Nationalist Party (PN). The Nationalist Party is Malta’s centre-right party, with Christian democratic and Conservative attitudes.
The PN was officially founded in 1926, but can trace its history back to 1880. The party finds its origins in Nationalist groups who opposed British colonial taxes and the Anglicisation of the education and judicial systems. The party’s origins were in the country’s Italian elite and the PN was a pro-Italian and heavily Catholic party. The PN flirted with fascism in the inter-war years, resulting in the British suspending self-rule in 1933. It was exceptionally damaged by these connections during the War, but post-war re-established itself as a mainstream, conservative and separatist party.
The PN led Malta to independence in 1964, with a referendum on independence that year.
A gerrymandered electoral system prevented the party from winning the 1981 election, despite winning more than 50% of the votes. It won the 1987 general election, however, after which it pursued a policy of liberalisation of the economy and EU membership. From 1987 until 2013, when the Labour Party won its current term in office the PN enjoyed power for all but a 22 month period between 1996 and 1998.
The party is slightly more economically liberal and more socially conservative than Labour. However it has moderated its social conservatism in recent years. The, eventually successful, referendum on divorce originated from a private members bill by a PN backbencher (though PM Gonzi opposed it, whilst Labour broadly supported it). The party also abstained on the recent bill on gay adoption and civil unions. The party’s leader, Simon Busuttil, claims that he personally supports civil unions, but has ‘reservations’ about adoption. He has also claimed that no one has a ‘right to children’.
The party is a member of the European People’s Party, with whom it votes 96.0% of the time, around average for the group.