Government and Politics
Malta is a republic with a democratic system of unicameral government. The titular Head of State is the President, who is appointed by the House of Representatives. The President's powers are set out in the Constitution of Malta, which also defines the functions and powers of the Parliament of Malta. Likewise, it sets out the structure and powers of the Courts and lists fundamental human rights and freedoms for individuals.
Legislative power lies in the hands of the House of Representatives whose 65 members are drawn from the two major political parties. Elections are held every five years, with the last election held in March 2008 where the current ruling party, the Nationalist Party headed by Prime Minister Dr Lawrence Gonzi was re-elected. Executive power is exercised by the Prime Minister and the Cabinet. The Prime Minister is usually the party leader commanding the greater support in the House. Every Maltese citizen who is over 18 years of age has the right to vote.
In May 2004, Malta became a full member of the European Union, making buying property and living in Malta more accessible to European citizens.