– Legislative elections were lower than usual in Malta
After a campaign blunted by war and corruption in Ukraine, the turnout for the Assembly elections in Malta seems to be lower than usual.
Despite the threat of a Govt-19 epidemic and corruption, the Maldives on Saturday voted to hold legislative elections that would lead to a reshuffle of the outgoing government.
Polling stations were closed at 10:00 pm the day after polling day, as Malta generally had a high turnout of 90%. In Ukraine the war was clouded by uncertainties and sanctions, and the campaign was sluggish. The results are expected to be released by Sunday afternoon.
In a country still reeling from the assassination of an investigative journalist, Labor Prime Minister Robert Abela is the most preferred candidate in this election after nine years in power. He highlights the management of the health crisis and the economic decisions of his party.
But the October 2017 assassination linked the image of Labor to the corruption allegations made by journalist Daphne Caruana Galicia, who shocked the country and the world. Joseph Muscat, who has been criticized for trying to influence the investigation, resigned as prime minister (Labor) in early 2020.
“Democracy is in danger”
His successor has taken steps to strengthen the rule of law and press freedom, which is still not enough for anti-corruption activists and the family of Caruana Galicia. During a final meeting on Thursday, Robert Abela urged his supporters to “trust him” so he could “constantly change things”.
Bernard Grech, leader of the Nationalist Party, warned him during a rally in the capital, Valletta: “Our democracy is in danger.” Both voted in their strongholds of Marseille and Mosta.
According to official figures, the turnout was 40% in the afternoon, almost 12 points lower than in the last 2017 assembly elections. The press later pointed out that close to 45% of the vote had been reconsidered and the first voters removed.
Located beyond Sicily, Malta is the smallest and most populous country in the European Union, with a population of about 516,000 at 316 km2. The former British colony, where Catholicism is the state religion, has created a prosperous economy primarily based on tourism, maritime companies and online gambling, but faces accusations that it is a tax haven.
Malta was last year added to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF)’s ‘gray list’ of countries for its funding of money laundering and terrorism. Wealthy investors do not come often.
Under political pressure, Robert Abela suspended the plan for the Russians and Belarusians after the invasion of Ukraine, but the European Parliament this month called for the removal of all such plans in the EU.
For many voters, economic growth is a major concern. After a free fall in the economy due to the health crisis, growth exceeded 9% last year, revived by government support for individuals and businesses.