The Labour Party has won the 2024 MEP elections, but it was bruised and battered by an electorate that decimated its lead. 

The party lost its fourth MEP seat to the Nationalist Party and won less than 50% of the vote for the first time in years. 

After the final votes were counted, the gap between the parties stood at 8,454 votes. 

By contrast, Labour won the previous MEP election in 2019 with a 42,000-vote majority. 

Labour leader Robert Abela said it was a "solid" victory but that voters had sent the party an "important message". Nationalist leader Bernard Grech said it was his party's “best ever” showing in the European Parliament elections. 

Roberta Metsola (PN) and Alex Agius Saliba (PL) were elected on the first count. They will be joined in the European Parliament by David Casa and Peter Agius for the PN and Daniel Attard and Thomas Bajada for Labour. 

As it happened

Six takeaways from election Sunday

10.20pm This live blog will end here. It's been a ride, thank you for having joined us.

If you're joining late, here are six key takeaways from the day's events:

  1. Labour won, but by just 8,400 votes, upending predictions that forecast a much bigger majority.
  2. For the first time in over a decade, Labour won less than 50% of the total vote.
  3. MEP seats were split 3-3 between the two main parties, with independent Arnold Cassola narrowly losing out.
  4. Malta's six MEPs will be: Alex Agius Saliba, Daniel Attard and Thomas Bajada for PL; Roberta Metsola, David Casa and Peter Agius for PN. 
  5. Turnout was similar to 2019, at just under 73%.  Around 100,000 registered voters (out of a total voter base of 370,000) did not take part.
  6. With over 87,000 first-count votes, Roberta Metsola became Malta’s most voted MEP candidate ever since Malta joined the EU. Alex Agius Saliba, with 63,899 votes, smashed Labour records for MEP elections.  

Love Island at the counting hall

10.14pm The Electoral Commission will not be announcing final figures until at least 11pm. They say it's an EU-mandated rule. Word of that sent groans throughout the counting hall.... but delegates soon found a way of keeping themselves occupied. 

One of the TVs is now airing the latest episode of this season's Love Island.

Love Island at the counting hall.Love Island at the counting hall.

Alex Agius Saliba celebrates record vote 

10.11pm Earlier, we wrote that Roberta Metsola (PN) smashed MEP voting records. Alex Agius Saliba has achieved a record of his own, too. With 63,899 first count votes, he is the Labour candidate with the most first count votes in MEP electoral history. 

Jason Micallef dissects the result

10.05pm Jason Micallef has written a long post breaking down the reasons why he believes the Labour Party is going to bed licking its wounds tonight. 

He begins by emphasising that this was the first PL campaign in 25 years "in which I was absolutely not involved". He then proceeds to rattle off a list of things he thinks the party did wrong: from a lack of coordination with government agencies to a "confused" response to the Vitals inquiry.

"I am convinced that a majority of Labourites felt that Joseph Muscat, Chris Fearne and Edward Scicluna were left alone," he says. 

Micallef - a keen Facebook user - is also less than impressed by the use of social media by some ministers. They're like "teenagers", he says. 

Meanwhile, in France

9.54pm If you thought events in Malta were seismic, take a look at France.

Marie Le Pen's far-right National Rally obtained more than twice the votes of Emmanuel Macron's camp. And Macron has responded by dissolving parliament and calling a parliamentary election. 

Computers go haywire

9.43pm Some comic relief at the Naxxar counting hall. It seems computers used to display results have gone bonkers. 

After an interminable loading time, monitors displayed the wrong elected candidates. Only one of the six listed - Roberta Metsola - is actually Strasbourg-bound. 

As the cheers turned to jeers and boos, the computers lost the plot entirely and appeared to go offline. 

The running joke inside the counting hall is to call the IT repair centre that gave Alex Agius Saliba vouchers to distribute.

Computers displayed the incorrect list of elected candidates.Computers displayed the incorrect list of elected candidates.

Oh dear.Oh dear.

Thomas Bajada: I will practice a humble politics

9.33pm We caught up with Bajada just as he was declaring victory. 

He told us that he thinks the key difference that got him attention among voters is the fact that he sought to listen to them as they recounted their experiences. 

"Political parties must listen to people and their experiences," he said. He brushed aside suggestions that he benefited from Joseph Muscat's failure to endorse him. 

Thomas Bajada speaks. Video: Matthew Mirabelli

David Casa and Peter Agius elected 

9.22pm PN candidates David Casa and Peter Agius will join Roberta Metsola in Brussels. 

It's a fifth consecutive MEP term for Casa and a first for Agius, who was contesting for the second time. 

Daniel Attard and Thomas Bajada elected

9.17pm Labour candidates Daniel Attard and Thomas Bajada have declared victory - they will join their colleague Alex Agius Saliba in Brussels. 

Both - especially Bajada, a technocrat - are new to frontline politics. 

Daniel Attard and Thomas Bajada are carried by PL delegates. Photo: Matthew MirabelliDaniel Attard and Thomas Bajada are carried by PL delegates. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Metsola will get a record number of votes

9.09pm Treat vote totals being bandied about with caution, as they are not final. But with 95% of the votes counted, we know that Roberta Metsola has obtained 86,920 first-count votes.

