( dpa ) - The Nationalist Party (PN) is expected to win a third consecutive term in government in Malta after one of the closest elections battles ever, according to unofficial reports Sunday.
The PN is expected to beat the opposition Labour Party by a mere 1,500 votes. Thousands of PN supporters took to the streets Sunday night to celebrate.
The result was so close that nine hours from the start of counting, no party had claimed victory.
It is not known if the Labour Party will ask for a recount.
It was a roller coaster of emotions for the 400,000 inhabitants of the Mediterranean island, with Labour Party officials indicating early Sunday that the party had won an absolute majority, causing premature celebrations that soon fizzled out as news started coming in that the PN had made inroads.
The PN victory is largely attributed to leader Lawrence Gonzi, who has overhauled the economy introduced the euro and promised to revamp his own party if re-elected.
The two smaller parties, the Green Party and Alterniva Demokratika, and the right-wing Azzjoni Nazzjonali failed to make any impact.
A total of 93 per cent of the electorate cast their vote in Malta's first election since EU membership - a low turnout by Maltese standards.