Dom Mintoff

Last updated

Dom Mintoff

Dom Mintoff (1974).jpg
8th Prime Minister of Malta
In office
21 June 1971 22 December 1984
Monarch Elizabeth II
President Anthony Mamo
Anton Buttigieg
Albert Hyzler (Acting)
Agatha Barbara
Governor-General Maurice Henry Dorman
Anthony Mamo
Preceded by Giorgio Borg Olivier
Succeeded by Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici
In office
11 March 1955 26 April 1958
Monarch Elizabeth II
Governor Robert Laycock
Preceded by Giorgio Borg Olivier
Succeeded byPosition Abolished
Personal details
Born6 August 1916
Bormla, Malta
Died20 August 2012(2012-08-20) (aged 96)
Tarxien, Malta
Political party Labour Party
Spouse(s)
Moyra de Vere Bentinck
(m. 1947;died 1997)
Children

Domenico Mintoff, KUOM (Maltese : Duminku Mintoff; often called il-Perit, "the Architect"; 6 August 1916 – 20 August 2012) [1] was a Maltese Socialist politician, architect, anti-colonialist revolutionary, and civil engineer who was leader of the Labour Party from 1949 to 1984, and was 8th Prime Minister of Malta from 1955 to 1958, when Malta was still a British colony, and again, following independence, from 1971 to 1984. [2] His tenure as Prime Minister saw the creation of a comprehensive welfare state, nationalisation of large corporations, a substantial increase in the general standard of living and the establishment of the Maltese republic, [3] [4] [5] but was later on marred by a stagnant economy, a rise in authoritarianism and outbreaks of political violence. [6] [7] [8] [9]

Contents

Early life and education

Mintoff was born on the 6th of August 1916, and was baptised in his hometown Bormla. [10] His father was a naval cook and his mother a money lender. [11] He attended a seminary before enrolling at the University of Malta. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science and, later, as an architect and civil engineer (1937). That same year he received a Rhodes Scholarship and pursued his studies at Hertford College, Oxford, where he received a Masters in Science and Engineering in 1939. [11]

Political career

Early political career (1935–1949)

After a brief stint as an official of the Bormla Labour Party club, Mintoff was Labour's Secretary General between 1935 and 1945 (resigning briefly to pursue his studies abroad). He was first elected to public office in 1945 to the Government Council. In the same year, Mintoff was elected Deputy Leader of the Party with a wide margin that placed him in an indisputable position as the successor, if not a challenger, to party leader Paul Boffa. After Labour's victory at the polls in 1947, Mintoff was appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Works and Reconstruction, overseeing large post-War public projects. [7]

Leader of the Labour Party (1949–1984)

Mintoff's strong position and ambition led to a series of Cabinet crises. A split in the Labour Party came about when Boffa, who was ready for compromise and moderation with the colonial authorities, resigned and formed the Malta Workers Party and Mintoff refounded the Labour Party as the "Malta Labour Party" of which he assumed leadership. The split resulted in the weakening of both parties and it was not until 1955 after remaining out of government for three consecutive legislatures, that the Labour Party was elected to office with Mintoff as Prime Minister. This government's main political platform – integration with the UK – led to a deterioration of the Party's relations with the Catholic Church, leading to interdiction by the Church which resulted in voting Labour being declared a mortal sin leading all who defied the Church to be informally known as "Suldati tal-Azzar" (Soldiers of Steel). The Labour Party lost the subsequent two elections in 1962 and 1966 and boycotted the Independence celebrations in 1964 due to disagreements with the Independence agreements which still gave a good amount of power to the British Government. [5]

Following the lift of the interdiction in 1964, and the improvement of relationship with the Catholic Church in 1969, Dom Mintoff was elected as Prime Minister when Labour won the 1971 general election and immediately set out to re-negotiate the post-Independence military and financial agreements with the United Kingdom. The government also undertook socialist-style nationalization programmes, often in breach of property rights, [9] import substitution schemes, and the expansion of the public sector and the welfare state. Employment laws were revised with gender equality being introduced in salary pay. In the case of civil law, civil (non-religious) marriage was introduced and sodomy, homosexuality and adultery were decriminalised. Through a package of constitutional reforms agreed to with the opposition party, Malta declared itself a republic in 1974. [12] In 1979, the last of the British Naval Troops left Malta.

