After World War II, the British colony of
Malta was granted increased autonomy. Dom Mintoff, who
led the Labor Party, became prime minister in 1955. His
government wanted Malta to join forces with Britain, and
in a 1956 referendum, the Maltese said yes to his
proposal. The archipelago's other major party, the
Conservative Nationalist Party, boycotted the vote.
In 1958, the plans for integration with the United
Kingdom were abandoned and soon both parties wanted
List of most commonly used acronyms containing Malta. Also includes historical, economical and political aspects of the country.
The Nationalist Party came to power in 1962 with
support from Malta's influential Catholic Church. With
Giorgio Borg Olivier as prime minister, negotiations on
formal independence began. In 1964 Malta became an
independent state within the Commonwealth (Britain and
its former colonies) with the British monarch as head of
state. At the same time, an agreement was concluded on
British financial aid to Malta and a British-Maltese
In 1971, the Labor Party and Dom Mintoff returned to
power. The defense agreement with Britain was terminated
and the government declared that Malta would be a
neutral state with an alliance-free foreign policy. The
constitution was amended in 1974 to make Malta a
republic and the Queen's then Governor General of Malta,
Sir Anthony Mamo, was appointed President.
In the 1970s, the industry was nationalized and the
public sector expanded. The Workers' Party Government
began a close collaboration with the largest trade union
movement, the General Workers Union. In foreign policy,
the government formed close ties with Libya, the Soviet
Union, China and other communist countries.
The relationship between the two parties is
The contradictions between the Labor Party and the
Nationalist Party deepened during the 1981 elections.
Just before the election, the government had introduced
new rules for the division of constituencies. As a
result, the Labor Party retained its majority in
Parliament, despite the fact that more voters had voted
for the Nationalist Party. In addition, the Labor Party
was accused of directing the state radio and TV
reporting in a government-friendly direction. In protest
against the Labor Party, the Nationalist Party boycotted
the Parliament in various rounds, for a maximum of 15
Relations between the parties reached their low-water
mark in November 1983 when the Labor Party government
backed a scare against the Nationalist Party
headquarters to look for alleged weapons hides. During
this period, the government also presented a series of
proposals to weaken the power of the Catholic Church.
After violent criticism, the government was forced to
withdraw the proposals.
In 1984 Dom Mintoff resigned as prime minister and a
politically quiet period began. New leader of the Labor
Party became Mifsud Bonnici, who was prime minister
until the election in 1987. Then the Labor Party lost
power after 16 years. Nationalist Party leader Edward
Fenech-Adami took over the prime minister post.
The National Government worked for a closer approach
to the West and implemented market economy reforms.
Among other things, laws were enacted to attract more
foreign investors to Malta. In 1990, Malta applied for
membership of the EC (later the EU), despite opposition
from the Labor Party. Subsequently, the government took
several measures to adapt Malta's economic structure to
the EC. The state's influence on the business sector was
reduced and protective duties in trade with the outside
world were abolished. In the 1992 election, the
Nationalist Party again won.
The nationalists lose the election
The EC announced that negotiations with Malta would
begin in 1996. In order to get voters support for
membership, the government announced a new election in
the fall of 1996. However, the calculation failed and
the Labor Party won a scarce victory. The leader of the
Labor Party, EU opponent Alfred Sant, became new prime
Given the Nationalist Party's successful economic
policy, the exit came as a surprise. The Nationalist
Party had lowered unemployment, economic growth was
relatively high and inflation low. The main reason why
the government fell was probably the dissatisfaction of
the voters with the VAT introduced by the government to
prepare the way for EU membership. After the election,
the Labor Party government withdrew the country's EU
application and in 1997 the unpopular VAT was abolished.
A large budget deficit forced the government to
tighten the economy. The 1998 budget included large fee
increases for water and electricity as well as sales of
state-owned companies. The measures were heavily
criticized by party veteran Dom Mintoff for primarily
affecting low-income earners. Mintoff refused to follow
the party line and thus the Labor Party lost its
majority in parliament. However, the budget went through
thanks to the President's vote. Mintoff then voted
against the government in a vote of confidence and Prime
Minister Sant was forced to announce new elections.
In the 1998 election, the Nationalist Party received
almost 52 percent of the vote, the best result for the
party during the post-war period. Malta applied again
for EU membership in September of the same year. The new
Prime Minister, Edward Fenech-Adami, promised an
advisory referendum on membership.
Malta joins the EU
Negotiations between Malta and the EU began in 2000.
