The Constitution is the law which defines the powers of the 3 pillars of
the State, the relationship between one another and the relationship with the
individual. Most notably, the constitution establishes the characteristics of
the country, outlining the rights and responsibilities of the citizens. Thus,
establishing it as the supreme law of the country. A country’s constitution
should also establish the citizens basic human rights.

The Maltese Constitution can be described as Written, Rigid and requires
a 3-tier mechanism for its amendment. A written constitution implies that a
formal document exists, defining all the information included in a
constitution. On the contrary, an unwritten Constitution, such as that of the
United Kingdom, is not a single document, but instead is derived from a number
of sources that are partly written and partly unwritten, including accumulated
conventions, works of authority, Acts of Parliament, the common law and EU law.17
Our Constitution is also said to be Rigid. This means that making
amendments is difficult and slow. This is a feature which is in place to
protect the Constitution from changes being made for political gain.18 This
is supported by a three-tier mechanism for amendment.

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The constitution itself is a document which remains enforced throughout
a country’s history. However, as society develops, certain elements in the
constitution may need to be amended. The directions for amending a constitution
are found in the constitution itself. For an amendment to be approved, the
usual procedure is that there must be an over-majority in the House of
Representatives. This means that at least two thirds of the members must
approve of the amendment. This is also referred to as a Supermajority. In some
countries, approval by the state legislature is also required. Amendments are
often also approved through a public referendum. In cases were an amendment is
passed by a public referendum, the law may also require debate and approval of
the national legislature, as well as a period of public discussion before the
referendum is held. This period can be as long as a year, and is used to
educate the public about the area in which they are voting. This will help in
preventing misinformation and reducing political bias, whereby the public votes
simply depending on the party they support.

The Constitution of Malta was created through an Order in Council under
the Malta Independence Act 1964, promulgated by the House of Parliament of the
United Kingdom. The Maltese Constitution was affected on the 21st
September, 1964. The Maltese Constitution contains a number of British
Constitutional Conventions which were reduced to writings. These include the
composition of the 3 pillars of the State, and relationship between them, the
doctrine of the residual prerogatives of the Head of State, as well as the collective ministerial
responsibility. This was very prevalent in must constitutions given by the
former colonies of the United Kingdom, especially between the late 1950s and
the early 1960s.

Our Constitution provides for a Parliamentary Government, in which the
Executive Branch is part of the Legislature, and the Executive branch is
collectively responsible for the Legislature. This implies that Ministers are
constitutionally bound to be Members of Parliament. The Head of the Executive
Branch is called the Prime Minister. This person is chosen by the Head of
State, or the President, from amongst the Members of Parliament. The Prime
Minister is chosen according to whom the President deems capable of commanding
the support of the Majority of the House.

The Head of State is the President of the Republic. This person is
elected by a resolution of the House of Representatives. According to the
Constitution the powers of the Head of State extend further than appointing the
Prime Minister. The Head of State has residual prerogative powers. These are
powers that have been passed down through the years, including the power of the
President to dissolve parliament, or remove the Prime Minister from his
position of Power.

As previously mentioned, the Maltese Constitution borrows from that of
the United Kingdom. However, some key differences include that the Maltese
Constitution is written, and it is the apex law of the land. On the contrary,
the British law is unwritten.

The Constitution also sets up a Parliamentary Democracy, which maintains
the separation of powers on the British Model. As a result of a legislative act
of the last colonial power, Malta is also not autochthonous. Autochthony means
that that the constitution is home grown. Since Maltese constitution was
enacted by a foreign legal process, the Maltese Constitution is not Autochthonous.19

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