Labour clinches 39,474 majority in third consecutive victory where low turnout punished PN

Labour wins third consecutive election with 162,707 votes (55.1%); PN garners 123,233 (41.7%), Others 9,308 (3.2%)

Labour prime minister Robert Abela at the Labour HQ in Hamrun
Labour prime minister Robert Abela at the Labour HQ in Hamrun

Malta has elected a new administration, returning to power the Labour Party with Robert Abela as prime minister in an election that yielded a historically low turnout of 85.5%, down from 92% in 2017.

Labour clinched 55.1% of the popular vote, but with less votes than in 2017 at 162,707 owing to the low turnout. But that shyness at the polls punished the opposition Nationalist Party, who garnered 41.7% of the popular vote, 123,233 votes in total, leaving an unprecedented super-majority of 39,474 votes for Labour.

Voter turnout last dipped below 90% in 1966, when it stood at 89.7%.

Other parties, mainly the tiny green party ADPD, clinched a higher than usual vote. In total all non-elected parties garnered 9,308 (3.2%) votes.

The election produced clear surprises: MPs who backed a rebellion against former party leader Adrian Delia were not elected, namely Jason Azzopardi and Karol Aquilina, while Delia was elected on two districts.

Runners-up could still be elected in casual elections for seats vacated by MPs elected on two districts.

Incumbent Labour MPs Joe Mizzi, Glenn Bedingfield, and Rosianne Cutajar, as well as veteran foreign minister Evarist Bartolo, were not elected.

Election day on Saturday brought to an end a short 33-day campaign with well over 340,552 voters eligible to cast their votes.

Official turnout figures until 2pm showed that 44.8% of the electorate had voted, a decline of eight points over the 2017 election.

The campaign was fought mostly between the Labour Party, led by Prime Robert Abela, and the Nationalist Party, led by Opposition leader Bernard Grech.

Abela took over as PM after winning a party leadership battle with deputy prime minister Chris Fearne, after the disgraced exit of his predecessor, Joseph Muscat, in the wake of the arrest of magnate Yorgen Fenech.

Grech was himself the winner of a party leadership contest with predecessor Adrian Delia, who suffered a backbench rebellion in mid-2020. Delia, a backbench MP, is contesting on the eighth district

With 355,025 registered voters, a total of 14,473 voting documents remained uncollected – 4.1% of all eligible votes – almost double that of the 2.4% registered in 2017, and 2% in 2013.

22:23 Double constituencies: party leaders Robert Abela and Bernard Grech of course, Owen Bonnici, Miriam Dalli, Adrian Delia, Mark-Anthony Sammut, Clyde Caruana, Joe Giglio, Robert Arrigo Matthew Vella

5th district: PL 65.2%, PN 31.8%, Others 3%

Elected: Robert Abela, Bernard Grech, Miriam Dalli, Owen Bonnici, Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi

8th district: PL 44.4%, PN 52.2%, Others 3.4%

Elected: Clyde Caruana, Justin Schembri, Beppe Fenech Adami, Adrian Delia, Edward Zammit Lewis

5th district: PL 65.2%, PN 31.8%, Others 3%

Elected: Robert Abela, Bernard Grech, Miriam Dalli, Owen Bonnici, Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi

7th district: PL 55.5%, PN 41.4%, Others 3.1%

Elected: Ian Borg, Silvio Schembri, Julia Farrugia, Adrian Delia, Ryan Callus

8th District: PL 44.4%, PN 52.2%, Others 3.4%

Elected: Clyde Caruana, Justin Schembri, Beppe Fenech Adami, Adrian Delia, Edward Zammit Lewis

9th District: PL 40.6%, PN 55.9%, Others 3.4%

Elected: Clifton Grima, Joseph Giglio, Michael Falzon, Robert Arrigo, Ivan Bartolo

10th District: PL 37%, PN 58.6%, Others 4.3%

Elected: Joe Giglio, Robert Arrigo, Michael Falzon, Clifton Grima, Mark Anthony Sammut