Two years later, Malta, together with nine other
countries in eastern and southern Europe, received the
sign of the European Commission for accession to the
Union in 2004. In March 2003, 53 percent voted in favor
of EU membership. The no-side got 46 percent.
In order to take advantage of the windfall in the
referendum, the government announced parliamentary
elections in April 2003, eight months earlier than
required by the constitution.
The election result was almost a repeat of the
referendum. The Nationalist Party gained a satisfactory
majority with almost 52 percent of the vote, compared to
47.5 percent for the Labor Party. A few days after the
election, Malta and the other candidate countries signed
the formal accession treaty to the EU.
In February 2004, 70-year-old Edward Fenech-Adami
resigned as prime minister and leader of the Nationalist
Party. He was succeeded by Deputy Prime Minister
Lawrence Gonzi in both positions.
On May 1, 2004, Malta became a full member of the EU.
The refugee issue
Since the EU accession, the influx of refugees from
mainly North Africa has been a major problem for Malta.
In 2005, Malta demanded that the EU countries distribute
asylum seekers among themselves according to their area
and population. The claim was supported by the European
Commission and some of the refugees were redistributed.
In 2007, Malta received EU support in the form of
patrolling the coasts, but the refugee stream continued.
In July of that year, Justice Minister Tonio Borg warned
of a crisis if the trend continued. He said the
development had already had political consequences; a
month earlier, a new political party had been formed,
the National Action, which wanted to take action against
The March 2008 parliamentary elections gave the
Nationalist Party its third victory in a row, but this
time it was by a tiny margin - about 1,500 votes. The
Nationalist Party received 35 of the 69 seats, while the
Labor Party received the remaining 34. Lawrence Gonzi
remained as prime minister.
National campaign took place in the election but was
wound up a few years after the election loss.
Alfred Sant, who had led the Labor Party since 1992,
resigned immediately after the election and was replaced
by EU parliamentarian Joseph Muscat. The new party
leader made an attempt to wash away the Labor Party's
stamp as EU skeptic and declared that Malta would now
become a truly European state. This would be done by
safeguarding the rights of all citizens, without
hindrance from the Catholic Church. However, he added
that the Labor Party was still opposed to legalizing
After the election, the national government raised
the fees on electricity and water to bring more money
into the Treasury. The government also initiated the
privatization of state-owned companies. The
international financial crisis of 2008-2009 caused
Malta's usually low unemployment to rise to seven
percent in 2009. To dampen the effects of the recession,
the government provided financial support to the tourism
sector and some of the country's largest manufacturing
In the spring of 2009, the government received
criticism from environmental organizations and the
opposition for its plans to expand the Delimara power
plant. Environmental organizations considered that the
emissions from the oil-fired plant would be too large.
At the same time, the opposition published documents
showing that the government could be suspected of
corruption in connection with the procurement of the
In the summer of 2011, the whole deal was
investigated by a parliamentary audit committee.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Finance took control of the
state's energy companies and water companies from the
Ministry of Infrastructure. However, corruption charges
have already been directed against Finance Minister
Tonio Fenech. The opposition demanded his departure, but
Fenech could not be bound to any irregularities and
remained as minister.
The refugee wave is tempting
Refugee traffic across the Mediterranean continued as
before. The government repeatedly appealed for a fairer
distribution of refugees within the EU. In 2009, the
Union initiated a pilot project in which other EU
countries would voluntarily receive a few thousand of
the refugees who have been granted asylum in Malta, but
the distribution went slow and the project became a
disappointment for Malta. However, some refugees could
be sent to the United States.
In order to reduce refugee flows, the EU increased
coastal surveillance in the Mediterranean. Malta and
Italy signed an agreement with Libya to send refugees
back. As a result, the number of refugees who came to
Malta and Italy decreased sharply in 2009 and 2010.
Instead, more and more refugees began to enter the EU
The refugee flow increased again in 2011, mainly due
to an uprising in Libya that was followed by civil war.
Migrant flows to Malta continued during 2012 and 2013
when more than 2000 people arrived from Africa.
The Maltese parliament voted in July 2011 for a law
that allows divorce, which the Maltese said yes in a
referendum two months earlier. Malta thus became the
last country in the EU to lift the ban on divorce. Among
all the states in the world remained the Philippines and
the Vatican City, which did not allow divorce.
At the end of 2012, the government lost its scarce
majority in parliament, after a member of the ruling
Nationalist Party voted against the budget, which was
therefore rejected. The government fell and elections
were announced until March 2013. The Social Democratic
opposition in the Labor Party had a clear takeover in
public opinion before the election and also won by a