The Progressive Post

🇲🇹 Malta’s 2024 European Elections: A Turning Point in Political Engagement


President of Labour Women within the Labour Party, Malta

Malta’s 2024 European elections have redefined the landscape of political engagement, blending local and European issues to challenge traditional perceptions and signal a shift towards greater voter expectations and progressive change.

The 2024 European elections in Malta have reignited the debate over their nature, as traditionally they were viewed as second-order elections and a platform for protest votes with lower stakes than national ones. However, European issues such as climate change, political fatigue, good governance and the cost of living have significantly influenced the local debate, reflecting a blend of local and European concerns.

The primary issues dominating Malta’s campaign were political fatigue, climate change and the cost of living. Voters were particularly concerned about environmental issues and showed growing awareness of the impact of increased construction and major infrastructural projects. These projects, while creating jobs, also caused inconveniences. The rising cost of living, driven by global inflation, was another major theme. Despite the Maltese government’s subsidies on electricity and fuels for over 24 months – making it the only EU country to maintain stable energy prices – debates still revolved around better wages and the impact of economic growth on population dynamics and labour conditions. When it comes to standard of living, while many people are concerned with bread-and-butter issues, which have been addressed in numerous ways, many voters are also concerned with other non-material priorities that impact their quality of life such as the environment, good governance, sustainability and fairness of their socio-economic well-being.

The Labour Party (Partit Laburista), Malta’s governing social democratic party, experienced a nine-point drop in support but retained a solid base, highlighting the resilience of social democratic ideals. Its success, however, was not as overwhelming as in previous elections, suggesting the electorate used the election to send a political message. While the Labour Party’s commitment to social justice and economic reforms resonated with many voters, there was also a palpable desire for more radical changes.

A surprising element of this election was the performance of independent candidates. The Green Party (Alternattiva Demokratika) and new progressive movements garnered more votes than expected, reflecting a diversification of political preferences among the Maltese electorate. This shift indicates a growing appetite for alternatives to the traditional two-party system, potentially paving the way for a more pluralistic political landscape in Malta.

Malta’s Nationalist Party (Partit Nazzjonalista) performed better than its poor showing in the 2019 EP elections, but not to the extent that the narrow gap between the parties would indicate.

The results in Malta echo broader trends across the EU. Increased voter turnout and engagement suggest that more citizens view the European Parliament as a crucial arena for addressing key issues. This shift could diminish the perception of European elections as secondary and elevate their importance in shaping the EU’s future. The performance of Social Democrats in Malta aligns with a broader pattern of social democratic resilience across Europe, despite the rise of right-wing populism in some regions.

For the EU, the Maltese results underscore the importance of addressing environmental, social justice and well-being issues at a pan-European level. The push for stronger climate action and economic reforms in Malta could influence EU-wide policies, reinforcing the need for a cohesive and forward-thinking approach. Moreover, independent candidates’ increased visibility and success might inspire similar movements in other member states, contributing to a more dynamic and representative European Parliament.

In conclusion, Malta’s 2024 European elections mark a pivotal moment in the island nation’s political evolution. Over the past 11 years, Malta’s governing party has enacted significant changes, including initiatives such as free childcare, enhanced civil rights (with Malta ranked first by ILGA-Europe), free public transport, increased pensions and higher student stipends, all while subsidising energy and fuels. Despite these achievements, the party experienced a notable voter exodus, which did not necessarily translate into increased support for the main nationalist opposition party. Having set a high standard, the Labour Party now faces heightened expectations from voters to implement further policy innovations. 

The emphasis on critical issues like climate change and the cost of living, coupled with the social democrats’ nuanced performance and the rise of independent candidates, signals a shift in voter priorities and political engagement. As Malta and the EU move forward, these elections highlight the growing importance of European Parliamentary elections and the potential for progressive change.

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