Monday, 5 June 2017

My analysis of the 2017 Maltese general election

Malta, part of the British Commonwealth and also the EU (along with Cyprus), held a general election recently, which in spite of all the whiffs of corruption around Labour, led by Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, led to another Labour victory.

The vote shares of the two dominant parties in Malta, the Labour Party and the Nationalist Party (Malta's conservatives) only increased slightly, by 0.21% and 0.34% in terms of first preference votes; Malta is one of only a handful of countries to use Single Transferable Vote at all levels. Because of the near-total dominance of the two parties, however, Malta has not been able to develop a multi-party parliament in the way Ireland has, even though all Maltese constituencies have 5 seats and Irish constituency sizes can vary from 3 to 5 seats. Malta also uses compensatory seats to make sure first preference votes match seats, a feature that does not exist in the Irish Dail.

Malta's Green Party, the Democratic Alternative, remained in third place but still gained no seats, and its vote share also dropped from 1.8% to 0.83%. Despite having originated as a split from Labour, it performs best in the strongest Nationalist districts of Malta, which are districts 09, 10, 11, and 12; these four districts all have a consistent and stable Nationalist majority whereas the other nine districts have Labour majorities throughout the majority of elections. This is analogous to Ireland as well where the Irish Greens have managed to perform best in middle-class urban seats usually dominated by Fine Gael and Fianna Fail and with limited Labour support. The Green Party of England and Wales, meanwhile, has not succeeded in winning over that many Green-minded Conservatives even in rural areas where it sometimes forms the only real opposition, despite having the potential to do so and in spite of the fact that many of the seats where it performed well in either are Conservative-held or have been in recent memory (Brighton Pavilion, Bristol West, and the Isle of Wight are clear examples of this). Other parties fared even worse, with their aggregate vote totals not managing to equal AD's. Maltese politics is very tribal; no parties other than Labour and the Nationalists have won any parliamentary seats since 1966 and turnout always exceeds 90%, although the 92% turnout for this election was slightly down from 2013 where the turnout was 93%.

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