Malta. According to Countryaah, the Middle Left Party The Labor Party (PLM) and its leader Joseph Muscat won a landslide victory in the March 9 parliamentary elections and returned to power after 15 years in opposition. The Labor Party received close to 55% of the vote, giving them 39 of the 69 seats in the single-chamber parliament. It was the biggest victory for a single party in Malta since 1955. The outgoing Nationalist Party (PN) received just over 43% of the vote and 30 seats in the single-chamber parliament.
One of the incoming Prime Minister Muscat’s most important election promises was to reduce electricity prices by 25%. Malta has among the highest electricity prices in the world and relies on imported oil and coal for its energy supply. According to the energy plan that Muscat presented before the election, a new gas-fired power plant would be built in the country. Muscat also promised to strengthen the economy and fight corruption. Malta’s economic situation was good in 2013 compared to other southern European countries that experienced deep crises. Unemployment was among the lowest in the EU, just over 6%.
Following the PN’s major election loss, the party leader and outgoing Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi announced that he would leave the party leader post. He was succeeded in May by Deputy Party Leader Simon Busuttil.
In the autumn, the new Labor Party government made the controversial decision to sell citizenship to Malta – and thus the entire EU – to wealthy people outside the Union. Citizenship is expected to cost € 650,000 each and the purpose is to attract investors to the country. Parliament approved the proposal in mid-November by 37 votes to 30. The government expected around 300 people a year, including millionaires from the Russian Federation and China, to seize the opportunity. As early as 2013, it was said to have 45 potential buyers, which would give the Treasury around EUR 30 million. There are no conditions for citizenship, other than paying. The buyer has the right to bring a husband/ wife or other close relative at a discounted price of around € 185,000.
While Malta is opening up for citizenship purchases, the country has long been harshly criticized by human rights organizations and also by the EU for its restrictive refugee policy and for the harsh conditions of the camps in which asylum seekers are placed.
The opposition is against the government’s decision and criticizes the fact that there is no requirement that those who buy citizenship invest in Malta or even settle there. PN leader Simon Busuttil said he was considering collecting signatures to force a referendum on the issue. Malta is not alone in selling EU citizenship. Cyprus introduced the same opportunity earlier in the year and Austria provides citizenship to key investors. Some other EU countries offer residence permits to large investors.