That is almost 20,000 votes more than Simon Busuttil obtained in 2009, the current record.

Alex Agius Saliba obtained 63,442 first count votes. Again, that is with around 95% of the votes being counted.  

Centre-right EPP projected to dominate

8.57pm Centrist groups have retained a majority in the EU parliament despite high-profile gains by far-right parties in France, Germany and elsewhere, it appears. 

Projections released by the European Parliament have the centre-right European People's Party (EPP) first with 181 out of 720 seats, followed by its two main partners -- the centre-left Socialists and Democrats on 135 and the centrist Renew Europe on 82.

They were tailed by two far-right groupings, the European Conservatives and Reformists with 71 seats, and the smaller Identity and Democracy on 62.

European Parliament projections as of 8.20pm.European Parliament projections as of 8.20pm.

A two-hour break... right at the finish line

8.45pm We were just about there. Everything was set. Official results seemed to be just minutes away. 

Then the Electoral Commission called a two-hour break. 

We're told that this is part of the verification time period required by law.

Bad news for Arnold Cassola

8.38pm News that the PN will regain its third MEP seat means independent candidate Arnold Cassola's bid for Brussels is no more. 

Back in 2004, Cassola's first MEP bid came undone after he failed to inherit enough votes to get elected.  Fast forward 20 years, and it's the same story. A fantastic individual effort - he outshone candidates with entire parties behind them - but not enough to get himself elected.

PN secures third MEP seat 

8.22pm The PN has secured its third MEP seat. As news of that filters through the counting hall, PN delegates get a second wind of energy. 

PN lost the election, but news of a third MEP seat prompted jubilation among delegates. Video: Matthew Mirabelli

Counting in the final stretch 

7.55pm Counting at the final table – table 12 – has now been completed.

But there’s a bit more before we can get over the line: votes cast in early voting sessions still need to be sorted. Around 22,000 votes were cast early this time round, according to estimates provided by the Electoral Commission. 

We're currently at 93% complete. 

Once all votes have been sorted and counted, the electronic counting machines will do their magic and we should, in theory, have the final outcome of all the election’s counts within minutes. 

Daniel Attard at the counting hall 

7.49pm We've spotted another couple of candidates at the counting hall: Daniel Attard (PL) and Marija Sara Vella Gafa (PL).

Attard, a lawyer who previously served as mayor of Mtarfa and deputy high commissioner at Malta's High Commission in London, is currently Labour's second-best performing candidate. If he inherits enough of Agius Saliba's vote, he's in. 

"I'm humbled by the trust shown in me, irrespective of whether or not I'm elected," Attard told us. 

Daniel Attard at the counting hall. Video: Matthew Mirabelli

PL candidates Marija Sara Vella Gafa and Daniel Attard. Photo: Matthew MirabelliPL candidates Marija Sara Vella Gafa and Daniel Attard. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Peter Agius at the counting hall

7.45pm Peter Agius (PN) is looking well placed to win an MEP seat. A lot will depend on where Roberta Metsola’s votes end up. It’s Agius’ second attempt at getting into the European Parliament.

The Brussels-based technocrat is now at the Naxxar counting hall, where he was met with smiles, applause and hugs by PN delegates. 

"It's a very clear sign of change," he told us. "People are fed up and want change." 

Peter Agius at the counting hall. Video: Matthew Mirabelli

Peter Agius at the counting hall. Photo: Matthew MirabelliPeter Agius at the counting hall. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Sources: Electoral Commission expects 6,800 gap

7.24pm Further confirmation of that 7,000 estimate - the Electoral Commission believes the gap will end up being of 6,800 votes, sources tell us.

A sample of how votes are falling. Video: Matthew Mirabelli

 Labour expects a 7k gap

7.09pm We're close to 90% there - counting is now under way at one final table. 

Our Labour sources tell us they expect the gap to be of around 7,200 votes. 

Counting at table 12. Photo: Matthew MirabelliCounting at table 12. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

All quiet on the western front 

6.52pm The hustle and bustle at the Naxxar counting hall is no more. Vote tallying is now happening in relative quiet, methodically, one ballot sheet at a time. 

Further east, in Ħamrun, a small group of Labour supporters are enjoying a sunset beverage. Just one bar is still open. The makeshift stalls are all gone. 

The Naxxar counting hall at 6.50pm. Photo: Matthew MirabelliThe Naxxar counting hall at 6.50pm. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

People in Ħamrun. Photo: Daniel EllulPeople in Ħamrun. Photo: Daniel Ellul

80% of votes scanned

6.22pm 80% of votes have been scanned and 79% have been verified. We're roughly nine hours into the process, and here's a photo showing how first count votes are panning out so far. 

First count votes as of 6.20pm.First count votes as of 6.20pm.

Roberta Metsola and Alex Agius Saliba elected

6.15pm It’s a candidate for the ‘foregone conclusion of the day’, but it’s our job to report it nonetheless.

Both Roberta Metsola (PN) and Alex Agius Saliba (PL) are guaranteed to exceed the quota and are therefore the first two candidates elected in the 2024 MEP election.

Congratulations to both of them.

Roberta Metsola: reelected to the European Parliament.Roberta Metsola: reelected to the European Parliament.

Alex Agius Saliba is reelected to the European Parliament.Alex Agius Saliba is reelected to the European Parliament.

