Fact-check: Could 87,000 foreigners vote in the local council elections? - Featured image

Fact-check Malta: Could 87,000 foreigners vote in the local council elections?

With Malta’s local council elections having come and gone, some have taken to speculating about how many foreign nationals were eligible to cast their vote.

One particularly popular post in a local Facebook group claimed that 87,159 foreign nationals had the right to vote in the local council elections.

It’s unclear how the author of the post reached this figure but several people have written to Times of Malta in recent days to verify whether this is true.

In reality, the number of non-Maltese eligible to vote in last week’s local council elections is higher, at just under 100,000.

Who was eligible to vote?

Malta’s electoral law says that, aside from Maltese citizens, EU nationals residing in Malta can also vote to elect their local council.

The article in Malta’s Local Government Act explaining who is eligible to vote.

This means that people from all EU countries currently living in Malta were able to cast their vote.

The Electoral Commission confirmed to Times of Malta that this amounted to 77,490 EU nationals being granted a voting document for the local council elections.

These same EU nationals could have potentially also voted in the MEP election held on the same day, if they gave up their right to vote for the same election in their home country. Only some 15,000 of them did.

Aside from EU nationals, UK nationals living in Malta also have the right to vote for their local councils, meaning a further 22,113 British residents could have cast their vote.

This brings the total number of non-Maltese eligible to vote up to a total of 99,603.

Could third-country nationals vote?

No, aside from British residents, other third-country nationals were not eligible to vote in either the local council elections or the MEP elections.

This applies both to people from European countries outside the EU (such as the sizeable Serbian and Albanian communities in Malta) as well as those from outside the EU, such as the Indian, Filipino or Colombian residents in Malta.

How many people voted in total?

These 99,603 foreign voters were greatly outnumbered by the over 357,700 Maltese voters who could have cast their vote, bringing the total number of voters up to 457,343.

Ultimately, just under 60% of them turned up to vote on the day, with 272,607 people casting their vote last weekend.

An empty counting hall just before the count started on Wednesday. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Is this normal practice around Europe?

Yes, it is perfectly normal for European citizens living in another EU member state to be eligible to vote in that country’s municipal elections.

As EU-run information websites put it, EU nationals living in another EU country “will be voting under the same conditions as nationals”.

In practice, this means that Maltese citizens living in, for instance, Italy, can vote in Italian municipal elections in the exact same way as Italians. Likewise, Italians living in Malta can also vote in Malta’s local council elections in the same way as Maltese.

The same applies to all other EU member states.

The only difference between EU member states is whether EU nationals residing in that country are automatically added to the electoral register, or whether they have to pro-actively sign up to be on the list.

In Malta, like in many other EU countries, an EU national registered as residing in Malta is automatically enrolled on the electoral register.


A total of 99,603 non-Maltese voters were eligible to vote in last weekend’s local council elections, more than the 87,159 claimed in the Facebook post.

These include 77,490 EU nationals and 22,113 British nationals living in Malta.

Third-country nationals, including those from outside Europe and people from European countries outside of the EU were not eligible to vote. The only exception to this are UK nationals.

The regulations allowing EU nationals to vote in municipal elections held in other EU countries are common across all EU member states. So, just as EU nationals can vote in Maltese local council elections, Maltese citizens living in other EU countries can also vote in local elections within that country.

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Fact Check, Politics

Author(s): Neville Borg

Originally published here.