Malta became a Republic on the 13th December 1974. This followed the acquisition of independence from the United Kingdom by virtue of the Independence Constitution on the 21st September 1964, which was enacted through an order under the Maltese Independence Act, which established Malta as a liberal parliamentary democracy. The Republic of Malta later joined the European Union on the 1st May 2004. The Republic of Malta’s parliamentary system and public administration are modelled on the British Westminster system, and utilizes a mixed legal system of English common law and civil law (based on the Roman and Napoleonic civil codes).
The Republic of Malta is based on the Constitution and embraces the foundations of a democratic system with a separation of powers. The main functions of the Constitution are to regulate the organs of the State, to protect the fundamental human rights of the citizens and to safeguard the separation of powers between the pillars of democracy, being the executive, judicial and legislative arms of the State.
The legislative arm consists of a unicameral Parliament, made up of the President of the Republic, as Head of State, and the House of Representatives, members of whom are elected by the people for a term of five years by means of a general election.
The executive arm consists of a Government led by a Prime Minister, who is the primus inter pares among peers who the Prime Minister would appoint on taking up office. Traditionally, the Prime Minister would be the leader of the political party who would have garnered the majority of votes in a general election. As a rule, the Government is elected for a term of five years through general elections.
The judicial arm consists of the Maltese judiciary, which is made up of a number of Judges and Magistrates, called to administer justice and uphold the Laws of Malta. The Maltese Courts are divided into civil and criminal courts, with each section having a Court of inferior jurisdiction, led by a Magistrate, and a Court of superior jurisdiction, led by a Judge. The Law Courts are found in Valletta and on the island of Gozo.