Labour victory has implications for EU

 

IN a remarkable election victory for the Labour Party the people of Malta have rejected membership of the EU and the island's VAT system.

The Labour victory was confirmed yesterday. The party's leader, Mr Alfred Sant (48), had claimed victory on Sunday as votes were counted in an election focused on his party's pledge to scrap VAT and end Malta's bid to join Europe. The former Nationalist Party prime minister, Mr Edward Fenech Adami, accepted defeat.

Official results from the poll, which drew a record 97 per cent of the near 275,000 electorate were being given to President Ugo Mifsud Bonnici.

Under Mr Sant's leadership, Malta can be expected to forge closer ties with North Africa, including Libya with which traditionally it has had close relations.

Except for VAT and pulling out of NATO's Partnership for Peace Programme, Mr Sant was not expected to roll back on many of the changes introduced under Mr Fenech Adami's preparations for EU membership.

"In the longer term, Labour has, commitments with Europe and there will be a need for many discussions between Malta and the EU to have the close relationship Sant talks about," said one political analyst.

"They (Labour) are also committed to have Malta as a financial centre and will want to maintain the confidence of the financial community," he added.

The Times newspaper termed the result, in which Labour overturned a record Nationalist majority of 13,000 votes and three seat majority in the 65 member parliament, "the biggest upset for a quarter of a century".