11th District: 42.1%, PN 53.3%, Others 4.6

Elected: Bernard Grech, Miriam Dalli, Ivan Bartolo, David Agius , Alex Muscat

Matthew Vella
22:06 On the 2nd district, Labour holds with 71.2%, PN 26.3%, Others 2.5%. Elected Robert Abela (PL), Stephen Spiteri (PN), Clyde Caruana, Chris Agius, Alison Zerafa Civelli (PL) Matthew Vella
22:02 In the 3rd district, Labour holds with 69% and PN 27.7%, 3.2% for other parties. Elected: (PL) Chris Fearne, Owen Bonnici, Carmelo Abela, Andy Ellul; (PN) Stephen Spiteri. Matthew Vella
21:58 The Labour majority is now at 39,474 according to updates from the party, a 13.4% gap separating Labour from the PN (41.7%). Labour has kept all its eight districts, and the PN held on to five districts. Other parties got 9,308 votes (3.2%). Labour got 55.1% Matthew Vella
21:55 ADPD has registered 2.4% on the 12th district. Matthew Vella
21:54 In the 12th district, where the PN’s vote share fell below 50%, the Labour ministers Clayton Bartolo and Michael Farrugia have been elected; the PN elected Ivan Castillo, Robert Cutajar and Graziella Galea. Matthew Vella
21:53 Foreign minister Evarist Bartolo has lost his seat in the 12th district. Matthew Vella
21:46 On the fourth district, PN newcomer Mark Anthony Sammut pips the fiery Jason Azzopardi to the Nationalist seat...

Matthew Vella
21:39 Elected on the fourth district for Labour - deputy PM Chris Fearne, home affairs minister Byron Camilleri, Jonathan Attard, and newcomer Chris Bonett Matthew Vella
21:38 Elected on the 4th district, incumbent Labour MP Jonathan Attard, who was originally co-opted to the House. Matthew Vella
21:38 Also elected on the 7th district is Labour minister Julia Farrugia-Portelli. Matthew Vella
21:37 Labour transport minister Ian Borg has been elected from two districts, the sixth and seventh district, the first double-constituency for Borg. Matthew Vella
20:58 That means Labour minister Jose Herrera has not been elected on the 1st district. Matthew Vella
20:58 1st district: Labour get 60.1% of district, PN 37.6%, Others 2.4%. Elected: Keith Azzopardi Tanti (PL), Darren Carabott (PN), Mario de Marco (PN), Deo Debattista (PL), Aaron Farrugia (PL). Matthew Vella
20:54 Cassola votes in 10 District (with two boxes still to go): 397 Matthew Vella
20:53 Arnold Cassola votes in 11 District (with one box still to go): 478 Matthew Vella
20:38 On the 12th district, the elected candidates are Labour ministers Clayton Bartolo and Michael Farrugia, and Nationalist candidate (new) Ivan Castillo, and incumbents Robert Cutajar and Ivan Bartolo. Matthew Vella
20:36 Over 95% of boxes have been counted, with Labour now pollin 154,473 (55.3%), PN 116,276 (41.6%), and other parties 8,793 (3.1%), for a vote difference of 38,197 (13.7%) - the projected votes could be 162,496 to 122,096, and 9,252 votes for the other parties: a 40,400 vote difference for Labour. Matthew Vella
20:28 On the 12th district, Labour is registering 46.8% to PN’s 49.5%, which would mean the PN holds the district, but it falls below 50%, meaning a good vote for ADPD here: ‘others’ get 3.7% Matthew Vella
20:19 Vote counts: unofficial data so far puts Labour with 160,000 votes approx. and the PN at 120,000 votes, an unprecedented difference of 40,000.

Labour would have reduced its vote count by 10,000 compared to 2017, and the PN by 15,000, which is why the 2017 majority has increased from 35,000 to 40,000…

Clearly, many former PN voters in 2017 who were undecided stayed at home.

