Malta, the EU’s smallest Member State, held its general election on Saturday, 26 March 2022 to elect 65 members of its House of Representatives. Since gaining independence from the UK in 1964, the Labour Party and Nationalist Party have dominated the Mediterranean island nation’s political stage. The Labour Party, led by Robert Abela, won its third consecutive election. This Just the Facts looks at Malta’s political system, the 2022 campaign and the results of the election.
The Background of Malta’s Political System
Malta gained independence from the UK on 21 September 1964, to become an independent constitutional monarchy, with Queen Elizabeth II as Queen of Malta as its head of state. Malta became a parliamentary republic on 13 December 1974 when the office of President was established as Malta’s head of state after a constitutional amendment. Presidents are elected by the House of Representatives for a period of five years. Since April 2019, George Vella of the Labour Party has been President.
Maltese Members of Parliament (MPs) are directly elected from 13 districts, with each district electing five members each. Like Ireland, elections take place through by proportional representation, through single transferable vote (PR-STV), in which each voter outlines their preference among candidates in their district.
While 65 MPs are directly elected in this way, up to four further deputies may be added to safeguard the electoral policy of proportional representation as outlined in Malta’s constitution. After the 2017 general election 67 MPs were elected.
Since the country’s independence, Malta’s political culture has been dominated by two main parties, the centre-left Labour Party (Partit Laburista) and the centre-right Nationalist Party (Partit Nazzjonalista).
The current Prime Minister is Robert Abela, leader of the Labour Party, a position he has held since January 2020 following the resignation of Joseph Muscat. His resignation was the result of the 2019 public outcry from the public inquiry over the October 2017 assassination of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
The current leader of the Nationalist Party since October 2020 is Bernard Grech.
2022 Election Campaign
On 20 February, Abella asked the President Vella to dissolve the House of Representatives. It was reported that it was “a relatively smooth election campaign, overshadowed by a war in Ukraine.”
While Prime Minister Abela “campaigned on the back of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and his party’s economic record during nine years in power”, the Nationalist Party leader “Grech pressed the issue that he was leading a renewed party, amid warnings that Malta’s democracy is at stake.”
“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which began just days into the electoral campaign, muted matters somewhat, as did COVID-19 restrictions. A spike of COVID-19 in the last month, in fact, sparked the electoral commission to set up seven special voting centres for those who currently have the virus.”
For the first time some 8,500 voters aged 16 and 17 could vote in a Maltese general election.
2022 Election Results
Although the two parties voting share changed marginally since the 2017 election, the Labour Party gained an additional seat to hold 38 after the election. It will now take up its third successive term in office, having won the previous 2013 and 2017 elections. Prime Minister Robert Abela has won his first electoral mandate since the resignation of Joseph Muscat in January 2020.
The Nationalist Party gained one seat, winning a total of 28.
|Party Abbreviation||Seats||Seat Change||Party Name in English||European Parliament Group|
|PL||38||+1||Labour Party||Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats|
|PN||29||+1||Nationalist Party||European People’s Party|
|AD+PD||0||-2||Democratic Alternative and Democratic Party||European Green Party|