The fallout from last year's Panama papers leak could spell the end of Joseph Muscat's premiershipby Charlie Askew / June 1, 2017 / Leave a comment
The most interesting election in Europe is about to take place—and it’s not in the UK.
A snap election has been called in Malta on June 3—a year ahead of schedule—following sensational corruption allegations against the Labour Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.
The once wildly popular government is tottering, following a series of scandals prompted by the Panama leaks almost exactly a year ago.
Even so, in contrast to other European elections, no extremists stand to gain control. Instead, in this fervent democracy—which has one of the highest voter turnout rates in Europe—the choice is as it has always been in the 50 years since independence from Britain: the Partit Laburista (Labour) on the centre-left, and the Partit Nazzjonalista (Nationalists) on the centre-right.
But the corruption allegations have set the tone for a campaign of bitter, internecine warfare.
Politics in Malta may be many things – parochial, patriarchal, patronage-based – but it is never boring.
The scandal includes investigations into massive alleged corruption among the family and close associates of Muscat and lurid claims by a Russian whistleblower of huge wealth transfers from Azerbaijan to off-shore shell accounts.
With the Opposition leader publicly arriving at the Magistrate’s office with 8 files of evidence, these events have been an all-consuming backdrop to the election campaign.
The allegations mark a difficult, and disappointing, turn for a government once entrusted with high levels of hope.
That hope stemmed from the unprecedented Labour result of the 2013 election. For years, voluntary turnout has b…