There were 355,075 registered voters, with an 85.5 % turnout meaning approximately 303,000 voters. Over 50,000 voters did not cast their ballot.
Matthew Vella
20:13 First district: Aaron Farrugia and Keith Azzopardi Tanti are frontrunners, with Jose Herrera and Deo Debattista neck-and-neck.  Matthew Vella
20:09 ADPD’s national vote could be anything between 1.5% to 1.7% now. Matthew Vella
20:02 Labour takes the sixth district with 60.6% of the vote, the PN 37.3%, and others 2.2%. Matthew Vella
20:01 Sixth district results: PN candidate (new) Jerome Caruana Cilia is elected with 4,662 votes, exceeding the 3,811 quota comfortably; followed by Labour minister Silvio Schembri, 4,287; Labour minister Roderick Galdes, 4035; Nationalist MP Ryan Callus, 2,727; and Labour minister Ian Borg with 2,050 votes. Matthew Vella
19:51 Link to the ADPD press conference. Matthew Vella
19:49 The Green Party ADPD says it is expecting to double its total votes since the 2017 dexpected to double its total votes since the last general election. But it also announced it will contest the result in court next week, saying that Malta’s electoral system will not recognise its increased vote tally to translate into a parliamentary seat.

Green party chairperson Carmel Cacopardo says that data available on 125,000 votes processed so far, ADPD could have won 4,500 to 5,000 votes - 1.3% of the national vote - almost double the 2,564 votes it received in the 2017 election and similar to what it had received in 2013, its highest ever showing.

Cacopardo said ADPD has had good showings on the ninth and 12th districts, where they fielded Mina Tolu and Mark Zerafa, and Luke Caruana and Sandra Gauci, respectively.

Cacopardo says the constitutional provisions of proportionality of seats when compared to votes should be amended so that the 5,000 votes received by ADPD translate into a seat in parliament. “They cannot be ignored,” Cacopardo said.
Matthew Vella
19:43 Labour could secure the 12th district, previously considered to be a safe Nationalist district. That would mean Labour holds on to its ‘red’ districts 1-7, and 13 (Gozo) and secure a ninth district majority. The 12th district includes Mellieħa, St Paul’s Bay and parts of Naxxar, and had the lowest voter turnout this election at 78%. If Labour wins this prize, it would be an indication of a major swing here, or a low Nationalist turnout. In 2017, the PN won the district with just 800 votes, taking three of the five seats. Matthew Vella
19:35 Joseph Muscat is celebrating down at St Julian's with Labour supporters outside the Tigullio complex. Matthew Vella
19:33 Volt Malta, which ran just two candidates in its first-ever local election, has pledged to grow by the 2024 MEP elections and to have candidates in every district by the next ġeneral election. “Expect us to continue growing, participating in the legislative process in every way we can and be a positive, constructive force in Maltese politics, no matter the election results,” the party said. Matthew Vella
18:12 Help us, Roberta. Please...

PN deputy leader for party affairs Robert Arrigo, who was nowhere to be seen in the counting hall today, is appealing to Roberta Metsola to help the PN (that is, when are you coming home to us Roberta?)
Matthew Vella
17:07 Independent candidate Arnold Cassola gave a brief statement to the media on his performance in the election so far. On the two districts he’s contesting he’s won over 2% of the vote share, although several boxes are yet to be counted. He added that both parties lost votes in absolute terms, with Labour supporters in particular reaching out to him in this election.

