FILE PHOTO: Malta’s Prime Minister Robert Abela arrives for an extraordinary meeting of EU leaders to discuss the Ukraine and Russia situation at the European Council building in Brussels, Belgium February 17, 2022. Geert Vanden Wijngaert/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

March 26, 2022

VALLETTA (Reuters) – Polling stations opened on Saturday in Malta where the ruling Labour Party of Prime Minister Robert Abela is expected to win a third successive five-year term in an election to the 65-seat parliament.

Opinion polls have shown the centre-left Labour Party winning up to 55% of the vote thanks to a strong economy and the government’s management of the COVID-19 crisis, where state handouts helped businesses and consumers alike.

Abela has been largely unaffected by repeated allegations of corruption against the Labour Party made by the centre-right Nationalist Party led by Bernard Grech. Grech, like Abela, is a lawyer.

Just over 356,000 people are eligible to vote.

Malta has a proportional representation system and its politics are dominated by two political parties. All governments since independence in 1964 have been formed of a single-party majority.

The electoral system has been tweaked this year, lowering the minimum voting age to 16 from 18. Voting continues till 10 p.m. (2100 GMT) on Saturday with first results expected on Sunday morning.

(Reporting by Christopher Scicluna; Editing by Frances Kerry)

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