Malta Democracy and Rights

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.

Abbreviated as MLT, 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 parties.

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 prosecuted.

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 July 2018.

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 assets.

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 (see here).

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.

Malta Immigration Statistics



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.