Malta Divorce Referendum, 2011

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A Malta Divorce Referendum was voted on in Malta on May 28, 2011.

This measure was approved meaning divorce will be allowed in the country.

  • YES 52.67% Approveda
  • NO 47.33%[1]

This measure asked residents if they wanted to allow married couples to seek a divorce in the country. Issues with the date had arisen as it was the date for the football championship, though officials hoped fans would be able to submit their votes before kickoff.[2] Another issue to arise was with the color of the ballots, officials were trying to find a neutral color, not one associated with an established party or idea, in order to host a fair ballot question.[3] The form of divorce that would be allowed was likened to that in Ireland, the couple must have been together for at least four years and only one needs to file for divorce. Though proponents noted that the bill was not binding so parliament does not have the obligation to enact the legislation but it was hoped that they would follow the will of the people.[4]

The Broadcasting Authority of Malta had asked for detailed schedules of all programs and advertising which talked about the divorce referendum hoping to ensure that the issue was given fair coverage and that information is impartial.[5]

A lesser known law in Malta allowed groups to place billboard signs anywhere they wanted, as long as it did not obstruct vehicle traffic, for the duration of the referendum campaign. Anti-divorce groups had taken the advantage and posted signs and billboards in large public areas. The group in favor of divorce though had stated it lacked the financial resources so they could not counter the anti-divorce signs.[6]

Text of measure

The question on the ballot:

Do you agree with the introduction of the option of divorce if a married couple has been separated or not living together for at least four years; when there is no reasonable hope of reconciliation between the spouses; and adequate maintenance and protection for children involved are guaranteed?[7][8]

Additional reading