MALTA, 35TH PLACE FOR QUALITY OF DEMOCRACY
The German foundation Bertelsmann Stiftung has just published the “Sustainable Governance Index – SGI”, which assesses the quality of democracy in the world.
The report places Malta in 35th place in the ranking of countries with the most robust democracy. The index is the result of a series of indicators: electoral process, access to information, civil rights and social freedoms, and rule of law.
The site of the Bertelsmann Stiftung foundation elaborates an explanation of this result articulated on various points. The site recognizes the presence of an impartial and effective electoral law, in the sense that guarantees governability to the winner, which is always clearly identifiable, even in the case of a victory with a tiny margin.
The score related to civil law and social freedoms is high, also in consideration of the fact that the Maltese parliament has recently approved a law which guarantees ample rights to LBGTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) and which promotes gender equality. In this field, however, various forms of discrimination based on political affiliation and against foreigners have been found, especially in some categories of workers.
While a legislative improvement is recognized as regards the fight against corruption, implementation of these procedures is not considered satisfactory. The Bertelsmann Stiftung website also states that the parliamentary opposition, historically, has always accused the majority, and consequently the government, of corruption, but it is also noted that such instances have never been fully considered, and sometimes they have been even ignored.
Regarding the state of information and the press in general, there is an improvement in the independence of public television. Also under the heading “pluralism”, the score is positive, and it is emphasized that the various social components have several forms and modalities of expression. On the other hand, there is a reasonable margin of improvement with regard to access to government information and certain laws, which preclude confidentiality and the acts are still in force.
In the “Rule of law” category, the most critical issues were found in the “appointment of magistrates” and “prevention of corruption” sub-indices, while legal certainty and judicial review obtained positive scores. Among the negative aspects, the fact that the judges of the Supreme Court are appointed by the President of the Republic on the indication of the Prime Minister, who enjoys wide discretion in the matter.
The Scandinavian countries lead this particular ranking: Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Norway take the first four places, followed by Germany and Switzerland (fifth with the same merit), Estonia and New Zealand, the first non-European country, which occupies the 7th position.