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World > Europe > Malta > Government and Political Conditions (Notes)

Malta - Government and Political Conditions (Notes)


GOVERNMENT
Under its 1964 constitution, Malta became a parliamentary democracy within the Commonwealth. Queen Elizabeth II was sovereign of Malta, and a governor general exercised executive authority on her behalf, while the actual direction and control of the government and the nation's affairs were in the hands of the cabinet under the leadership of a Maltese prime minister.

On December 13, 1974, the constitution was revised, and Malta became a republic within the Commonwealth, with executive authority vested in a Maltese president. The president is appointed by parliament. In turn, he appoints as prime minister the leader of the party that wins a majority of seats in a general election for the unicameral House of Representatives.

The president also nominally appoints, upon recommendation of the prime minister, the individual ministers to head each of the government departments. The cabinet is selected from among the members of the House of Representatives, the number of which may vary between 65 and 69 members elected on the basis of proportional representation. The Constitution provides for general elections to be held at least every five years. Candidates are elected by the Single Transferable Vote system, where the surplus votes of an elected candidate are transferred to the candidate receiving the second preference votes. The process of vote transfers continues until all five candidates for a district are elected.

Malta's judiciary is independent. The chief justice and seventeen judges, two of whom are currently serving in international courts, are appointed by the president on the advice of the prime minister after consultation with the leader of the opposition. Their mandatory retirement age is 65. The highest court, the Constitutional Court, hears appeals in cases involving violations of human rights, interpretation of the constitution, and invalidity of laws. It also has jurisdiction in cases concerning disputed parliamentary elections and electoral corrupt practices. There is a civil court, a family court, and a criminal court. In the latter, the presiding judge sits with a jury of nine. The court of appeal hears appeals from decisions of the civil court and of various boards and tribunals, including the Industrial, Small Claims, and Consumers? Tribunal. The court of criminal appeal hears appeals from judgments of conviction by the criminal court. There are also inferior courts presided over by a magistrate.

The Local Councils Act, 1993 divided Malta into 54 localities and 14 in the small island of Gozo. Councilors are elected every three years by inhabitants who are registered as voters in the Electoral Register. Elections are held by means of the system of proportional representation using the single transferable vote. The Mayor is the head of the Local Council and the representative of the Council for all effects under the Act. The Executive Secretary, who is appointed by the Council, is the executive, administrative, and financial head of the Council. All decisions are taken collectively with the other members of the Council. Local Councils are responsible for the general upkeep and embellishment of the locality, local wardens, and refuse collection; they carry out general administrative duties for the Central Government, such as collection of Government rents and funds and answering Government-related public inquiries. The Act also provides for Councils to make, amend and revoke bye-laws as necessary for the better execution of the Councils? functions and to improve the localities? environment.

Principal Government Officials
President--Eddie Fenech Adami
Prime Minister--Lawrence Gonzi
Minister of Foreign Affairs--Michael Frendo
Ambassador to the United States--John Lowell
Ambassador to the United Nations--Victor Camilleri

Malta maintains an embassy in the United States at 2017 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008 (202-462-3611).


Facts at a Glance: Geography - People - Government - Economy - Communications - Transportation - Military - Current Time - Ranking Positions - Maltese Lira Exchange Rates
Notes and Commentary: People - Economy - Government and Political Conditions - Historical Highlights - Foreign Relations - Relations with U.S.



Facts at a Glance
Geography
People
Government
Economy
Communications
Transportation
Military
Current Time
Ranking Positions
Maltese Lira Exchange Rates


Notes and Commentary
People
Economy
Government and Political Conditions
Historical Highlights
Foreign Relations
Relations with U.S.





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