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Your Guide to Malta and Gozo - Government and Politics

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 Government and Politics 

The nominal Head of State is the President of Malta. Candidates for this role are nominated by the government and confirmed by a parliamentary vote. The President is elected for a five year term. The current President of Malta is Marie Louise Coleiro Preca.

For the past forty years or so, Maltese politics has been dominated by two major rival political parties: the Nationalist Party (Partit Nazzjonalista - PN) and the Malta Labour Party (Partit Laburista - PL, formerly MLP). The south of Malta has traditionally been a Labour stronghold whilst the north has a bigger proportion of Nationalist sympathisers.

The Nationalist Party won the 1987 elections under the leadership of Eddie Fenech Adami after having been in opposition since 1971. The Labour Party triumphed in the 1996 elections, but its reign was short-lived as twenty two months later, fresh elections were called after former Prime Minister Dom Mintoff failed to see eye to eye with the then Prime Minister Alfred Sant on a number of issues.

Apart from the PN and PL several, mainly ephemeral parties have come and gone. Notable amongst these were the highly amusing Partit tal-Farfett (Butterfly Party), the Partit Demokratiku Malti (Maltese Democratic Party, PDM), the Alpha Party, and the recently re-launched Maltese Communist Party (PKM). The Alleanza Nazzjonali Party, with its anti-immigration stance has ceased to exist as a political entity but is now a pressure group.

More tenacious parties have been the Alternattiva Demokratika (the Maltese green party – AD), and the notorious Imperium Europa, a far-right organization led by Normal Lowell with its few but ardent supporters.

Elections are held every five years or so, and any Maltese citizen older than eighteen years is eligible to vote. Voter turnout typically approaches 100%. The Single Transferable Vote (STV) system is adopted, similar to that in Ireland. The Constitution dictates that the party achieving a relative or an absolute majority at the polls has the greatest number of parliamentary seats. Malta is divided into twelve electoral districts, with Gozo and Comino jointly comprising the thirteenth and voters may only vote for candidates contesting in their district of residence.

To assist the central government in running the country, each town and village has its own local council (Kunsill Lokali), led by a mayor (sindku). Local elections are held every three years, and voter turnout is normally much lower than that for the general elections. The main political parties typically field candidates in every locality, whilst other candidates may also stand for election independently.