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Last Updated: Monday, 10 March 2008, 11:26 GMT
Malta's PM wins close re-election
Malta's Prime Minister and Nationalist Party leader Lawrence Gonzi - 8 March 2008
Lawrence Gonzi campaigned on his economic record
Malta's ruling Nationalist Party has won Saturday's general election by the slimmest margin in the Mediterranean state's four-decade history.

The Nationalists beat the opposition Labour Party by some 1,500 votes - 0.5% of the nearly 300,000 votes cast, election officials said.

Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi appealed for unity among Malta's traditionally polarised voters.

The election was the first since Malta joined the EU in 2004.

Valletta celebrations

The Nationalists' victory was announced after a close tally of votes which took more than 24 hours.

The result sent supporters into the streets of the capital, Valletta, honking car horns and waving party flags.

Turnout was 93%.

The Nationalist Party has governed Malta since 1987, apart from 1996-1998 when Labour was in power.

Mr Gonzi has been prime minister since 2004 and is expected to continue his economic-focused and pro-EU policies.

The nation of 400,000 people gained independence from Britain in 1964.

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