Malta’s Labor claims victory in general elections

FILE PHOTO: Malta's Prime Minister Abela March 26 in Floriana
FILE PHOTO: Malta’s Prime Minister and leader of the Labor Party Robert Abela addresses supporters at a political rally in Floriana, Malta, February 20, 2022, after the March 26 general election was called. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi/File Photo

March 27, 2022

VALLETTA (Reuters) – Malta’s ruling Labor Party won the Mediterranean island nation’s general election on Sunday, its third straight victory, and the main centre-right opposition Nationalist Party has conceded defeat.

The centre-left Labor Party had been supported by a strong economy and its handling of the COVID-19 crisis during the campaign for Saturday’s general election, in which government handouts have supported businesses and consumers.

“The indications are clear that the Labor Party has won a clear majority. We are blown away by the result,” Prime Minister and Labor leader Robert Abela told state broadcaster PBS.

Celebrations broke out in the counting hall in Naxxar, near the Maltese capital of Valletta, with supporters chanting “Robert, Robert”.

“Malta has given us a strong mandate,” said Labor Deputy Leader Daniel Micallef.

Local media said Labor appeared on course to repeat elections from 2013 and 2017, when it won a majority of around 55 percent.

This is the first electoral mandate for Abela, who became Labor leader and Prime Minister in January 2020.

He replaced Joseph Muscat, who resigned following the arrest of businessman Yorgen Fenech, who was accused of complicity in the 2017 assassination of anti-corruption blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Fenech had been a close friend of Muscat’s chief of staff, Keith Schembri. Both Muscat and Schembri denied having any prior knowledge of the murder.

Schembri was subsequently charged with money laundering and corruption. He has pleaded not guilty. The death of Caruana Galizia and the subsequent corruption probes shook Europe and raised questions about the rule of law in Malta, a member state of the European Union.

Abela has appeared largely unperturbed by repeated allegations of corruption by Bernard Grech’s Nationalist Party against his party. Like Abela, Grech is a lawyer.

(Reporting by Cristopher SciclunaEditing by Gareth Jones) Malta’s Labor claims victory in general elections

Bobby Allyn

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