An Opposition bill based on the recommendations of the inquiry into the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia was defeated in parliament on Thursday after the government's MPs voted against.
37 MPs, all from the government side, voted against the wide-ranging bill, while 27 voted in favour.
The bill was moved by Opposition Leader Bernard Grech. It provided that the president be given extra powers, the setting up a special inquiring magistrate to focus on corruption; provisions for a caretaker government once an election is called; and the establishment of media freedom as the fourth pillar of democracy.
Prime Minister Robert Abela repeated a remark he made on Wednesday that the Opposition's bill was a "political gimmick" aimed at scoring political points.
"This bill is unlike anything we’ve ever seen. We have 11 laws that are distinct but which have been put together and we must vote at one go. People who were in the administration before 2013 are behind this, pulling the strings. Some are here but not all of them.
"What will happen after this vote is that the PN will come out saying we are not in favour of rule of law. The reality is that the Opposition wants to kick up a fuss and rush this through, making us debate and vote in three hours," Abela said.
He listed changes his government brought in since 2020 and said other bills are being drafted in terms of the recommendations of the Caruana Galizia inquiry.
The Opposition's bill, he said, would harm businesses, he said, and it also implied Malta was a mafia state, something it was not. Unlike the Opposition, the government did not think all those who do business were corrupt and it would continue to work with those who are willing to invest in Malta.
'Prime minister is detached from realities'
Opposition leader Bernard Grech said the prime minister's speech showed he was still "detached from the realities of the world".
"Just because his strings are pulled, he thinks everyone is like him. He is a grey prime minister who does not take any decision...not black or white.
"The prime minister told us that the bill is a gimmick. He said that he takes decisions and then because he had just three hours to decide on this bill, he could not decide to vote in favour," Grech said.
He went on to accuse the prime minister of "forgetting about the years before he took office in 2020".
Grech also accused the government of only voting against the bill because it was tabled by the Opposition.
The reality is you are voting against this just because it was the Opposition that came up with it, he said. "We have another confirmation that the PM does not want to move forward and take decisions that help the country move forward."
"We are ready to give our country its name back, the name that you tarnished, he stressed.