Malta – Where Politics is a Matter of Life And Death

Malta is a small island nation in the Mediterranean Sea and home to 450,000 people. It is a European Union member and although the people there are friendly and totally European, the attitude towards politics is extremely polarized.

The nation was a former British colony and inherited the Westminster model, with two major political parties battling it out for an absolute majority.

When Malta goes to the polls, the whole country stops and follows the campaign transfixed, with politics being thee topic of conversation in any bar or cafeteria as armchair experts weigh in with their views.

In 2013, Malta voted in a pro-business Labour government headed by Joseph Muscat, a former Euro skeptic and a former member of the European Parliament. Muscat opened the floodgates to foreign investment and Malta’s economy was (and still is) booming. But his government was rocked by scandal after scandal involving claims of kickbacks in relation to oil purchase agreements. Nonetheless, the government continued to register very positive economic results. Then came one of the big ones. The party’s deputy leader was besmirched by a claim from a blogger that he had engaged in a threesome with a prostitute at a brothel in Germany with one of his aides. The blogger claimed she had an eyewitness but never produced testimony.

Just a few weeks later, the blogger claimed that the Prime Minister’s wife had a secret company in Panama which was used to siphon off funds that had been deposited into her bank account by the Azerbaijani government in return for Mr Muscat having selected to buy oil from the country. The accusations were huge and Muscat took Malta to the polls a year early. Despite the clamor from the opposition to see his government booted out, Muscat performed even better than the previous election and won by a landslide 40,000 votes.

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