Malta had the second highest voter turnout in the world (and the highest for nations without mandatory voting), based on election turnout in national lower house elections from 1960 to 1995.
The unicameral House of Representatives, (Maltese: Kamra tad-Deputati), is elected by direct universal suffrage through single transferable vote every five years, unless the House is dissolved earlier by the President on advice of the Prime Minister.
The House of Representatives is made up of sixty-nine Members of Parliament. However, where a party wins an absolute majority of votes, but does not have a majority of seats, that party is given additional seats to ensure a parliamentary majority.
The Constitution of Malta provides that the President appoint as Prime Minister the member of the House who is best able to command a (governing) majority in the House.
The President of Malta is appointed for a five-year term by a resolution of the House of Representatives carried by a simple majority. The role of the President as head of state is largely ceremonial.
The main political parties are the Nationalist Party, which is a Christian democratic party, and the Labour Party, which is a social democratic party.
The Nationalist Party is currently at the helm of the government, the Prime Minister being Lawrence Gonzi.
The Labour Party, with Joseph Muscat as its leader, is in opposition. There are a number of smaller political parties in Malta that presently have no parliamentary representation.
Until World War II Maltese politics was dominated by the language question fought out by Italophile and Anglophile parties.
Post-War politics dealt with constitutional questions on the relations with Britain (first with integration then independence) and, eventually, relations with the European Union.