”This was the first time I’ve had Labour supporters telling me they’d consider voting for me,” he said.
Nicole Meilak
16:57 So there you go... speech over: humility, higher stands, and intolerance for arrogance are the keywords that will be marking the Abela administration, going by the short speech of the Labour leader. Matthew Vella
16:56 “We want to address the country’s new priorities: quality of life, opportunity for all, and a more beautiful Malta. Let’s turn those 1,000 proposals in 1,000 gains.” Matthew Vella
16:55 “To those who were sceptical of giving us their trust... we want to convince you, with our humility... I will not tolerate any arrogance from anyone.” Matthew Vella
16:54 “The country also needs those who did not vote and who voted for the Nationalist Party. Let’s keep working together in the spirit of national unity.” Matthew Vella
16:53 “We had five years of results and challenges... humility will be what characterises us. I will insist on humility with anyone who is part of this administration. We are here for you, and not you for us...” Matthew Vella
16:52 “We need to redeem the trust you have placed in us with much humility and work for you.” Matthew Vella
16:51 Robert Abela is addressing Labour supporters at the Mile End headquarters in Hamrun. Matthew Vella
16:18 We have some very preliminary and unofficial data from first counts, but at 33% of the count, so the process is still ongoing. Again, this data is unofficial, but we are seeing the following make good shows as frontrunners:
(1) Mario De Marco, (2) and (3) Stephen Spiteri, (4) Mark Anthony Sammut, (5) and (11) Bernard Grech, (6) Jerome Caruana Cilia, (7) Adrian Delia, (8) Beppe Fenech Adami, (9) and (10) Joe Giglio and Robert Arrigo in both districts, (12) Ivan Castillo, and (13) Alex Borg.
Matthew Vella
16:10 First reaction from the PN’s head of strategy Chris Peregin...

Matthew Vella
15:38 Bernard Grech’s first comments to the press: “We certainly need elections that are free of vote-baiting gimmicks such as the pay-out of cheques... the country certainly needs a stronger PN more than ever.”
Grech said he respected the people’s decision, but alleged that Labour had used corrupt practices to win the election. “I think the authorities should investigate. No country in the world has a prime minister who sends out cheques to the people a week before the election,” Grech said, referring to the distribution of COVID relief cheques and tax refunds in mid-March.”
Grech admitted that the PN had also suffered a protest vote of sorts, but added that the absence of 50,000 electors from the election signified “a clear detachment of the public from politics”.
“I will be the voice of all those who gave the party their trust, as well of those who did not participate in the election... I will keep on working to bring more people closer to the party, and I will include those people who have not been elected.”
Matthew Vella
15:28 Bernard Grech is giving more comments in the counting hall. Watch below.

Nicole Meilak
15:27 Meanwhile, Labour is projecting a 41,000 vote majority - according to its own media station. ONE is reporting the landslide projection on its TV station. This would be Labour's largest victory in recent years, with an almost 56% majority. Nicole Meilak
15:24 Earlier today Joseph Muscat gave brief comments to Labour's He seems to have posted his full electoral salutation on Facebook, saying the PN needs to revamp itself while government needs to remain humble.
Nicole Meilak
15:03 Bernard Grech has made it a point to be at the counting hall in this most trying of hours, greeting most of the PN activists and also Labour activists inside the counting hall. Matthew Vella
14:56 Bernard Grech is making the rounds all around the counting hall. He greeted members of the press inside the press room, greeting this journalist with quite the quip: "Awguri... may you get five more years of interviews," in a witty reference to Robert Abela's refusal to accept to be individually interviewed by the press. Matthew Vella
14:46 The air is heavy inside the PN quarters at the counting hall in Naxxar. Bernard Grech is being greeted by well-wishers and activists with respectful silence, as the leader shakes their hands or hugs them. Quite morose. Matthew Vella
14:41 Bernard Grech is about to enter the Naxxar counting hall. Stay tuned, or watch it live on Facebook.

Matthew Vella
14:13 On Instagram, Joseph Muscat celebrates from home with his two daughters. "Malta has spoken again," he says.

Muscat was himself at the helm of the Labour Party at their last landslide victory in 2017. He stepped down in 2019 after his own chief of staff Keith Schembri stepped down. Schembri resigned when Yorgen Fenech was arrested on suspicion of having masterminded Daphne Caruana Galizia's murder.
Nicole Meilak
13:49 And outside the counting hall, supporters have flocked to Ħamrun dressed in red and waving party flags. One car was spotted with a red t-shirt on the front, with the words "God save the king: and a photo of Joseph Muscat printed on it.
Nicole Meilak
13:40 ROBERT ABELA'S FIRST COMMENTS: Abela has arrived at the counting hall. He said that the result puts more responsibility on the Labour Party. "We need to be humble and work to create wealth for Maltese and Gozitans." He said the Labour government will appeal for national unity and work in the national interest. "Thank you for your trust." Nicole Meilak
13:30 Robert Abela is expected to come to the counting hall any minute now. We're live-streaming his arrival on Facebook.
Nicole Meilak
13:19 Meanwhile at the counting hall: Two Labour counting agents supervise the electoral process at Naxxar. This might not be Drive to Survive, but some are certainly in survival mode as the sorting and counting process continues.
Nicole Meilak
13:14 It wasn't just Robert Abela receiving a presidential call today. President George Vella called Bernard Grech to thank him for his contribution to the election, and wished him well as Leader of the Opposition. Nicole Meilak
13:04 We've been collecting reactions from Labour Party candidates and officials. Edward Zammit Lewis said the win bodes well for Labour's leadership under Robert Abela. "It's a certificate for Robert Abela and for the government."