The Labour Party was confirmed in office in the 1976 elections. In 1981, amid allegations of gerrymandering, the Party managed to hold on to a parliamentary majority, even though the opposition Nationalist Party managed an absolute majority of votes. [13] A serious political crisis ensued when Nationalist MPs refused to accept the electoral result and also refused to take their seats in parliament for the first years of the legislature. Mintoff called this action "perverse" but it was not an uncommon one in any parliamentary democracy with disputed election results. He proposed to his parliamentary group that fresh elections be held,[ citation needed ] but most members of his Parliamentary group rejected his proposal.[ citation needed ] Mintoff stayed on as prime minister until 1984, during which time he suspended the Constitutional Court. [14] He resigned as Prime Minister and Party leader aged 68 in 1984 (although he retained his parliamentary seat), opening the way for his deputy prime minister Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici to succeed him. [13]

For the 1981 elections, the opposition Nationalist Party, reinvigorated with a new leader, looked set for a serious challenge to Mintoff. In fact, in that election, the Partit Nazzjonalista managed an absolute majority of votes, but managed only 31 seats to the Malta Labour Party's 34. Mintoff said that he would not be ready to govern in such conditions and hinted that he would call for fresh elections within six months. However, pressure from party members forced Mintoff to do otherwise: Mintoff eventually accepted the President's invitation to form a government. This led to a political crisis whose effects continued through much of the 1980s characterised by mass civil disobedience and protests led by Opposition Leader Eddie Fenech Adami as well as increasing political violence in the street as a result such as the Black Monday incident. [ citation needed ]

Labour backbencher (1984–1998)

Mintoff resigned as Prime Minister and Leader of the Labour Party in 1984, while retaining his Parliamentary seat and remaining a government backbencher. He was succeeded by Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici. Mintoff was instrumental in convincing his parliamentary colleagues to support constitutional amendments ensuring a parliamentary majority for the party achieving an absolute majority of votes. A repeat of 1981 was thus avoided, and the Partit Nazzjonalista went on to win the 1987 elections. The Labour Party went into opposition for the first time in sixteen years. He successfully contested the 1987 and 1996 elections. However, there was a growing rift between Mintoff, seen as Old Labour, and Alfred Sant, the new Labour Leader. Things came to a head in 1998 when the Labour government was negotiating the lease of sealine to be developed in a yacht marina in Birgu. Mintoff eventually voted against the government's motion which was defeated. The Prime Minister saw this as a loss of confidence and The President, acting on Prime Minister Sant's advice dissolved Parliament and elections were held. This was the first time, since the war, that Mintoff's name was not on the ballot paper and the Malta Labour Party lost heavily. [ citation needed ]

Foreign policy

After Mintoff's initial attempts at integration with Great Britain proved unsuccessful he resigned in 1958 and became a strident advocate of decolonisation and independence. [15] Returning to office in 1971, he immediately set about renegotiating Malta's defence agreement with Britain. [15] The difficult negotiations with Britain, which later resulted in the departure of British forces in 1979 and the attendant losses in rent, were coupled with a policy of Cold War brinkmanship which saw Mintoff seek to play rivals off each other and look increasingly east and south, courting Mao Zedong, Kim Il-sung, Nicolae Ceaușescu and Muammar Gaddafi. [11]

Recently declassified CIA reports show US fears that a Mintoff-led government in Malta could see the country fall under the Soviet sphere of influence. The reports also show that the US was planning to rig the Maltese election in favour of the opposition in order to bring down Mintoff's government. [16]

Mintoff opposed Malta's EU and eurozone membership on the concern for Malta's status as a constitutionally neutral country. [17]

Post-retirement (1998–2012)

Since retiring from parliamentary politics, Mintoff's involvement in public life was only occasional. He made some appearances in the referendum campaign on Malta's membership to the EU and, with Alfred Sant being replaced in 2008, some rapprochement with Labour was made. [ citation needed ]

Personal life

On 22 November 1947, Mintoff married Moyra de Vere Bentinck (12 July 1917 – 16 December 1997) [18] [19] [20] [21] [22] The couple got married at the parish church of Bir id-Deheb, Our Lady of Mercy, in Żejtun. [23] He met her during his studies in Oxford. The couple had two daughters, Anne and Yana. Yana, a member of the Socialist Workers Party, acquired brief notoriety in 1978 when she bombed the chamber of the UK House of Commons with manure in a protest against the British military presence in Northern Ireland. [13]

