Published 7th March, 2013
The Nationalist Party or PN was founded in 1880 as part of the nationalist movement and was reorganised in 1926. The party describes itself as Centre-right and believes in Christian democracy, Liberal conservatism, Conservatism and Pro-European.
Between 1887 and 1903 the Nationalist Party held all elected seats in the Council of Government. There then followed a period of colonial rule until 1921 when the PN held a majority again until 1927.
From 1950 to 1955 the party was in coalition with the Workers’ Party of Paul Boffa. They won a parliamentary majority in 1962 and again in 1966 when they took 28 of the 50 seats in parliament under the leadership of George Borg Olivier and during this period, in 1964, Malta gained independence.
The party was narrowly defeated in 1971 and was out of government for the next two elections in 1976 and 1981**. The National Party gained a majority again in 1987 and also won the 1992 election, taking 34 of the 65 seats available.
Labour beat the Nationalists in 1996, but the PN were only out of office for two years and won again in 1998 when they took 35 seats to Labour’s 30 seats. In both the 2003 and the 2008 elections the Nationalist Party took 35 seats in a 65 seat parliament. But in 2008 the difference between them and Labour was one seat.
From late 2011 Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi found himself facing confidence votes as one of his parliamentary group, Franco Debono, rebelled against the government on a range of issues. In mid-December 2012 the government lost a budget vote and Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi called an election for 9th March 2013.
The Nationalist Party is a member of the Centrist Democrat International and the International Democrat Union (IDU). In the European parliament where it holds two of the six national seats it is part of the European People’s Party (EPP) grouping.
** In the 1981 general election the Labour Party won more seats than the Nationalist Party but with fewer votes. This created a constitutional crisis with the Nationalist Party boycotting parliament for 15 months. The constitution was amended so that a party winning a majority of votes would be given additional seats to allow it to govern. This has happened twice since 1981; in the 1987 election the Nationalist Party won 50.9% to the Labour Party’s 48.9% but had fewer seats, so they were allocated an additional four seats giving them 35 seats to 34 seats. In the 1996 election it was the Labour Party which had the largest vote at 50.7% to the national party’s 47.8% and then Labour were awarded the extra seats.