September 2018 photo shows a historical part of La Valetta, Malta
The European elections will see millions of EU citizens living outside of their native country voting from abroad. However, casting their vote will be easier for some than others.
Malta is among four EU member states which does not permit its citizens to vote from abroad. That means citizens living and working in another EU member state have to fly home if they wish to vote in the MEP elections on 25 May.
In the past, subsidised flights have been arranged by AirMalta with national ministries to enable voters to return for this purpose. But, in 2019 no subsidised direct flight has been arranged for the 272 Maltese nationals living in Luxembourg.
“There are Ryanair and Luxair flights from Luxembourg to Malta, but the AirMalta flight is considered as ‘handy’ since it would coincide neatly with the dates of the elections, including just the right time to pick up the documentation needed for voting before the closure of the electoral office,” a Maltese national who did not wish to be named told Delano. He added that flying with other airlines would in some cases require taking additional annual leave, missed school-days for children, as well as incurring higher fares.
An AirMalta spokesperson told Delano on Tuesday that subsidised €90 return fares were being offered from other locations near to Luxembourg especially for the elections. Among the airports are Berlin, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Munich, Brussels, and in France: Lyon, Charles de Gaulles, Marseille and Orly. The spokesperson said that the fares apply for a period of 13-25 May for outgoing flights and 25 May to 6 June, for returning flights.
Delano contacted the Maltese embassy in Brussels to find out why the subsidised direct flights had not been continued between Luxembourg and Malta. They had not responded at the time of publication.
Voter turnout in European elections in Malta has steadily declined since 2004, reaching 74.8% in 2014. The rate may, however, receive a stronger turnout from a new younger generation of voters--2019 marks the first year in which the voting age has been dropped to 16.
Malta’s voter turnout it is still considerably higher than other countries which don’t permit voting from abroad. For instance in Slovakia (which has 950 citizens in Luxembourg), turnout in 2014 was 13.05% and in Czech Republic (which has 1,130 citizens in Luxembourg) it was 18.2%. Ireland, meanwhile, which has a large proportion of nationals living abroad, including 1,909 in Luxembourg, recorded a 52.44% turnout.