A (Brief) Beginner's Guide To Maltese History Part 18: This Is So Confusing

Baby steps towards Independence

Bongu Hi Orrajt 2 1

When the war ended, we started bickering with the British once again.

After the convoy from Operation Pedestal got here and saved the whole island from starvation, Malta was awarded the George Cross by King George VI for courage.

A bunch of things happened that year, like the Malta Conference — a meeting which took place in Floriana between the President of the United States, Roosevelt and the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister Winston Churchill, a kind of warmup pre-meeting to the Yalta conference with Stalin, if you will.

By 1947 Malta had itself a brand new constitution which gave it self-government once again, and this time Paul Boffa was chosen to be Malta’s Prime Minister.

This guy.

That same year, Agatha Barbara became the first woman to ever be elected as a Maltese Member of Parliament. She was notable also the first woman to hold the office of the President in Malta.

Let’s talk a bit about Agatha, since we don’t really know that much about her.

Agatha was known for her fierce temper, like that one time she flung an inkpot at her opponent during a debate; it is rumoured that the stain was still totally visible at least until 2002.

At the time, Malta was plagued by unemployment and unrest among the people, which prompted Barbara to join the Malta Labour Party, where she was continuously reelected for the next 34 years. She implemented compulsory schooling for children under the age of 14, she reformed education in just under five months during her time as the Education Minister, and introduced equal pay for women, among other things.

At the same time, Malta was slowly taking its first baby steps towards being independent. After achieving self-governance, the Maltese people wanted to be free from any oppression and do their own thing.

This is when Mintoff and Borg Olivier come in the scene.

Mintoff suggested either freedom or full integration with the UK, while Borg Olivier favoured independence from the British greatly.

In 1955, the British agreed somewhat reluctantly that Malta could have a seat in the British Parliament. Under this new offer, Malta would’ve been able to have control over Maltese affairs, except for taxation, foreign policy and defence.

Referendums were held, people argued, political parties bickered and everyone was getting restless.

The British were losing their patience as Malta no longer held strategic importance to them, meaning that the dockyards were not worth the financial upkeep. After several workers were fired from the dockyard, Mintoff resigned as Prime Minister (along with the whole party) and Borg Olivier refused an alternative government offered by the British. Malta declared a sate of emergency.

Our constitution was put on hold and we were once again placed under colonial rule.

Finally, in 1961 we got a brand new constitution which allowed a certain amount of self-governance on the island. Borg Olivier became Malta’s Prime Minister within a year’s time.

All of this paved Malta's way towards gaining independence from the British, a day which would come three years later.

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READ NEXT: A (Brief) Beginner's Guide To Maltese History Part 1: The Prehistoric Era


Written By

Chiara Micallef