and have been repeatedly quoting the exact same facts in the email that was released earlier today. The only reason everyone is shocked is because rules and regulations are ignored, until it gives someone a political disadvantage. With regards to breaking the day of silence, what day of silence? The one the Commission hasn’t upheld properly in years, or the one that isn’t relevant since the voting has changed?

Although what The Third Eye have done is effectively completely disregard the entire notion of the day of silence in both the KSU statute and as it is defined by the law, Insite stands at the disadvantage of not having created viral content by apparently breaking the rules first. The Commission needs to get their act together, because this should have never happened, and The Third Eye, although technically not in the wrong, should have at least approached and listened to the Commission’s direction, rather than finding and abusing a loophole before ironically pointing out that SDM and Pulse did too.

Written by

Mathias Mallia

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