Death

Mintoff was taken to hospital on 18 July 2012. [24] He was later discharged on 4 August and spent his 96th birthday at home [25] [26] where he died on 20 August. [27] He was given a state funeral by the Government of Malta on 25 August. [28]

Legacy

Monument of Dom Mintoff in Cospicua Dom Mintoff Monument, Cospicua.jpg
Monument of Dom Mintoff in Cospicua

While generations of loyal supporters continue to credit Mintoff with the introduction of social benefits like the children's allowance, two-thirds pensions, minimum wage and social housing as well as the creation of Air Malta, Sea Malta, the separation of church and state and ending 200 years of British Colonial rule, critics point to his divisive legacy and the violence and unrest that characterised his time in office. It has also been pointed out by Mintoff's critics that a pervasive cult of personality has been maintained after his death, most prominently within the Labour Party.

Dom Mintoff Road in Paola Malta - Paola - Triq Kordin 01 ies.jpg
Dom Mintoff Road in Paola

A statue of Mintoff was unveiled in his hometown Cospicua on 12 December 2014. The monument was designed by the artist Noel Galea Bason. [29]

In 2013, the main square in front the church of Our Lady of Mercy in Bir id-Deheb, Żejtun was renamed Dom Mintoff Square.

In March 2016, Corradino Road (Maltese : Triq Kordin) in Paola was renamed Dom Mintoff Road (Maltese : Triq il-Perit Dom Mintoff). [30]

In August 2017, a project was launched to convert a large green area in the town of Paola into a park called the "Dom Mintoff Gardens".

In May 2018, another statue of Mintoff was unveiled in Castille Square in Valletta directly opposite the office of the Prime Minister.

Honours

Related Research Articles

Nationalist Party (Malta) Political party in Malta

The Nationalist Party is a Christian-democratic, conservative political party in Malta. It is one of two major contemporary political parties in Malta, along with the governing Labour Party. The Nationalist Party is currently in opposition to the Labour Party.

Eddie Fenech Adami Maltese politician

Edoardo "Eddie" Fenech Adami, is a Maltese politician and Nationalist politician who served as Prime Minister of Malta from 1987 until 1996, and again from 1998 until 2004. Subsequently, he was the seventh President of Malta from 2004 to 2009. He led his party to win five general elections, in 1981, 1987, 1992, 1998 and 2003. Staunchly pro-European, Fenech Adami is the longest serving Maltese prime minister since Malta's independence, and was fundamental for Malta's accession to the European Union.

Labour Party (Malta) political party in Malta

The Labour Party, formerly known as the Malta Labour Party (MLP), is a social-democratic political party in Malta. Along with the Nationalist Party (PN), the Labour Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in Malta. Since the March 2013 general election, the party has been the governing party in the Maltese House of Representatives. The Labour Party is a member of the Party of European Socialists, and was a member of the Socialist International until December 2014.

Lawrence Gonzi Maltese politician

Lawrence Gonzi, is a Maltese politician, retired Nationalist politician and lawyer, who served for twenty-five years in various critical roles in Maltese politics. Gonzi was Prime Minister of Malta from 2004 to 2013, and leader of the Nationalist Party. He also served as speaker of the House from 1988 to 1996, and Minister of Social Policy from 1998 to 2004, as well as Deputy Prime Minister from 1999 to 2004. He served in practically all positions in Parliament, being also Leader of the House, an MP and Leader of the Opposition.

Agatha Barbara Maltese politician

Agatha Barbara, was a Maltese politician, having served as a Labour Member of Parliament and Minister. She was the first woman to hold the office of President of Malta, and is the longest standing woman Member of Parliament in Maltese political history.

George Borg Olivier Maltese politician and attorney

Giorgio Borg Olivier, was a Maltese statesman and leading politician. He twice served as Prime Minister of Malta as the Leader of the Nationalist Party. He was also Leader of the Opposition between 1955–58, and again between 1971–77.

Alfred Sant Maltese writer, editor, politician

Alfred Sant, is a Maltese politician and a novelist. He led the Labour Party from 1992 to 2008 and served as Prime Minister of Malta between 1996 and 1998 and as Leader of the Opposition from 1992 to 1996 and from 1998 to 2008.

