Malta's ballots through time
Malta is heading into the 23rd election in Maltese history; however the Maltese people have travelled along a long road to reach this point.
The first election in Malta was held in 1921, which saw the first democratically elected form of Government on the island. The result saw the Malta Labour Party, the Constitutionalist Party, the Democratic Nationalist Party and the Maltese Political Union be elected. An interesting fact about the first election, the recorded number of voters is 27,100, however further research, and as confirmed by Louis Fsadni who is in charge of the counting hall, revealed that the number was in fact 28,604
Malta had been granted the Amery-Milner Constitution which provided for Maltese self-government in domestic affairs, whilst the UK was responsible for national defence, foreign policy, foreign representation and other areas. The constitution was suspended in 1930 and again in 1932, however a new constitution called the MacDonald constitution, was introduced in 1939.
The electoral district boundaries are revised every five years, as read in the constitution, ensuring that there is no major difference in the number of voters in each district. In the first election, there were 8 districts, which eventually grew to the 13 Malta has today.
Over the years, Malta has moved from a multi-party to a bi-party system. In the 1950s and 1960s smaller parties managed to attain a substantial number of votes and on occasion, seats in Parliament. These smaller parties included the Constitutionalists, the Gozo Party, the Maltese Workers Party, the Democratic Action Party and the Christian Workers Party, however none lasted for longer than a few years. 1971 saw the PN and PL become the dominant parties in Maltese politics.
The voting system has essentially remained the same since its conception, with the exception of introducing new technology into the works.
Interestingly enough, there are a few districts which have constantly been won by the same party since 1950. The District 2, has always given more votes to the Labour Party, whilst District 13 has consistently voted Nationalists since 1962.
Malta has seen a large number of single party candidates including Imperium Ewropa, as well as independent candidates. Over 60 candidates have received a total of 10 votes or below in Malta's electoral history, with Spiridione Sant receiving 0 votes in 1987.
Prior to 1976, Malta had three days of voting, with the 1976 election spread over two days. All elections past 1976 had a voting timeframe of a single day. The island has witnessed a voting turnout of above 90% since 1971, with the lowest turnout recorded in 1945 where only 43% of those eligible to vote exercised their right to do so. In addition, the number of people who voted has constantly risen from 1971.
The country runs on a Single Transferable Vote System (STV), which allows for proportional representation. Under STV, voters have the choice among individual candidates rather than political parties and rank their candidates by preference.