What's this talk of a 5,800 vote gap?

6.09pm We're aware of various posts on social media saying the vote gap has narrowed even further to 5,800 votes. We've also received word from a source about that, but we've been told to treat the figure with extreme caution at this stage. 

Labour will not have an absolute majority

6.05pm With 66,000 votes left to be verified, one thing is now clear: Labour will not have an absolute majority (50%+1).

It doesn’t make a difference given that it’s a European Parliament election, but it’s a hugely symbolic shift nonetheless. 

ADPD: PL and PN have no reason to celebrate

5.55pm During a news conference, ADPD chair Sandra Gauci urged the two main parties to heed the messages sent by the electorate. 

The fact that 100,000 people opted not to vote, while thousands of others voted for independent candidates, shows that many people have lost faith in the two main parties. 

“A lot of people fear being associated with a party because they will be labelled, and that means there will be consequences. This compounds the grave situation of nepotism and corruption in our country,” Gauci said.

Labour stunned 

5.46pm Sources from within Labour are telling us the result has sent shockwaves within the party structures. While the PL was expecting the gap with the PN to shrink somewhat, nobody envisaged losing so much support.

One senior member of the party told Times of Malta: "This is the start of what could be a very terrible week. There will be more embarrassing court cases and we are expecting the PN to overturn a number of councils."

Around 3.2% of votes invalidated

5.43pm We’re hearing that the share of invalid votes appears to be steadily hovering at around 3.2%.

In 2019, 3.6% of votes were invalidated, meaning proportionally fewer people ruined their vote this time around than five years ago. 

Alex Agius Saliba: 'We won't make the PN's mistakes' 

5.24pm Labour's star candidate Alex Agius Saliba is at the Naxxar counting hall. He's greeted with applause and makes it a point to thank and hug various party delegates there.

"The most important thing is that Labour has won a majority. Now we need to see where we could have done better," he says.

"We have always been the party of the people and that needs to continue being our recipe. We will be analysing the result and seeing what we need to do to ensure we remain the people’s natural choice.

"We will not make the mistakes the PN made in the past. We won’t be stubborn," he adds. 

Alex Agius Saliba reflects on the result. Video: Mark Laurence Zammit

Marlene Mizzi blames minister's "fraud"

5.05pm More Labour anger bubbling to the surface. 

Marlene Mizzi, herself a former Labour MEP, implies an unnamed minister [Roderick Galdes?] has a lot to answer for.

"One particular minister tried to fool people to win 100 votes. Nobody honest likes a fraud. He tried to win 100 votes fraudulently, and instead he cost the party 1000 votes from honest voters,” Mizzi wrote on Facebook. “Truly well done.”

Mizzi did not name the minister she was referring to, but she appears to be alluding to an ID card scandal involving 100 residents of a social housing block in Siġġiewi. The residents’ ID cards were switched to Siggiewi when the housing units were uninhabitable (allowing them to vote there), only for the ruse to be exposed by the PN.

Galdes is Labour's social housing minister.

Marlene Mizzi makes her views clear.Marlene Mizzi makes her views clear.

Chris Cardona weighs in 

4.55pm It’s Chris Cardona’s turn to offer his two cents’ worth. The former Labour minister draws two conclusions (and one obvious statement of fact):

  1. The Labour Party won because it got a few thousand more votes than the PN.    
  2. The PN shouldn’t be too jubilant because all the votes Labour lost went to independents [we don’t know where he’s getting this from].
  3. He was heartbroken to hear Labourites tell him, sadly and angrily, that they would not be voting for the party.

“Do you see what you’ve done now? Roll up your sleeves, listen to people and pay attention to them,” Cardona writes. 

PN wins Gozo 

4.45pm PN sources tell us the party will win the 13th district by anything between 800 and 1,000 votes.

To put the swing into context, in the 2022 general election Labour won that district by a 2,500 vote margin. 

Manuel Micallef blames unnamed ministers

4.38pm As Labour Party insiders try to make sense of today's result, some internal discord is seeping into public view.

Manuel Micallef says party supporters should be thanking Robert Abela. 

"Tomorrow we need a POST MORTEM about some ministers' work and attitude," he writes. 

Party's over at Mile End 

4.30pm Well, that was quick. 

Labour supporters in Ħamrun have thinned out considerably. Droves started heading home the moment Abela stopped speaking and now, roughly 30 minutes later, there are remarkably few red t-shirts in the area. 

The road outside Mile End HQ is empty. Photo: Daniel EllulThe road outside Mile End HQ is empty. Photo: Daniel Ellul

Crowds thinning out in Ħamrun. Photo: Daniel EllulCrowds thinning out in Ħamrun. Photo: Daniel Ellul

Halfway there

4.25pm We're told the vote counting process is at roughly the halfway mark. From when we last updated you, Steve Ellul (PL) has made some inroads, it seems. 

First count votes as of 4.20pm.First count votes as of 4.20pm.

Labour president's rallying call falls flat

4.20pm Labour Party president Ramona Attard shared a post urging supporters to show up at the party's Mile End celebrations. It got a few dozen reactions and four angry comments.

Abela tells Labour supporters: I am not celebrating a victory

3.58pm Robert Abela has addressed Labour supporters gathered outside party headquarters.