Joseph Muscat Former Prime Minister of Malta

Joseph Muscat, is a Maltese politician who served as Prime Minister of Malta from 2013 to 2020, and Leader of the Partit Laburista (PL) from June 2008 to January 2020. Muscat was re-elected as prime minister in the elections of 3 June 2017. Previously he was a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from 2004 to 2008. He was Leader of the Opposition from October 2008 to March 2013. Muscat identifies as a progressive and liberal politician, with pro-business leanings, and has been associated with both economically liberal and socially liberal policies.

Black Monday in Malta refers to 15 October 1979 when the Progress Press and the home of Eddie Fenech Adami, then Leader of the Opposition, were ransacked following a rally by the Labour Party.

Yana Mintoff Maltese activist

Yana Bland or Yana Bland Mintoff is a Maltese Labour politician, economist and educator. Mintoff was born on 21 August 1951, the daughter of the former Prime Minister of Malta, Dom Mintoff and Moyra De Vere Bentinck, by whom she is descended from both Dutch and British nobility.

1981 Maltese general election

General elections were held in Malta on 12 December 1981.

Michael Falzon (politician) Maltese politician (PL)

Michael Falzon is a Member of the Maltese Parliament of the Malta Labour Party (PL). He stood as a candidate for the second and tenth electoral divisions of Malta for the PL. He was elected from both districts.

Constitutional Party (Malta) former pro-British political party in Malta

The Constitutional Party was a pro-British political party in Malta. It had representatives in the Maltese Legislative Assembly and Council of Government between 1921 and 1945, and again between 1950 and 1953, forming a government between 1927 and 1930 with the support of the Labour Party. A splinter group, the Progressive Constitutionalist Party was represented in Parliament between 1962 and 1966. The party was very much centred on the figure of its long-time leader Lord Strickland, with party supporters colloquially known in Maltese as "Stricklandjani".

George Vella President of Malta (2019-present)

George William Vella, is a Maltese politician and the 10th and current President of Malta. He was Malta's Minister for Foreign Affairs from 1996 to 1998, under Prime Minister Alfred Sant, and under Prime Minister Joseph Muscat from 2013 to 2017. He was inaugurated as the 10th President of Malta on 4 April 2019.

Ġużè Ellul Mercer was a Maltese author, journalist and politician. He joined the Labour Party (PL) and he started his parliamentary career in 1924. He was subsequently elected Member of Parliament at the general elections held in 1951 and 1955. In 1955, he was elected Labour Party deputy-leader for parliamentary affairs. He was also appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Public Works and Reconstruction in 1955, but lost that position after the 1958 election.

Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando Maltese politician

Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando is a Maltese former Member of Parliament, and now the executive chairman of the Malta Council for Science and Technology.

Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici, is a Maltese politician who served as Prime Minister of Malta from December 1984 to May 1987. He is a member of the Labour Party. He studied law at the University of Malta.

Franco Debono Maltese politician

Franco Debono is the former Commissioner of Laws of Malta, appointed by the Labour-led administration of Joseph Muscat on 24 March 2013. Debono is a criminal defence lawyer. From 2008 until 2013 served one term as Member of Parliament for the Nationalist Party. During his stay in parliament, Debono became known for frequently rebelling against the Cabinet led by Lawrence Gonzi, which Debono considered an "evil clique" and held responsible for suffocating meritocracy.

Wistin Abela was a Maltese politician. He was the Finance Minister from 1983 to 1987, and the Deputy Prime Minister of Malta from 1981 to 1983.

2019 European Parliament election in Malta 2019 election of members of the European parliament for Malta

The 2019 European Parliament election was held in Malta on 25 May 2019. 8 different political parties took part in the elections, of which, only 2 won seats in the European Parliament; the Labour Party and the Nationalist Party, with 4 and 2 seats respectively.

