Malta's Labour Party declares election victory

Malta's prime minister claimed victory Sunday in early elections called to consolidate the government's position after his wife was implicated in the Panama Papers scandal, saying unofficial results indicate a "sizeable" win for his Labour Party.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat told Malta's national broadcaster that voters had "chosen the positive campaign of the Labour Party as against the negativity and bitterness of the Nationalist Party."

Unofficial results showed the Labour Party with 55 percent of the vote, in line with its mandate from the previous election in 2013. The National Force coalition placed second, with 44 percent.

Official results will be released on Monday. A victory would give Labour a second five-year term.

Muscat called the snap elections a year early following an investigation into allegations his wife owned a company related to the Panama Papers scandal. They deny wrongdoing.

The Panama Papers leak exposed the identities of the rich and powerful around the world with offshore holdings in Panama, including also Muscat's energy minister and chief of staff.