“Others are celebrating a loss," he said, alluding to the PN.

"I am not here to celebrate a victory, but to tell you I shall be responding to your message with humility."

Abela said people clearly want a better version of Labour.

"As from tomorrow, I will be rolling up my sleeves to deliver on this".

Robert Abela, accompanies by his wife and daughter, waves to the crowd. Photo: Matthew MirabelliRobert Abela, accompanies by his wife and daughter, waves to the crowd. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Labour supporters fill Mile End 

3.46pm The Labour Party's official victory party is under way in Ħamrun. Here are some snapshots of the atmosphere. It's festive, but there are a fair few glum-looking faces, too.

Labour supporters in Ħamrun on Sunday afternoon. Swipe right to see more photos. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Labour supporters in Ħamrun on Sunday afternoon. Swipe right to see more photos. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

PN's former comms head: 'New hope for the country'

3.31pm Here’s another read of today’s outcome, by Alessandro Farrugia, who previously served as the PN’s Communications Director. 

“Today Labour is celebrating an illusion, because in the bigger scheme of things it is split into a thousand pieces and will continue to splinter,” he writes.

“The PN is celebrating a loss, but in reality it’s a win because everything that previously seemed impossible now seems possible. 

“The people have breathed new hope into the country and showed that they are unhappy with the status quo. Whatever they say, this is not a solid win for the PL when seen in the context of the past decade of Maltese politics.”

Arnold Cassola: 'I have no data, unlike PLPN'

3.20pm Independent candidate Arnold Cassola is currently in third place.

He says he knew he would do well and is very pleased with how things are going so far, but tempers expectations: “we’re just 25% in,” he says. “We need to wait.”

He also notes that he is at a total disadvantage to the two big parties.

“I don’t have access, like the PN and PL do, to updates about the vote count every five minutes,” he says. “I have no idea if I’m currently third by 5,000, 10,000 or whatever.” 

Cassola wrote to the Electoral Commission this morning to complain about its favouritism of the two main parties. So did ADPD. Clearly, they were totally ignored. 

Arnold Cassola says it's still early days.

PN now predicts 10,100 vote gap

3.10pm The predicted gap keeps shrinking: a PN source now tells us they expect it to be of just 10,100 votes! 

It's going to be a long day 

3.05pm The official result is not expected before 11 or 12pm, minister Michael Falzon said at the counting hall.

He admitted that the gap between the two parties may not be as large as in the past. 

“It is clear Labour has a majority. Perhaps we have gotten used to larger numbers, but the race is ultimately all about who places first,” Falzon said. 

Labour has yet to release any projections of the gap between the two main parties.

While it might be several hours until we have an official result, we should have a clearer indication of who Malta’s MEPs will be by around 7pm, we’re told.

 Metsola: 'People opened their doors to us, and we listened'

2.50pm After a lengthy victory lap around the counting hall, Roberta Metsola gives her first comments to the press. 

She thanks workers “from all parties”, and PN leader Bernard Grech for having led a team “that delivered a message of hope”. 

“People opened their doors to us, they listened to us. And we listened to them,” she says. 

Metsola declined to speculate on where her number 1 votes would end up on the second count. 

The PN candidate and current European Parliament president is miles ahead of the competition – party sources reckon she might end up being the most popular candidate in Maltese MEP election history.

Roberta Metsola speaking at the counting hall. Video: Matthew Mirabelli

 Vote count update 

2.40pm 88,722 out of 269,551 first-count votes have been tallied so far. This means 296 boxes out of the 919 boxes have been opened.

So far, the leading candidates are (in order): Roberta Metsola (PN), Alex Agius Saliba (PL), Arnold Cassola (Independent), Daniel Attard (PL), Thomas Bajada (PL) and Peter Agius (PN). 

But this is based solely on roughly one-third of number 1s and a lot can change based on how votes are inherited. Metsola and Agius Saliba are the only lock-ins at this stage. 

How votes are falling as of 2.40pm.How votes are falling as of 2.40pm.

Where did polls get it wrong? 

2.10pm All polls, including our own, suggested Labour was on track to win by a much bigger majority than it has done. What went wrong? 

Pollster Vincent Marmara says undecided voters appear to have upended predictions, and he has pledged to provide a fuller analysis of the result later today. 

Fellow pollster Morgan Parnis, whose company Esprimi ran our Times of Malta poll, thinks similarly. 

“The primary issue appears to be the undecided voters,” he tells us. “For the question 'if a general election was held tomorrow', we had predicted a 6.9% gap which is closer to the actual result.” 

Parnis says his team will be looking at sample sizes and the frequency of surveys but notes that other polls carried out more frequently and with larger samples were also significantly off. 

“Understanding these discrepancies will be crucial for improving our methodologies in future polling efforts,” he tells us. 

Andre Callus: Why is all talk about gap?

1.52pm Moviment Graffitti activist Andre Callus is keen to emphasise that the election outcome could see both PL and PN lose votes, to third parties and independents. 

If that were the case, he says, it would be disastrous for Labour, as it means they are clinging onto power purely because of the PN is so weak. And it would also mean the PN should not be too quick to celebrate today's outcome.

“I can’t understand why we’re only talking about the gap between parties,” he writes. 

Note to Callus [and readers]: we’re only talking about the gap because that’s the only data we have at this stage. We do not yet know how independents or third-party candidates did.  

And we do not know, as one reader as correctly pointed out, because the Electoral Commission only gives running updates about the vote counting to the two major parties. 

Third parties and independent candidates are frozen out of that process, as we noted earlier this morning (see our entries at 7.10am and 10.15am).

How would a 15,000 gap compare? 

1.42pm If Labour wins by the projected 15,000 votes [it could be less, too] it would be the narrowest victory since Malta joined the EU and began contesting elections.

Here are the stats showing Labour's lead in European Parliament elections since 2004:

Everyone's a winner 

1.33pm The victory remains a thumping one for Labour – “let’s not forget that the PN’s biggest-ever [electoral] victory was 13,000 [votes]," Labour junior minister Andy Ellul emphasised when we caught up with him outside party headquarters. 

Yet given the way in which Labour's superlead has been slashed, it leaves us in the curious situation in which both sides have effectively declared themselves the winners.  

And that sentiment is reflected in events at the counting hall: PN delegates are chanting and banging on the perspex as Bernard Grech enters. They've lost, and yet the mood is jubilant. 

PN delegates celebrate like it's a victory. Video: Matthew Mirabelli

Bernard Grech thinks PN will get a third seat

1.24pm In a quick comment to journalists outside the PN’s headquarters, Grech said that while he’s still treating the matter with caution, all signs indicate that the party is on its way to regaining its third MEP seat.

“I’m going to remain cautious and keep my feet on the ground but I strongly believe in working together and in unity and that’s how the party has been working towards this goal and slowly it’s starting to bear fruit,” he said. “But what is important isn’t other people’s PR but real politics for the people.”

Asked if he would be calling for a vote of confidence should the party fail to clinch that third seat, Grech said he will only make decisions based on facts and that at the moment, things are looking positive for the party.

Bernard Grech speaking outside PN HQ. Video: Jessica Arena

Gap keeps narrowing

1.15pm Sources within the PN camp believe the gap between parties is of roughly 13,500 votes. And Labour sources acknowledge it's below 15,000 votes. One source within PL reckons it's closer to the PN's estimate. 

Pollster Vincent Marmara told our journalist Daniel Ellul that the gap appears to be "in the teens". He said he will be releasing a detailed analysis shortly.

Casa: 'A slap in the face for Labour' 

1pm David Casa describes the result as a slap in the face for the Labour Party. The electorate has told the government to "stop pigging out at our expense," he says. 

Casa, who is Malta's longest-serving MEP, is gunning to be reelected for a fifth time. 

Labour celebrations to kick off at 3pm

12.47pm The Labour Party has summoned its supporters to Ħamrun. The party will begin at 3pm, it told supporters on social media. 

Bernard Grech hails party's 'best ever' MEP showing

12.43pm Speaking on NET, Bernard Grech hailed the Nationalist Party’s “best ever” showing in the European Parliament elections and said people had sent a clear message about the way the country is being run.

He accused the government of spending “millions” in an attempt to influence the election result.

“People are realising that the government only takes notice of them when an election is around the corner. It is not PR that improves people’s lives, but a genuine love for our country and its people,” Grech said. 

We expect Grech to visit the counting hall at around 1.30pm. Read our full report of his TV statement.

Robert Abela at the counting hall 

12.30pm We've spotted Robert Abela at the counting hall. He finds himself in an odd situation: victorious, yes, but seriously humbled by the electorate. 

One Labour source tells us: "it's a bloodbath". 

Abela tells reporters said that the result “acknowledges the government’s hard work” in the face of many global and national challenges but also sends a stark message. 

“I will be responding to this message with more humility, more work and an even greater finger on the pulse,” he said.

“The result gives us a renewed energy to work and we will work harder than ever, starting from tomorrow morning.”

Watch Robert Abela solemnly declare victory

12.25pm The declaration of victory was made by Robert Abela over the phone. The Prime Minister has now shared that clip. Watch/listen to it in the video below. 

Jason Azzopardi's stock footage of the apocalypse

12.20pm  Former PN minister Jason Azzopardi asks if the electoral result is the "VGH effect", referring to the Vitals scandal. And this is before details of the Electrogas inquiry are out, he adds. 

Azzopardi, as is his wont, illustrates his post with a photo of a storm and a tornado. 

PL President: 'We're in a midterm election'

12.13pm Labour President Ramona Attard puts a brave face on the election outcome.

“We’re in a midterm election and there were some extraordinary events during the campaign,” she tells TVM, referring to the criminal charges filed against Joseph Muscat, Chris Fearne and others. 

She says she's "very proud" of the result. 

Both she and PL deputy leader Daniel Micallef decline to provide an official estimate on the size of the gap between parties. 

PL deputy leader Daniel Micallef speaking. Video:Matthew Xuereb

Labour sources confirm: It's under 20k

12.05pm Labour sources have confirmed that the gap will be of less than 20,000 votes. They think it will land at around 18,000. 

PN projecting 15k gap and regaining third seat

12.03pm PN secretary general Michael Piccinino has said the party expects the gap to be of around 15,000 votes. It will also regain its third seat, he said from the Naxxar counting hall.

If PN's predictions are right, it will be Labour’s narrowest EP victory since 2004, when it won by just under 9% of the vote, or some 21,000 votes.

Michael Piccinino predicts a 15,000 vote gap. Video: Matthew Mirabelli/Karl Andrew Micallef

How many votes have been counted?

12pm It's still early days yet on the vote-counting front. 34,166 votes have been counted, out of 269,551, according to Labour’s latest figures. 

NET says gap is 'under 20k'

11.55am PN media NET News says the gap between parties is "under 20,000". 

Labour minister and electoral doyen Michael Falzon declined to provide a number when asked on TVM. It's still "premature" to do so, he said. 

Reminder: the party won by around 40,000 votes in both 2019 and 2022. A gap of under 20,000 would mean it has effectively lost half its lead.  

Labour declares 'solid' victory 

11.34am Robert Abela says the party has won a "solid" victory. Cue cheers and banging on the perspex in the Naxxar counting hall. 

Abela says voters have also sent the party an "important message" that the party will need to heed "starting from tomorrow."

It was meant to be a foregone conclusion, but it’s taken more than two hours. The question remains, however: by how many votes has it won? 

Abela's brief message on TVM suggests a much lower margin than the party was hoping for. It matters little to counting hall delegates at this stage, who break out into chants of "Robert tagħna l-mexxej" and "Viva l-Labour". 

Labour declares victory. Video: Matthew Mirabelli

Celebrations. Video: Matthew Mirabelli

Celebrations in the counting hall. Video: Jonathan Borg

Swarming in counting hall

11.45am Labour delegates have swarmed around Byron Camilleri, Jonathan Attard and Clifton Grima. Cameras are rolling, elbows are out and it's getting sweaty.  

Abela to speak on TVM

11.32am We're hearing that Prime Minister and Labour leader Robert Abela will soon speak on TVM. Expect an announcement. 

Photo: Matthew MirabelliPhoto: Matthew Mirabelli

Over at Labour HQ

11.26am We’ve spotted several party insiders entering the party’s Mile End HQ. They include lawyer Elaine de Giorgio, ministers' advisors and cabinet secretary Ryan Spagnol.

It looks like Robert Abela’s security detail is also in the building, suggesting Abela is in there too. 

Cars that form part of the PM's security team outside Mile End. Photo: Daniel EllulCars that form part of the PM's security team outside Mile End. Photo: Daniel Ellul

And bang on cue...

11.14am Right after we wrote that Labour delegates are being remarkably silent, chief cheerleader (and government official) Jason Micallef says the party will win it. But it's a somewhat generic declaration of victory.

"Labour Party confirmed as Malta's biggest party," Micallef posted to Facebook.

A big difference from 2019

11.10am Back in 2019, Labour delegates were openly celebrating around 20 minutes into the vote-counting process. A short while later, memes of a red wave started circulating on social media. 

We’re now 1.5 hours into the process and Labour delegates are keeping their thoughts to themselves. 

Metsola could smash EP election records

11am Sources from both parties tell us PN star candidate Roberta Metsola could end up with double the quota.

If that pans out, she will end up being the best-performing candidate in Maltese EP election history. The current record for first-count votes is held by Simon Busuttil in 2009 (68,782), followed by Miriam Dalli in 2019 (63,438). 

Spoiled ballots and Cassola's chances

10.54am Some more anecdotal indications from the counting hall. We're seeing quite a few spoiled ballots and a sizeable number of votes going to independent candidates (13 out of 39 candidates were independents).

Arnold Cassola.Arnold Cassola.

Party officials tallying votes have told one of our reporters that Arnold Cassola is getting quite a few 1s, but not as many as they thought he would. That would mean his chances will heavily depend on how many 2s he inherits, primarily from Roberta Metsola. 

Metsola and Agius Saliba are steaming ahead of the competition "pedal to the metal", as one electoral agent put it. 

Again, this is all anecdotal at this stage. 

An interminable wait 

10.33am Two volunteers just walked out of PN HQ, got into their car and drove away.

“It’s pointless waiting here, we’re a long way from a result,” one said as they turned the car key in the ignition. 

Meanwhile, police officers are looking sharp: a sergeant showed up and immediately told a subordinate off for having his top button undone. 

Police officers outside PN HQ. Video: Jessica Arena

EU-wide: Centre-right projected to win 

10.21am We're starting to see the first EU-wide projections trickle in. Europe Elects says that as of 9.30am, it is projecting gains for the centre-right and far-right and drops for the centre-left, greens and liberals. Remember, though, that 21 of the EU's 27 member states are voting today. 

ADPD echo Cassola's Electoral Commission complaints

10.15am Earlier, we reported that independent candidate Arnold Cassola has written to the Electoral Commissioner to complain about being left out of its rolling vote updates (see our 7.10am entry). 

ADPD has a similar qualm - its deputy chairperson Carmel Cacapardo says he also asked for access but was bluntly told 'no' last night. "

"Our electoral system is unfortunately designed to only serve PLPN," he writes. And who can blame him? It's very visibly true. 


Meanwhile, outside PL and PN HQs

10.07am At Labour HQ, vendors and bars are slowly setting up for a street party, should Labour emerge victorious as projected.

