March 11, 2007 / 8:37 AM / in 12 years

Malta ruling party loses local elections

VALLETTA (Reuters) - Malta’s ruling Nationalist Party lost local elections in a third of Malta’s localities, with the opposition Labor Party winning 53.2 percent of the votes, official results showed on Sunday.

The elections, held on Saturday, could be the last test before general elections due to be held in Malta by the middle of next year. The Nationalist Party won 44 percent of the vote with the rest going to independent candidates.

The Nationalists have lost all four local elections held since the party formed a government on a platform to take Malta into the EU in 2003. Malta joined the European Union a year later.

Nationalist Party officials said turnout at the local election was only 68 percent, which they said was an indication that many traditionally Nationalist voters had stayed away.

Turnout at general elections in Malta is usually around 95 percent.

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