Democracy and rights
Malta's constitution guarantees the
individual's freedoms and rights and that the courts are
independent of the legislative and the executive.
Freedom of the press is also constitutional and it is
also respected in practice.
Malta has a functioning democratic system, where the
change of power occurs after general elections that are
regularly held in order. However, the election system
favors larger parties, which makes it difficult for
smaller parties to break the dominance of the two major
Offers a comprehensive list of airports in Malta, including international airports with city located, size and abbreviation, as well as the biggest airlines.
The nation's citizens can become members of parties
and associations and meetings can be held without
hindrance. Minority groups participate seamlessly in
political life and elections. Because of conservative
values in society, women are not as politically active
as men. Only a small proportion of the MPs are women (12
per cent after the 2017 election).
The Catholic Church has a strong position in the
country and abortion is prohibited by law.
Freedom of expression and media
The media represent a large number of political
opinions, have an independent position and can operate
relatively freely. However, the opposition often
criticizes the state-owned media for being government
friendly. According to Reporter Without Borders, it is
also a problem that independent media is dependent on
government advertising, which means that they risk being
exposed to government control.
In recent years, the threat to journalists
investigating power holders and political corruption has
increased. Investigative journalist Caruana Galizia was
killed in 2017 by a car bomb. Galizia examined suspected
corruption among senior politicians (see Current
policy). The murder was an order job and the legal
process dragged on at the time. Even in early 2020,
those who ordered the murder had not yet been
Following the murder of Caruana Galizia, Malta has
slipped down several places in Reporters Without
Borders' review of freedom of the press in the countries
of the world. The country was in place 47 in 2017 and
two years later collapsed to place 77 (see Reporters
without Borders list here). And in 2020, the Economist
Intelligence Unit placed Malta for the first time in the
category of defective democracy.
Maltese citizens have the right to access documents
available from government institutions. However, there
are a large number of exceptions linked to this right.
At the end of the 2010 Parliament passed new legislation
which meant that no one could be punished for defamation
by the President.
The EU has criticized Malta for not doing enough to
combat corruption despite the long-standing national
anti-corruption commission. Corruption is considered to
occur both at local and national authorities, as well as
among politicians at various levels. Assessors have
noted that it is a problem that large companies make
donations to political parties. A much-debated case was
before the 2017 election when a number of construction
companies made contributions to the Labor Party. The
Labor Party has since prioritized construction and
infrastructure projects in office.
Maltese politicians and officials have also been
investigated for corruption in connection with the
Panama scandal, where documents were leaked with
information about individuals and companies involved in
tax evasion. But the government has received criticism
from the European Parliament that too few leaks have led
to judicial investigations, which has led to high
ranking civil servants to escape scrutiny. The murdered
journalist Caruana Galizia (see above) wrote about
suspected corruption linked to the Panama leak and a
bank in Malta. According to Galizia, Prime Minister
Joseph Muscat and his wife were involved in suspected
money transactions. But both were released by a court in
Tax authorities in the country are also investigating
cases where Maltese politicians are suspected of hiding
assets in bank accounts in Switzerland, in contravention
of Maltese legislation requiring open accounting of
Since 2015, the country has collapsed in the
organization Transparency International's index of
perceived corruption in 180 countries and by 2019 the
country had slipped to place 50 from 54 the year before
Judicial system and legal security
Malta has a well-functioning and independent legal
system. That everyone has the right to a fair and public
trial is governed by the law. The country's prisons hold
international standards, but the UN Commissioner for
Refugees, the EU, Amnesty International and other
international organizations have repeatedly criticized
the Maltese authorities for holding refugees in camps
where living conditions are often difficult.
The death penalty was abolished in 1999.
Historical President goes out of time
Malta's first president Sir Anthony Mamo dies. Mamo played an important role
before Malta's independence from Britain in 1964. From 1971 to 1974 he was
Malta's last Governor-General. When Malta became a republic in 1974, Mamo became
the country's first president, a post he held until 1976.
Button win for the Nationalist Party
The Nationalist Party wins the parliamentary elections for the third time in
a row, but this time with very little margin.
Euro new currency
Malta, which has been involved in EMU cooperation since 2007, introduces the
euro as a currency.