It's all quiet just down the road at PN's Dar Ċentrali - our reporter Jessica Arena tells us the only sound there is of birds chirping, and of the Labour side getting set up for a party up the road. There's a restless security guard who keeps walking in and out to check his phone, but other security officers stationed in the building’s landing hall seem content to wait and chat idly indoors

Setting up a streetside bar in Ħamrun. Scroll right to see more photos. Photo: Daniel Ellul

Setting up a streetside bar in Ħamrun. Scroll right to see more photos. Photo: Daniel Ellul

Mobile toilets, ready for the crowds. Photo: Daniel Ellul

Mobile toilets, ready for the crowds. Photo: Daniel Ellul

Beer o'clock. Photo: Daniel Ellul

Beer o'clock. Photo: Daniel Ellul

Steel barriers being set up outside Labour HQ. Photo: Daniel Ellul

Steel barriers being set up outside Labour HQ. Photo: Daniel Ellul

All quiet outside PN HQ. Photo: Jessica Arena

All quiet outside PN HQ. Photo: Jessica Arena

Postcards from the counting hall

9.58am They say a picture is worth a thousand words. So here are four of them. Swipe right to scroll between them. 

Photo: Jonathan Borg

Photo: Jonathan Borg

Calculators at the ready. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Calculators at the ready. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Holding up a ballot sheet. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Holding up a ballot sheet. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

A busy counting hall. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

A busy counting hall. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

A spoiled vote by a disgrunted voter Photo: Jonathan Borg

A spoiled vote by a disgrunted voter Photo: Jonathan Borg

Anecdotal first indications 

9.55am It’s still very early in the process, and the following is entirely anecdotal.

Our people in the counting hall tell us that it’s clear Alex Agius Saliba (PL) and Roberta Metsola (PN) are dominating voting, as expected. Metsola seems to be doing especially well in the 13th district (Gozo). 

We’re also seeing the odd number 1 for far-right candidate Norman Lowell. A 1 for Lowell is often followed by a 2 for Terrence Portelli, the other Imperium Europa candidate.

And then there are the odd votes that went to various independent candidates. Again, this is entirely anecdotal and not a scientific measure. 

A potentially spoiled vote being stamped. Photo: Jonathan BorgA potentially spoiled vote being stamped. Photo: Jonathan Borg

This is what vote sorting looks like

9.43am One by one, votes are held up and then placed in their respective piles. 

The vote sorting process in action. Video: Matthew Mirabelli

Votes held up. Video: Matthew Mirabelli

A vote counter takes note. Photo: Matthew MirabelliA vote counter takes note. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Vote sorting begins

9.35am The counting hall is full and electoral agents are at their tables.

The vote sorting process begins. See our 8.20am entry for details about what that means. 

The vote sorting process gets under way. Photo: Matthew XuerebThe vote sorting process gets under way. Photo: Matthew Xuereb


Candidates and MPs at the counting hall

9.30am Among the party delegates and vote counters are various MPs and candidates. Here's a little slideshow of some of them we spotted. Swipe right to scroll through the images. 

PN MEP candidate David Agius together with his wife Deborah. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

PN MEP candidate David Agius together with his wife Deborah. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Labour Minister Clayton Bartolo at the counting hall. Photo: Jonathan Borg

Labour Minister Clayton Bartolo at the counting hall. Photo: Jonathan Borg

Former PN leader and current MP Adrian Delia (left) enters the counting hall. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Former PN leader and current MP Adrian Delia (left) enters the counting hall. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Labour minister Jonathan Attard and junior minister Andy Ellul. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Labour minister Jonathan Attard and junior minister Andy Ellul. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Labour MEP candidate Steve Ellul (centre) chats at the counting hall. Photo: Jonathan Borg

Labour MEP candidate Steve Ellul (centre) chats at the counting hall. Photo: Jonathan Borg

Labour minister Chris Bonett (right) is all smiles. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Labour minister Chris Bonett (right) is all smiles. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

What about the rest of Europe? 

9.22am All eyes here are on Naxxar and the people who will become Malta’s next six MEPs. But Malta is a tiny drop in the ocean that is the 720-seat European Parliament, and each of the EU’s 27 member states is holding MEP elections. 

Dutch voters went to the polls on Thursday while others, like Italy and Slovakia, held their vote on Saturday like Malta. The vast majority of EU member states, though – 21 of them, to be precise – are voting today. They include heavyweights France, Germany and Poland. 

Oh dear

9.06am Here's another reason to keep the two elections separate.

According to ONE, the scanning process may be slightly delayed, as votes have been placed in the wrong ballot boxes.

People cast their MEP vote in local council ballot boxes and vice versa.

Ballot boxes for local council elections will only be opened on Wednesday, so any MEP votes placed there are effectively lost.

A two-for-one election

9.03am Political analyst George Vital Zammit, speaking on TVM, raises an interesting question – should MEP and local council elections be bundled together? Vital Zammit doesn’t think so.

Although having two elections together makes things simpler in terms of their administration, he says it risks sidelining issues that should matter and makes the election a mid-term referendum on the government’s performance.

Parties expect a win for Labour, but with a marked drop

8.55am We've had a chat with some operatives within both PL and PN camps, and they both seem to be saying similar things at this [very early] stage. They expect another big Labour victory, but with a significant drop in support. 

Labour won by around 42,600 votes in the 2019 MEP elections and by 39,400 votes in the 2022 general election. Both of those were post-independence electoral records, so it would not be surprising for the PL to fall short this time round.

The question is, how far short? Will it be close to the 30,000 gap projected by various polls, or closer to 20,000? We will only know once the counting process starts. 

Good luck to our counting hall team

8.33am Things will get hectic at the Naxxar counting hall later in the morning, but it's relatively calm for now. Which means our four-man reporting team can regroup for a team photo. Good luck to all of them. 

Matthew Mirabelli, Mark Laurence Zammit, Matthew Xuereb and Jonathan Borg.Matthew Mirabelli, Mark Laurence Zammit, Matthew Xuereb and Jonathan Borg.

What's happening at the counting hall? 

8.20am Ballot boxes have been emptied and votes flipped upside-down. It’s a key step in the vote counting process. Now the counters will painstakingly turn votes face-side up, one by one, hold each one up for party counters to view, and then place them down to be electronically scanned. 

Zaren tal-Ajkla at the counting hall.Zaren tal-Ajkla at the counting hall.

Those party counters will be frantically sampling those votes as they are held up, to relay to internal party pollsters.

Meanwhile, party officials are trickling in, and so are some candidates. Here's one of them - Nazzareno Bonnici, better known as Zaren tal-Ajkla. 

Franco Debono's take on turnout 

8.10am Franco Debono, a former MP and keen politico, has made a couple of interesting observations about the big drops in turnout registered in the 6th and 8th districts.

Rosianne Cutajar – the MP that Robert Abela exiled last year – is a former Qormi mayor and very popular in the 6th district, he notes. Perhaps voters there were disillusioned with the way the party has treated her. 

And the 8th district, which was previously represented by ministers like Chris Cardona, Edward Scicluna and Edward Zammit Lewis, is now orphaned in Abela’s cabinet – not a single sitting minister hails from the district. 

The relatively low turnout in the 10th district does not bode well for Cassola or the PN's electoral chances, Debono adds.

Knock knock knocking on Labour doors

8am Labour sources tell us party delegates were knocking doors right to the very last minute yesterday, as they scrambled to get out the vote in traditional party strongholds where turnout was sluggish throughout the day. 

Judging by approximate turnout figures, they were somewhat successful – turnout was down in some party strongholds, but not as dramatically as initial indications suggested.

We got turnout right

7.31am The approximate turnout figure of 72.8% is very, very close to what we predicted in our latest poll, carried out by Esprimi and published a week ago. We had forecast a 72.4% turnout. 

That poll also predicted a 10.4 percentage point split between the two major parties, in Labour’s favour. Will that also prove to be accurate? Time will tell. 

Cassola's got a point

7.10am Arnold Cassola has written to the Electoral Commissioner to demand access to rolling vote counts.

The Commission provides officials from the Labour and Nationalist parties with regular five-minute updates during the vote-counting process. That helps the two parties calculate how the vote is panning out, and allows them to project outcomes.

But, in yet another example of our political duopoly at work, the Commission only provides that service to the PL and PN. So if you’re a third party or independent candidate, like Cassola, tough luck. You’ll have to sit with the plebs and rely on updates like these ones.

That’s not right, Cassola had told the commissioner.

“The Commission can’t hide behind archaic and discriminatory rules to give a clear advantage to my political rivals,” he wrote. “If the Commission fails to grant me access, it will be complicit in undermining a fair and equal electoral process, at a point when a historic new page in our history could be written.”

The “historic new page” would be Cassola becoming Malta's first-ever independent MEP – something that polls suggest might be on the cards.

Arnold Cassola. Photo: Chris Sant FournierArnold Cassola. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier


Five things to think about 

6.59am Here’s one to accompany your Sunday morning coffee: Five things to look out for when vote counting gets underway.

So, about that turnout 

6.40am Polls closed at 10pm last night and the sorting process will officially begin at 9am.

While we will know who has emerged as the largest party early, the process for distributing the votes is likely to go on throughout the day. But we will be with you until all the seats are filled.

In the meantime, let's cast our eyes on the first elephant in the proverbial electoral zoo - voter turnout. 

Turnout is always lower in European Parliament elections than in general ones, and it was no different this time round.

But any talk of turnout dropping when compared to the previous MEP election (held in 2019) appears to have been premature.

The Electoral Commission released its approximate turnout calculations at around 3am on Sunday morning, and they suggest turnout remained pretty much unchanged at around 73%.

Turnout was strongest in Gozo, where it neared 74%, and weakest in the 10th district, where just 56.33% voted. 

Local council elections saw significantly smaller shares of voters cast their vote, at roughly 59.5%. Unsurprisingly, the towns with the biggest non-Maltese populations (St Julian's, Sliema, St Paul's Bay) saw the weakest turnout figures there.   


6.15am Good morning and welcome to our coverage of what promises to be an interesting day in Maltese politics. People have had their say on who they want to represent them in the European Parliament, with six MEP seats up for grabs.

If you come across something election-related and want to share it with the world, feel free to drop us a line at

Times of Malta will provide comprehensive coverage of the count with up-to-the-minute news, analysis and detailed results. 

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