Miriam Dalli said the result means the Labour Party must work even more in the next five years to address several issues. Silvio Schembri commented that people don't want negative politics - "This is evident when you see the campaigns of the Nationalist and Labour Party."

Michael Farrugia said the Labour Party will humbly implement its manifesto, while Clint Camilleri thanked voters and said that he thinks the people appreciated the party's work over the past legislature.
Nicole Meilak
12:51 Our journalist Luke Vella went straight to Mile End to hear what Labour supporters had to say about the electoral victory. One supporter said that the low turnout could be the result of higher political apathy among the electorate. Overall, supporters expected the win and said the party created a lot of wealth for the country.
Nicole Meilak
12:42 In a post-loss message, PN leader Bernard Grech said the party will lend a voice to the thousands who put their trust in the Nationalist Party, as well as to those who did not vote in this election.
"I will stay on, to give my service. I will contest the leadership once again to propose an alternative government."
The Nationalist Party statute says that it must hold a leadership election after every election loss. It seems that Grech will contest this election - but who could the other contenders be?
Nicole Meilak
12:19 Meanwhile, the President of Malta George Vella rang up Robert Abela to congratulate him on the win and wish him well in the role. Nicole Meilak
11:53 Bernard the Greek: Labour Party supporters came out with leaflets in the counting hall, taking a jab towards PN leader Bernard Grech. The leaflet plays on an old comment made by Grech, when he said that he would tell people he was Greek while on holiday because he felt ashamed to call himself Maltese. He had also mistakenly said he "remembers" (niftakar) the Great Siege of 1565 during his first Budget speech - he actually meant to say "reminds" (infakkar).
Nicole Meilak
11:37 Another few comments from Labour candidates: Aaron Farrugia said the Labour Party needed a clear and strong mandate to fulfill its manifesto - and it certainly got it. Byron Camilleri similarly said that the party must continue what it started on Monday. Carmelo Abela added that the Labour Party led the country through the COVID-19 pandemic with flying colours, contributing to the party's good standing among the electorate. Nicole Meilak
11:19 We’ve gotten a few soundbites from Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne and Labour Party deputy for party affairs Daniel Micallef. Fearne said that the low turnout is high by European standards, but the demographics among these non-voters needs to be evaluated, such as their age groups. Micallef celebrated the absolute majority. “Like others, I work so that we can win. The people’s trust is reflected in the result. Nicole Meilak
11:04 Here's a clip of the celebrations in the counting hall the moment the result was announced by party officials. Supporters near the Labour Party headquarters are also celebrating with a large crowd and music.
Nicole Meilak
11:02 This is the third consecutive win for the Labour Party. People are chanting Viva l-Labour in the observation hall. Nicole Meilak
11:00 And the result has been announced. There's banging on the perspex screens in the counting hall. It is a clear victory for the Labour Party yet again. Nicole Meilak
10:55 Labour election experts Michael Falzon and Louis Gatt are in the counting hall now, emerging from the data room, where they will be finalising the projected result. Nicole Meilak
Matthew Vella
10:40 Just in: The Labour Party is projecting a repeat landslide of their 2017 result despite a historic low turnout. Nationalist Party officials speaking to MaltaToday conceded that sampling so far resembles the 2017 landslide victory. Nicole Meilak
10:03 Here's a sneak peek of the counting process underway in Naxxar:
Nicole Meilak
10:02 With the new system in place, sampling being taken by the parties, through their runners monitoring the first-preference votes, is slow: they still need to get more data in to have a good estimate of the vote. Before, the process was rather straightforward: 50 ballots from each of the ballot boxes, and a projected result would be computed from that data. Matthew Vella
09:37 Labour seems to be preparing for celebrations at their Mile End headquarters in Ħamrun...
Nicole Meilak
09:33 Sorting starts at the counting hall.

