Malta is a constitutional republic and parliamentary democracy. The president is the head of state, appointed by a resolution of the unicameral parliament for a term of five years. The parliament appointed George Vella president for a five-year term beginning April 4. The president names as prime minister the leader of the party that wins a majority of seats in parliamentary elections. Early parliamentary elections held in 2017 were considered free and fair. On December 1, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat announced he will resign the Labor Party (PL) party leadership following the election of a new leader on January 12, 2020. He also said that he will resign as prime minister in the days that followed the leadership election to make way for a new premier. The PL intends to complete its five-year mandate, which began in 2017.
The national police maintain internal security. The armed forces are responsible for external security but also have some domestic security responsibilities. Both report to the Ministry of Home Affairs and National Security. Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the national police, the intelligence services, and the armed forces, and the government has effective mechanisms to investigate and punish abuse.
Significant human rights issues included: an alleged unlawful killing by two members of the armed forces and allegations of high-level government corruption.
The government took steps to investigate, prosecute, and punish officials who committed violations, whether in security services or elsewhere in the government.