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Title: Malta's EU membership : chapter 1 concluded, chapter 2 just started
Authors: Pace, Roderick
Keywords: European Union -- Membership
European Union -- Membership -- Political aspects -- Malta
European Union -- Malta
Issue Date: 2004
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Citation: Pace, R. (2004). Malta's EU membership: chapter 1 concluded, chapter 2 just started. Mediterranean Politics, 9(1), 114-121.
Abstract: In May 2004 Malta joins the European Union. In the attainment of this goal Malta has experienced the most dramatic passage to membership. In July 1990 it applied for membership; in 1996 it suspended the application, only to revive it in 1998. It caught up with the other candidate countries to be the first to hold a referendum on membership, obtaining a positive result despite the extreme polarization of Maltese society over the issue. Indeed it was the first among the candidate countries to ratify the Accession Treaty. With one of the highest participation rates in politics in the world, characterized by competition between two political parties of more or less equal strength (the governing Nationalist Party – NP – and the opposition Malta Labour Party – MLP), an important issue such as EU membership was bound to become highly charged. On average 96 per cent of eligible voters participate in Maltese general elections, which are normally held every five years. All political issues tend to be intensely debated in the Maltese ‘polis’ and the electorate is a highly mobilized one by most standards. Undeniably, since 1987 the EU membership issue has dominated the Maltese political debate as few other issues have done before. Commentators have compared the intensity of this debate to three other highly contentious issues which preceded it in Malta’s post-war history: the debate on the proposal to integrate Malta with the United Kingdom (1955–58), the independence issue (1962–64) and the crisis over majority rule (1981–87).
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