Matthew Vella
09:25 Ballots are now being sorted one by one, with counting agents monitoring the sorting. Counting has not yet started. Matthew Vella
09:04 Sorting is about to start

Matthew Vella
09:01 Just in: 51,478 electors did not vote. No small percentage there! Matthew Vella
08:55 Labour top brass, deputy leader for party affairs Daniel Micallef, PL president Ramona Attard, incumbents and top party staff are here, as well as top PN candidates and aides to Bernard Grech and party officials. Matthew Vella
08:48 Candidates are also arriving to monitor the counting process. Matthew Vella
Matthew Vella
08:44 Good morning everyone, Labour and Nationalist Party agents are entering the counting hall proper to get ready for the start of the counting of ballots.

Matthew Vella
07:03 We have a great survey in MaltaToday this morning, where we polled respondents this week on which candidate they will be giving their first preference. Kurt Sansone is giving a rundown of that data here.

Matthew Vella
06:29 Here is Kurt Sansone at the counting hall with a quick explainer (in Maltese).

Matthew Vella
05:26 In the 2nd District, where the turnout until 2pm on Saturday was dismally low, the final turnout by 10pm had risen to 87.1%. The highest turnout was in the 7th District, where 88% of voters went out to vote, followed by the 3rd District, where 87.9% cast their ballot. Matthew Vella
05:26 Gozo, which is a distinct electoral district and shifted Labour in the last election, saw a turnout of 86.1%, a decline of 5.5 points. The district with the lowest turnout was the 12th District where 78.4% of voters turned out to vote. This was followed by the 10th District, where 81.6% of voters cast their ballot. Matthew Vella
05:26 A district by district analysis of the turnout shows that in the Labour leaning districts from 1 to 7, the average turnout stood at 87.2% (-6 points over 2017), while the average in the Nationalist leaning districts from 8 to 12 stood at 83.1% (-7.6 points). Matthew Vella
05:26 The turnout is 6.6 points lower than the 2017 election with almost 52,000 voters opting to stay at home. Matthew Vella
05:26 You can that voters ignored incessant appeals by Robert Abela and Bernard Grech to go out and vote. The final turnout figure communicated by the Electoral Commission is far below what any of the two parties were expecting, although MaltaToday’s rolling survey had been projecting a historically low turnout throughout the election campaign. Matthew Vella
05:18 Matthew Vella
05:14 District 12 is, as has happened in previous elections, projected to have the country’s lowest turnout, at 78.38%. Projections also suggest turnout lower than the national average in districts 10 (81.59%), nine (84.35%) and 11 (84.79%). Matthew Vella
05:14 The highest projected turnouts were in the seventh district (88.02%), third district (87.85%) and sixth district (87.35%), with the fifth district – a district in which both Robert Abela and Bernard Grech appeared on the ballot sheet – also projected to register a relatively high turnout of 87.19%. Matthew Vella
05:12 It marks the lowest turnout in Malta’s post-independence general election history, even if it remains extremely high by western democratic standards. Voter turnout last dipped below 90% in 1966, when it stood at 89.7%. Matthew Vella
05:11 MaltaToday's first survey of the election had predicted that the share of valid votes cast (not turnout) was expected to be 84%, a considerable drop from the 90.9% it was in the last general election. The first survey of the electoral campaign showed Labour suffering from higher voter abstention within its ranks, when compared to the 6 February survey. Matthew Vella
05:03 We are yet to update the story, but the data is right here: check out the district turnouts. Matthew Vella
05:01 Good morning. The big news today is that the official turnout for the 2022 election is at 85.5%. Matthew Vella