Ordinarily, 65 members are elected to the House from 13 multi-seat constituencies each returning 5 MPs. Additional MPs are elected in two circumstances:
Since Independence, general elections have been held in 1966, 1971, 1976, 1981, 1987, 1992, 1996, 1998 , 2003 and 2008. Two parties have dominated Malta's polarized and evenly-divided politics during this period: the Partit Nazzjonalista and the Partit Laburista. Third parties have failed to score any electoral success: in the last election 2008 the Democratic Alternative (a Green Party established in 1989) managed to secure only 1.31% of the first preference votes nationwide. Elections have invariably generated a widespread voter turnout exceeding 90% of registered voters.
The 1996 elections resulted in the election of the Labour Party, by 8,000 votes, to replace the Nationalists who had won in 1987 and 1992. Voter turnout was characteristically high at 96%, with the Labour Party receiving 50.72%, the Nationalist Party 47.8%, the Democratic Alternative 1.46%, and independent candidates 0.02%. In 1998, the Labour Party's loss in a parliamentary vote led the Prime Minister to call an early election. The Nationalist Party was returned to office in September 1998 by a majority of 13,000 votes, holding a five-seat majority in Parliament. Voter turnout was 95%, with the Nationalist Party receiving 51.81%, the Labour Party 46.97%, the Democratic Alternative 1.21%, and independent candidates 0.01%.
The Nationalist government wrapped up negotiations for European Union membership by the end of 2002. A referendum on the issue was called in March 2003 for which the Nationalists and the Democratic Alternative campaigned for a "yes" vote while Labour campaigned heavily for "no" vote, invalidate their vote or abstain. Turnout was 91%, with more than 53% voting "yes".
The Labour Party argued that the "yes" votes amounted to less than 50% of the overall votes, hence, and citing the Integration referendum as an example, they claimed that the "yes" had not in fact won the referendum. The then MLP Leader Alfred Sant said that the General Elections that was to be held within a month would settle the affair. In the General Elections the Nationalists were returned to office with 51.79% of the vote to Labour's 47.51%. The Democratic Alternative managed 0.68%. The Nationalists were thus able to form a government and sign and ratify the EU Accession Treaty on 16th April 2003.
On 1 May 2004 Malta joined the EU and on 1 January 2008, the Eurozone with the euro as the national currency. The first elections after membership were held in March 2008 resulting in a narrow victory for the Nationalist Party with 49.34% of first preference votes.
On December 13, 1974, the constitution was revised, and Malta became a republic within the Commonwealth, with executive authority vested in the President of Malta. The president is elected by the House of Representatives for a five-year term. He appoints as Prime Minister the leader of the party with a majority of seats in the unicameral House of Representatives, known in Maltese as Kamra tar-Rappreżentanti.
The President also nominally appoints, upon recommendation of the Prime Minister, the individual ministers. Ministers are selected from among the members of the House of Representatives, which usually consists of 65 members unless bonus seats are given to a party which gains an absolute majority of votes but not a Parliamentary majority. Elections must be held at least every 5 years and the electoral system used is single transferable vote.
Malta's judiciary is independent. The President appoints the chief justice and 16 judges. Their mandatory retirement age is 65. There is a civil court, a commercial court, and a criminal court. In the latter, the presiding judge sits with a jury of nine. The court of appeal hears appeals from decisions of the civil court and of the commercial court. The court of criminal appeal hears appeals from judgments of conviction by the criminal court. The highest court, the Constitutional Court, hears appeals in cases involving violations of human rights, interpretation of the constitution, and invalidity of laws. It also has jurisdiction in cases concerning disputed parliamentary elections and electoral corrupt practices. There also are inferior courts presided over by a magistrate.
Malta was a long-time member of NAM. It ceased to be part of the movement when it joined the European Union.
Plastics and Rubber Weekly 16th April 2010: Light Idea Dawns on Solar Powered Aircraft.(Author abstract)(Reprint)
May 01, 2010; Bayer MaterialScience has become an official partner of the Solar Impulse project, which aims to fly a manned aircraft around the...