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Politics in Malta

A republic with a President as a head of state

Maltese politics have a parliamentary representative democratic republic framework, with the President of Malta being the constitutional head of state. The President of Malta has executive authority, while the Prime Minister, being the head of Government and the cabinet, has the control of the general direction of the Government of Malta. The Parliament has legislative power with the Speaker of the House presiding over the unicameral House of Representatives. 

On the other hand, judicial power remains with the Chief Justice and the Judiciary of Malta. Since Malta got its independence in 1964, the party electoral system has been dominated by two main parties: Christian democratic Nationalist Party (Partit Nazzjonalista) and the social democratic Labour Party (Partit Laburista). Third parties have failed to gain enough success to be considered as significant. 

Politics in the Maltese culture

Every five years, as the general elections in Malta draw closer, you can smell political turmoil in the air – and hear it too. Not only on the 8pm news, but also at the kazin, at the grocery store, in the village square, on the bus, in church, wherever. Everyone has something to say, and everyone is sure that they are right. Actually no, they’re sure that their party is right, while the others, got it all wrong.

For a long time Malta has been split almost exactly in half by Labourites and Nationalists; while a tiny group of greens and uninterested ones fill the remaining gap. Each main party has thousands of enthusiasts, who will go very far to ensure that their party, and their idols, win. 

From months before the general elections, canvassers start organizing pompous events – concerts, parties, coffee mornings and so on, to tell the public that this particular doctor or lawyer deserves a seat in parliament. The loyalists listen patiently to the speech of politician-to-be, cheering and promising him the vote while drinking the free wine offered in the party.

Mass meetings and celebrations

In the few months before election, mass rallies take place every Sunday afternoon, gathering thousands of people together, chanting for their favourite politicians. Both parties are sure of electoral success, and you can hear that in the speeches of political leaders, with everyone promising prosperity and a new heaven on Earth, but not if the other party wins. The crowds can get wild, honking horns, dancing to the party’s election anthem, waving flags and downing beer bottles, in an atmosphere similar to a football team whose fans are celebrating winning the World Cup. This continues until the last few days before the election, where the bubble of excitement builds up, almost bursting.

The eve of the big day brings a pause in propaganda so that people can reflect on their choices, while those directly involved in the campaigns have some time to sleep before the counting votes. After around fourteen long hours after the end of elections, the first indications of the results are out. Everyone is stuck in front of the TV screen watching the latest developments. And then half of Malta goes around the island to celebrate, while the others quietly go home and start praying god to protect them from whatever’s coming.