The election of members of the House of Representatives is the sole responsibility of the Electoral Commission as established by Article 60 of the Constitution of the Republic of Malta. The holding of such elections is regulated by the General Elections Act (Cap. 354 of the laws of Malta).
The electoral system existing since 1921 and sanctioned by various constitutions is that of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote (STV).
The Maltese Islands are divided into 13 electoral divisions each returning 5 members to the House of Representatives. A list of eligible voters, in the form of an electoral register, is revised and published every April and October in the Government Gazette. When elections are called, either by means of a Writ under the hand of the President of the Republic, or, in the case of Local Councils Elections by a Notice by the Electoral Commission, a rolling electoral register must be published within five days of the Writ or Notice that would include qualified persons who would be reaching the age of 18 years (or 16 years for local councils) up to the eve of the established polling day. Based upon this rolling register, the Electoral Commission prints and distributes voting documents to voters at their registered addresses. The Electoral Commission proceeds to carry out all the adminsitrative and organizational functions necesssary to ensure the correct and smooth-running of such elections. The Electoral Commission proceeds to carry out all the administrative and organizational functions necessary to ensure the correct and smooth-running of such elections.
A law providing for the setting-up of Local Councils was passed through Parliament in 1993 (Act XV) establishing 67 localities, 53 in Malta and 14 in Gozo. In December 1999 an amending Act (XXI) added a new locality (the 68th) – Mtarfa. The first elections, always based on the same STV principle used in general elections, were held between November 1993 and May 1994 while the first election for councillors of Mtarfa was held in March 2000. The 1999 amendment also included an additional Schedule listing ten hamlets within established localities. These are Fleur-de-Lys in Birkirkara, Santa Luċija in Kerċem, Gwardamanga in Pietà, Paceville in San Ġiljan, Kappara in San Ġwann, Ibraġ* and Madliena in Swieqi, Marsalforn in Żebbuġ, Gozo, Bubaqra in Żurrieq and Xlendi in Munxar.
Until 2009, staggered local elections for 22 or 23 localities were held every March such that every council was voted in for a period of 3 years. Except that in 2004 and 2009, elections due were postponed to June to coincide with the national elections to select five members for the European Parliament (MEPs). Local Councils Elections results are available here.
The number of councillors for each locality is determined according to the population in the locality, where 5 is the minimum and 13 the maximum number of councillors. For various reasons, including deaths, a number of seats are vacated throughout the year. The Electoral Commission undertakes to carry out the resultant Casual Elections to replace the councillors or committee members. When no candidates are forthcoming or no one is elected, the seat is allocated by co-option.
Between 1993 and 2003, British citizens satisfying the electoral qualifications as set out in the Local Councils Act were entitled to stand as candidates and to vote for their respective council, together with Maltese electors. From 2004, these rights were extended when the list of eligible voters included all EU nationals, resident in the Maltese Islands, who are registered and possess a Maltese identity card. As new countries join the EU over the years, the voting entitlement is extended to residents having those nationalities, the latest one being Croatia which became an EU member state in July, 2013. Registered Croation persons were therefore seen as registered voters for their Councils as from the October 2013 electoral register.
Further legal amendments have established that local councils' term of office should be raised from 3 to 4 years. For this reason the terms of office of same councils were extended such that half of Malta and Gozo's council elections were held in March 2012 with the remaining half in March 2013. These would be repeated respectively in 2015 and 2017. Thirty four council elections were held in April 2015 in Birżebbuġa, Floriana, Għajnsielem, Ħad-Dingli, Ħal Għargħur, Ħal Kirkop, Ħal Luqa, Ħal Safi, Ħal Balzan, Ħal Qormi, Ħ'Attard, Ħaż-Żebbuġ, il-Birgu, il-Gżira, il-Ħamrun, il-Marsa, il-Mosta, il-Munxar, il-Qala, in-Nadur, Is-Siġġiewi, is-Swieqi, ix-Xagħra, iż-Żebbuġ (Għ), iż-Żurrieq, l-Iklin, l-Isla, Marsaxlokk, Paola, San Ġiljan, San Lawrenz, San Pawl il-Baħar, Santa Luċija and Ta' Kerċem. The Local Councils Act was amended in 2014 such that as from January, 2015, both Maltese and EU citizens who attained the age of 16 years would be included as voters. In fact, 4,485 persons aged 16 to 18 years were entitled to vote in the April 2015, local council elections (34 localities). Of these, 62.3% cast their vote. A bill to amend the Local Councils Act proposes that all 68 council elections shall be grouped together and held once every five years, with the first such elections being held in the year 2019.The enabling law is Chapter 363 of the Laws of Malta.
* The status of Ibraġ as a hamlet was removed by means of Legal Notice 179 of 2010.
By means of Legal Notice 54 of 2010, the Hon. Prime Minister issued specific regulations for the establishment of Communities within local councils and for the election of their Administrative Committees each consisting of five members.
