What is the political context of the Eurozone crisis period in Malta? Have there been changes in government, elections, referenda or other major political events during the period of 2008-present?
Since the independence of Malta in 1964, two parties have dominated the political system: The Christian Democratic Nationalist Party and the Labour Party. Malta was governed between 2004 and 2013 by the Nationalist Party under Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi and since 2013 by the Labour Party under Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. Malta has joined the EU on 1 May 2004 and the Eurozone on 1 January 2008.
The Maltese government under the guidance of Lawrence Gonzi (Nationalist Party) lost its one-vote majority at the end of 2012, when a dissenting Member of Parliament did not want to vote for the budget bill. This was not directly related to Eurocrisis measures, but to reforms in the transport sector. Government wanted to confer the management of Malta’s bus service to a German company, a decision this MP did not agree with. Thereupon, Prime Minister Gonzi announced the dissolution of the House of Representatives on 7 January 2013 and new elections took place on 9 March 2013. The elections were won by the Labour Party which received 39 seats in the Maltese Parliament, while the Nationalist Party got 30. No other party received enough votes to enter Parliament. The election period is five years.
Malta’s political discussion was – amongst others – dominated by the state aid to Air Malta which is a state owned airline. In 2013, the government (Labour Party) plans to rescue the national energy company ‘Enemalta’ by allowing a Chinese electricity producer (owned by the Chinese state) to become a minority shareholder. This plan is also criticised by referring to the argument that Malta would lose its energy sovereignty. On 12 November 2013 Malta has adopted an amendment of the ‘Maltese Citizenship Act’ which allows individuals to receive the Maltese citizenship under a special ‘individual investor programme’. It seems as if Malta tries to generate money by selling Maltese citizenship, whereas international criticism seems to be stronger than at the national level.