Maltese Prime Minister Dom Mintoff's Labour Party appeared to be heading for a narrow victory in the country's general elections when counting ended on Sunday (19 September).
Maltese Prime Minister Dom Mintoff's Labour Party appeared to be heading for a narrow victory in the country's general elections when counting ended on Sunday (19 September). With votes from four of the 13 electoral divisions counted, officials said there had been no discernible change from the election five years ago in which the Labour Party won a one-seat majority over the Nationalist Party.
SYNOPSIS: Months of noisy campaigning had produced an unprecedented bitterness between supporters of the Labour Party and the opposition Nationalist Party, led by Dr. George Borg Clivier. But the campaigning culminated in a 95 per cent voter turnout, the highest since the Second World War.
Prime Minister Mintoff, whose Labour Party has ruled the island for the past five years, sees its future as a bridge of co-operation between Europe and North Africa. Dr. Olivie???'s Nationalist Party however, is fearful of friendly overtures from Libyan Head of State, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, who has promised the island cash and defence guarantees. Dr. Oliver is determined to retain traditional links with western countries.
President Anthony Momo, who voted early, dissolved Parliament on the 13th of August, after it ran its five-year course. This made room for an increase in the number of seats in the House of Representatives from 55 to 65.
Although polling stations were not particularly busy on the second day of voting, many had five-hour queues the day before. The choice of parties could not have been easy for the electorate, especially on the issue of foreign bases in Malta. Both sides had said they would not renew the current North Atlantic Treaty Organisation base leasing agreement when it expires in March 1979. This would involve the loss to the island's fragile economy of some 14 million pounds sterling (25 million U.S. dollars) annually in rent. The island would also lose an estimated 22 million pounds (40 million U.S. dollars) spent by British defence personnel, no matter which party wins.