The first set of elections for eight of the already established communities were held on Saturday 27th March, 2010. However, voting only took place in seven communities since the five candidates for Santa Luċija in Kerċem were declared as elected without contestation. Voting and counting took place in Bubaqra (Żurrieq), Paceville (San Ġiljan), Madliena (Swieqi), Kappara (San Ġwann), Fleur-de-Lys (Birkirkara), Marsalforn (Żebbug) and Xlendi (Munxar).
Legal Notice 227 of 2010 then established another eight communities making them 16 in total. With the exception of St Peter's (Żabbar), where only three candidates stood for election, the elections for five members each from the communities of Gwardamangia (Pieta’), Ħal-Farruġ (Luqa), Baħrija (Rabat), Tal-Virtu’ (Rabat), Swatar (Birkirkara and Msida), Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq (Naxxar) and Burmarrad (San Pawl il-Baħar) were successfully held on 5th June, 2010. Following a fresh call for applications by the Electoral Commission, for the two remaining seats on the St Peter's Committee, no election was necessary as the two candidates nominated were declared elected without contestation. A first step taken that merits mentioning is that in these 2010 elections no voting documents were issued. Voting was possible by the presentation of one's identity card, after verification against the pre-printed voters' lists (with photograph). Furthermore, the vote counting of these hamlets took place on the same day at the voting centre (and not at a centralized complex).
The whole set of sixteen committees' were due for new elections in 2014. Government Notice No. 129 (Government Gazette dated 7th February, 2014) established Saturday, 24th May, 2014, as the date on which these sixteen elections were due (to coincide with the European Parliament elections). However, actual voting took place only in five of the hamlets since for the remaining eleven communities there were only five or less candidatures in each hamlet. Voting took place for Gwardamanġa, Tal-Virtu', Madliena, Kappara and Swatar. The counting of votes took place on 31st May, 2014. No elections were held for Burmarrad, Marsalforn (G), Baħrija, Santa Luċija (G), Xlendi (G), Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq and St Peter's because there were five candidatures in each - exactly as the number of seats. However, calls made for fresh nominations proved futile as there was no response. The vacant seats in Bubaqra (4), Paceville (4), Fleur-de-Lys (4) and Hal Farrug (2) would be taken up by co-opted persons.
Act XVI of 2003 provided for the first-ever holding of elections of members to the European Parliament. This was held on Saturday 12th June, 2004.
The Electoral Commission published a new European Union Electoral Register after it drew the attention of EU citizens resident in Malta and of Maltese nationals residing in EU member countries that they could apply to be listed in this register to eventually be able to vote in Malta to elect five members to the European Parliament. Again, the voting system applied was by Single Transferable Vote and most of the regulations were similar to the ones used in general elections. In fact, Section 21 states that the conduct of elections and the counting of votes shall apply according to the provisions in the General Elections Act. A basic difference was that the Maltese Islands were considered as one electoral district.
For the June 2004 MEPs Election twenty-seven candidates contested the five seats. While 5 persons stood as independent candidates, the other 22 contested under the names of 7 parties. A second election for MEPs was held on the same lines on Saturday 6th June, 2009. This time there were thirty-four candidates running for the five seats. None stood under the "independent" banner and in fact the candidates ran under the following parties or movements: Alleanza Liberali (1 candidate), Alpha Liberal Democratic Party (1), Alternattiva Demokratika - The Green Party (2), Azzjoni Nazzjonali (3), Imperium Europa (2), K.U.L. Ewropa (1), Libertas Malta (1), Partit Laburista (12), Partit Nazzjonalista (10) and Partit tal-Ajkla (1).
The European Parliament ratified the period in which the 2014 elections were to be held as between the 22nd and 25th of May, 2014. Therefore, in the case of Malta, the election was held on Saturday, 24th May, 2014. 32 candidates stood for six seats as follows: Ajkla (1 candidate), Alleanza Bidla (2), Alleanza Liberali (1), Alternattiva Demokratika (2), Imperium Europa (3), Partit Laburista (12), Partit Nazzjonalista (11). The six successful candidates were three from the Partit Laburista and three from the Partit Nazzjonalista - Full results may be viewed here. The next elections for the European Parliament are due in 2019.
The objective of the Referenda Act (Cap.237) is for registered voters to decide either whether they approve a proposal or proposals set out in a resolution passed by the House of Representatives or whether they agree that a provision of law should be abrogated.
On the 8th of March, 2003, the electorate was asked to decide by means of a referendum on the proposal that Malta becomes a member of the EU on its enlargement due on 1st May, 2004. The outcome was that Malta should become an EU member state with 143,094 votes in favour and 123,628 votes against. Click here to view the result. Prior to this, the last-held national referendum had taken place 39 years before. This concerned the confirmation of the Independence Constitution. Another national referendum was held on Saturday 28th May, 2011. The question was to establish whether the electorate agreed on the introduction of divorce. The outcome was 232,691 votes in favour and 230,518 votes against, as can be seen here.
On the 11th April, 2015, the first abrogative referendum ws held in the Maltese Islands on whether one agreed or not to retain the EU derogation allowing hunting for turtle doves and quail in Spring. The result was 126,434 in favour and 124,214 votes against, thus retaining the derogation. Click here to view the result.