Things We Learned From Malta's Electoral Party Manifestos From 50 Years Ago

Times have changed


The University of Malta's Electoral Resource is a treasure trove of everything local politics, and features statistics and material on every imaginable aspect. They also have a sizable library of old political manifestos.

The Nationalist Party's language was out of this world

Enrico Mizzi wasn't known for mincing words while speaking, but that's also true for when he was writing them. Under his leadership, the 1947 and 1950 PN manifestos featured emotionally charged language. 

"Men and Women of Malta and Gozo!", the manifesto starts, "the hour has almost struck now for the holding of the elections under the new Constitution which will come into force after fourteen years of a dictatorial regime ushered in by the most iniquitous coup-d'etat of the 2nd November, 1933."

The iniquitous coup-d'etat is a reference to the suspension of the Constitution in 1933 by the British amid a period of increasing pro-Italian sentiment, peddled primarily by Mizzi's party. 

Enrico Mizzi

Enrico Mizzi

A Maltese politician died from giving an impassioned speech

"Recalling to your mind the unforgettable names of the many patriots who struggled and suffered for our hallowed National cause...Ugo Mifsud who fell, in the full blast of war, on the field of duty whilst endeavouring in vain, in the Government Council, to save from an unjust and illegal deportation so many companions in nationalist faith and fight."

Sir Ugo Pasquale Mifsud suffered a heart attack as he was delivering a stirring and passionate speech against the British government's decision to exile 43 Maltese citizens to Uganda by the British colonial government. Mifsud subsequently died in his home in Lija two days later.

Mintoff and the Malta Labour Party listed faith as a guiding principle

It might seem odd in this day and age, but given the zeitgeist of the time, seeking to "in all actions take inspiration from the teachings of Our Lord Jesus Christ, as propounded by the Roman Catholic Church" is hardly surprising. The 1950 MLP manifesto continues: 

"In our relations with the British Government we are guided by the belief that all men are born free and equal; that all men are God's children. For the smooth and friendly cooperation between employers and employees, between rich and poor, we shall continue to apply the Christian tenets of the Rerum Novarum and Quadragesimo Anno."

And the jibes were similarly religious

Following the split between Paul Boffa and Dom Mintoff, the MLP considered "as un-Christian the Boffa Government's decision to increase the price of bread". 

Paul Boffa

Paul Boffa

L-Aqwa Żmien, 1950's style

The 1950's  PN manifesto captured some of the great strides Maltese society had made:

"As a result of the past two wars our country has undergone great changes in many spheres. Electric lighting. travel, motor transport, emigration, woman suffrage... [and] the talkies... are all new facts and circumstances that were bound to bring about a change in the way of living of the Maltese."

But mostly, people were trying to get a young country started

Boffa wasn't the only splinter from Dom Mintoff's MLP. Former secretary general Toni Pellegrini also had his fallout with Mintoff, primarily after the dispute with Archbishop Gonzi. He then went on to fund the Christian Workers' Party, whose 1962 manifesto captures just how much work the young country needed to get started:

"The building of hotels and will be speeded up. A school for cooks, waiters, chambermaids, bus drivers and conductors will be opened."

Though some things are eternal

"The bus will be helped and if necessary subsidised so that this public service is ameliorated", continued the CWP manifesto.


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Written By

Charles Mercieca

Charles Mercieca's interest in something tends to rise dramatically if he can plot it.