the right-wing national party took over the government in
May 1987. Liberal Prime Minister Edward Fenech-Adami
initiated a policy of rapprochement with the United States.
Imports were released, free-trade zones were set up and
tourism and foreign investment developed.
Adami was re-elected in February 1992 when the National
Party got 51.77% of the vote and the Labor Party 46.50%.
Adami stated that his main objective was the accession of
Malta to the EU.
In 1993, the EU declared that democratic stability and
the human rights situation in Malta made it possible for the
country to join the EU. Yet the country's economic
structures were characterized as "obsolete" and it was
advised to carry out "basic economic reforms". On 1 January
1995, a VAT scheme was introduced, despite sharp criticism
from the trade union movement and trade.
In June 95, the EU provided financial assistance to Malta
in support of the country's economic reform, and it was
announced that by the end of 1996 negotiations would be
started on the accession of the country to the Union.
In the October 1996 elections, the Labor Party won 50.7%
of the vote, while the National Party had to settle for
47.8%. Alfred Sant was subsequently appointed prime
After the election, the new government withdrew Malta
from NATO. Sant declared that his country would use its
constitutional neutrality to promote stability and security
in the Mediterranean. At the same time, he froze the plans
for accession to the EU and declared that he wanted a
gradual rapprochement through cooperation agreements and
The state budget deficit for 1997 and rising unemployment
forced the government to implement an economic emergency
program for 1998. In March 98, a distrust vote against the
Sant's government led to its decline. True argued that the
adoption of a development program funded by North American
capital should be seen as a vote of confidence, but the
opposition Nationalist Party, along with some Social
Democrats, gathered 35 votes against Sant's 34.
After the government crisis, new elections were held to
be held in September. It was won by the Nationalist Party
with 52% of the vote. New Prime Minister Eddie Fenech
Adami's first step as head of government was to apply for
membership in the EU. An application by the Labor Party as
early as 1996 had been withdrawn.
At the December 1999 government meeting, the EU formally
re-included Malta in the list of applicant countries.
Malta became the first country in the new millennium to
abolish the death penalty for all crimes when it adopted a
supplement to the Armed Forces Law on March 21, 2000. The
death penalty is replaced in all cases with life