Both PD MPs spoke during the same parliamentary session as the first pensions vote before walking out of the reading.
1. PD receives agenda from the Speaker before debate
Partit Demokratiku (PD) previously claimed that they were not informed by the House of the pensions reform debate taking place. Contrary to their claim, a copy of the agenda is sent to all MPs.
Once the Forza Nazzjonali coalition broke apart, PD MPs no longer fell under the remit of the PN whip, meaning they instead receive parliamentary agendas from the Speaker of the House.
The agenda can be openly downloaded from the Parliament website, leaving little room for doubt that PD knew about the debate.
2. Both Godfrey and Marlene Farrugia were present in the same session.
Godfrey Farrugia was seated in the House a hour before the pensions debate was set to start during the same parliamentary session, information from parlament.mt reveals. Both PD MPs made interventions, walking out of the chamber minutes before the pension reform was set to be debated.
The speakers list on the Parliament website show that on 6 March 2018, during the parliament sitting at 18:00, show that Marlene Farrugia spoke at 18:32, less than 2 hours prior to the beginning with the pensions debate at 20:20. Godfrey Farrugia made an intervention at 19:00, less than 90 minutes prior.
This means that both PD MPs voluntarily walked out of Parliament during the evening session and thus avoided the second reading altogether.
3. PD forfeited parliamentary duties
Once the PD did not oppose the MP pension amendment in the parliamentary debate, they cannot opportunistically take advantage of public sentiment.
As Members of Parliament, their first duty is to reflect their constituents’ concerns within the chamber and in a technical context. They cannot now spearhead the battle against the pension reform in an attempt to gain popular support.
The pension reform is a motion amending multiple pieces of legislation, that will allow Members of Parliament to be entitled to a pension after only 5 years of office. The PD’s absence during the first reading might have been a waiting game to see the public reaction to the reform.
Once they observed the backlash, PD went all out against the bill, in what seems to be an attempt to draw public sentiment on their side. By being absent in the first reading, they appear as abstentions rather than oppositions vis-a-vis the motion.
The motion is set to go through a second reading before the final vote in the third reading.