References

  1. Publishing, Britannica Educational (1 June 2013). "Cyprus, Greece, and Malta". Britanncia Educational Publishing. Retrieved 9 May 2018 via Google Books.
  2. "Encyclopædia Britannica: Dom Mintoff". britannica.com. Retrieved 20 February 2010.
  3. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-02-27. Retrieved 2013-08-25.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. Media and Maltese Society - Carmen Sammut. Books.google.com. Retrieved 20 August 2012.
  5. 1 2 "Dom Mintoff, Malta's political giant, passes away". Timesofmalta.com. Retrieved 2016-08-19.
  6. "Dom Mintoff". 2012-08-21. ISSN   0307-1235 . Retrieved 2018-02-18.
  7. 1 2 "Dom Mintoff, a dominant figure in Malta for 30 years, did great harm to his country | CatholicHerald.co.uk". CatholicHerald.co.uk. 2012-08-22. Retrieved 2018-02-18.
  8. "CIA Files Show 20 Years Of Paranoia About Dom Mintoff" . Retrieved 2018-02-18.
  9. 1 2 "Court finds in favour of National Bank shareholders - The Malta Independent". independent.com.mt. Retrieved 2018-02-18.
  10. https://www.academia.edu/8007251/Il-Perit_Duminku_Mintoff_u_l-Immakulata_1916-2012
  11. 1 2 3 McFadden, Robert D. (2012-08-20). "Dom Mintoff, Proponent of Maltese Independence, Dies at 96". The New York Times. ISSN   0362-4331 . Retrieved 2018-02-18.
  12. Monarchy and the End of Empire: The House of Windsor, the British Government, and the Postwar Commonwealth, Philip Murphy, OUP Oxford, 2013, page 157
  13. 1 2 3 Patterson, Moira (2012-08-21). "Dom Mintoff obituary". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-02-18.
  14. Ltd, Allied Newspapers. "How the Constitutional Court betrays Malta's Constitution". Times of Malta. Retrieved 2018-02-18.
  15. 1 2 "Obituary: Dom Mintoff". BBC News. 2012-08-21. Retrieved 2018-02-18.
  16. Central Intelligence Agency. "The Outlook for an Independent Malta" (PDF). cia.gov. Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  17. "Dom Mintoff: Pugnacious Prime Minister of Malta who fought for". The Independent. 2012-08-23. Retrieved 2018-02-18.
  18. "Current World Leaders". International Academy at Santa Barbara. 9 May 1980. Retrieved 9 May 2018 via Google Books.
  19. "Moyra de Vere Mintoff". geni_family_tree. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  20. "Person Page". thepeerage.com. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  21. Charles Mosley, editor, Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, 107th edition, 3 volumes (Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.A.: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 2003), volume 3, page 3183
  22. "Dom Mintoff". Telegraph. 2012-08-21. Retrieved 2016-08-19.
  23. "Tal-Hniena-Zejtun". Kappellimaltin.com. Archived from the original on 2016-07-01. Retrieved 2016-08-19.
  24. "Dom Mintoff's health condition 'improved remarkably' - Mater Dei". maltatoday.com. 26 July 2012. Retrieved 26 July 2012.
  25. "Dom Mintoff discharged from Mater Dei Hospital on Saturday". gozonews.com. 5 August 2012. Retrieved 5 August 2012.
  26. Xuereb, Matthew (5 August 2012). "Mintoff to spend his 96th birthday quietly at home". The Sunday Times. timesofmalta.com. Retrieved 5 August 2012.
  27. "Times of Malta: Dom Mintoff, Malta's political giant, passes away". timesofmalta.com. 20 August 2012. Retrieved 20 August 2012.
  28. "State funeral for Dom Mintoff". timesofmalta.com. 20 August 2012. Retrieved 20 August 2012.
  29. "Dom Mintoff's monument unveiled in Cospicua by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat". The Malta Independent . 12 December 2014. Retrieved 30 March 2016.
  30. "Corradino Road becomes Dom Mintoff Road, Gaddafi Gardens renamed". Times of Malta . 30 March 2016. Retrieved 30 March 2016.
  31. "List of recipients of the International Prize for Human Rights". algaddafi.org. Archived from the original on 2014-03-09. Retrieved 2018-02-19.
  32. "Dom Mintoff". 2012-08-21. ISSN   0307-1235 . Retrieved 2018-02-19.
Political offices
Preceded by
Giorgio Borg Olivier
Prime Minister of Malta
1955–1958
Vacant
Title next held by
Giorgio Borg Olivier
Prime Minister of Malta
1971–1984
Succeeded by
Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici
Party political offices
Preceded by
Paul Boffa
Leader of the Labour Party
1949–1984
Succeeded by
Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici