The President of Malta is the island’s head of state.
Presidents serve a five-year term and must swear an oath to ‘preserve, protect and defend’ the Maltese Constitution. They are not directly elected, rather chosen by MPs in Parliament.
The office of the President of Malta came into being on 13 December 1974, when Malta became a republic within the Commonwealth. The Queen ceased to be head of state and the Governor-General Sir Anthony Mamo became the first President.
However, the President’s powers are almost identical to those previously exercised by the Governor-General on behalf of The Queen.
– The President is responsible for appointing the Prime Minister following a general election or resignation of a currently serving Prime Minister.
– After a bill passes successfully through Parliament, the President is responsible for signing them into law.
– The President may grant a pardon to convicted criminals acting on the advice of ministers.
– The President has the right to be consulted, to encourage, to warn and to advise ministers.
– The President is the head of the Maltese honours system.
– The President is the head of the Malta Community Chest Fund, a charitable non-governmental institution aimed at helping philanthropic institutions and individuals.
George Vella, the current office holder, is the 10th President of Malta and a former Labour MP and foreign minister. He is a Companion of Honour of Malta’s National Order of Merit and was awarded an Honorary Knighthood by The Queen in 2018.
Malta has had two female Presidents to date. Agatha Barbara served from 1982 to 1987, while Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca held office from 2014 to 2019.
The President is formally referred to as ‘His’ or ‘Her Excellency’.