Malta’s Labour Party and the Politics of Hegemony

This paper will analyze the successes and failures of Malta’s Labour Party since independence (1964), giving due attention to variables such the economy, class structure, politics, ideology and international factors. Particular emphasis will be given to factors such as Malta’s dual-party dominance, patronage and Catholic influence. I argue that the Labour Party has failed to be hegemonic since the 1970s, and that its current strategy of politics without adversaries is akin to convenient alliance-building for electoral purposes, rather than to the construction of a hegemonic formation for social change.

The Maltese context

The Maltese Islands have a land area of about 320 square kilometers and are situated south of Sicily and north of Libya in the centre of the Mediterranean Sea. Malta’s population, around 400,000, gives rise of one of the highest population densities in the world. Before achieving independence in 1964, the Maltese Islands were colonized by various foreign powers. These included the Phoenicians, the Romans, the Arabs, the Knights of St. John, the French (for two years), and the British.

The British – who ruled Malta from 1800 to 1964 – used Malta as a military base, developing a naval shipyard in the process. The development of Malta’s industrial base expanded during the mid-1960s and accelerated further during the 1970s. The economy was transformed from one depending on Britain’s defence needs to one based on exports of goods and services, the latter including tourism. In recent years, the service sector has outgrown the manufacturing sector. Malta joined the European Union (EU) in 2004.

Malta has been characterized by dependent development, late industrialization, and conflicts between different classes and local and foreign elites. The Catholic Church, for example, has had a great degree of influence in Maltese society and politics. To date, Malta is one of only two countries in the world that does not permit divorce (though it recognises divorces obtained elsewhere).

Like other Southern European societies, Maltese society is characterized by patronage, which has strong political implications. Indeed, as Jeremy Boissevain puts it, “politics has become a corrosive zerosum contest characterised by factional loyalty that reaches a veritable frenzy just before elections” (1993: 150).

Social and family background are important factors in this regard, and turnout in general elections always exceeds 90% of the electorate. Consequently, Malta’s two largest political parties, the Labour Party and the Nationalist Party, act like total institutions, with strong social networks as well as modern media apparatuses (Baldacchino 2002).

Maltese-style socialism: from hegemony to collapse

Malta’s Labour Party was founded in 1921, when union branches, band clubs and other organizations were invited to attend its founding meeting. In its first decades of existence, Labour achieved electoral victories in 1927 (through an alliance with the Constitutional Party), 1947, and 1955.

During the 1960s – the decade in which Malta achieved independence – Labour was involved in a bitter conflict with the Catholic Church, which was traditionally close to the Nationalist Party. The Church imposed the Interdict on all members of the Party National Executive for allegedly swinging the Party too much to the left. The relationship between the Malta Labour Party and the Catholic Church was eventually patched up, after lengthy discussions. A formal agreement was reached in April 1969 when the Church promised not to interfere in politics.

In 1971, Labour won the general elections, and Dom Mintoff became Prime Minister for the second time in his career. Mintoff, an architect who was influenced by British social democracy of the Fabian type as well as national-liberation socialism, was a charismatic figure who used rhetoric similar to that of contemporaries Nasser of Egypt and Makarios of Cyprus. Mintoff remained Prime Minister until his resignation in 1983. His hand-picked successor Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici lacked Mintoff’s charisma and was frequently seen as being led by Mintoff, albeit behind the scenes. Labour was eventually ousted from power in 1987 by the Nationalist Party, led by Eddie Fenech Adami.

During the 1970s and 1980s, Labour governments adopted ideology reminiscent of socialism on the one hand and nationalism on the other, whilst also adopting popular traditional values such as patronage. During this period, Labour had a strong alliance with the General Workers’ Union, which eventually resulted in a merger between the two and representation of the latter in the Cabinet.

Labour governments during this period emphasised the role of the state in the economy and social welfare. On the one hand, this led to heavy state intervention within a mixed economy, especially where there was lack of initiative from the private sector. Import substitution and bulk buying were implemented, frequently resulting in inferior local products. At the same time, however, Malta developed as an export-oriented economy. This was accompanied by the construction of much of Malta’s welfare state, making possible various universalistic social services.

As regards foreign policy, Labour governments of the time stressed Malta’s Mediterranean dimension, whilst maintaining equidistance from different blocs and regions. The apex of this policy was closure of the British military base on 31 March 1979. Malta subsequently became a neutral country in foreign affairs.

Labour governments were also more secular than previous Nationalist governments, yet at the same time the State was seen as too authoritarian. The distinction between State and Party was often blurred, thus giving space to violent acts by state agents and party thugs alike.

Under Labour, Malta’s working class expanded and experienced much improvement in standard of living. Indeed, it could be argued that during the 1970s, Labour governments were hegemonic, in that their State power earned a high degree of consent from a majority of the population (Briguglio 2001).

By the 1980s, Maltese society was characterised by growing unemployment, lack of choice for increasingly emancipated consumers, political polarisation, and violent political outbreaks, including violence from State organs. In the 1981 general elections, Labour remained in power without winning a majority of votes (due to Malta’s electoral system of the time, which was based on number of seats obtained, and which was later amended in time for the next general elections).

Labour was no longer hegemonic. Inward-looking and protectionist policies did not meet the economic aspirations of certain classes and categories of people. Indeed, Labour experienced conflicts with or lack of support from sections within the middle and working classes such as the upwardly mobile ones.

Nationalist hegemony and New Labour interval

Labour was eventually ousted in 1987, following a fierce and highly polarised electoral campaign. The Nationalist Party made a major electoral issue of the intense party polarisation in the country, “maintaining that the country was needlessly divided, and laying the blame on the methods of rule used by the Labour Party” (Fenech 1988: 134).

The Nationalists emphasised issues considered not to be determined by class, including national reconciliation, freedom of choice in the economic sphere, and the promotion of conservative Catholic values. Besides, the Nationalists also adopted popular issues that had to do with social services, welfare schemes and working conditions. Their electoral slogan was “Xoghol, Gustizzja, Liberta” (Work, Justice, Liberty).

Subsequently, Nationalist governments (which have been in power since 1987, save for a 22-month interval between 1996 and 1998) progressively liberalized the economy and successfully applied for Malta’s EU accession, which took place in 2004. During all these years, Eddie Fenech Adami remained Nationalist leader and Prime Minister, until his resignation in 2004, when he was replaced by Lawrence Gonzi. More recently, the Nationalist government has increasingly been adopting neoliberal economic policies.

In the meantime, Labour was led by Alfred Sant, who occupied the Party’s helm between 1992 and 2008. By the general election in 1996, Malta had witnessed stark changes within its occupational structure, as reflected in the country’s national census. The period 1985–95 was characterised by hefty increases in professional, technical, administrative, managerial, clerical, and skilled manual employment, and corresponding decreases in unskilled manual employment. More women entered the labour market. During the 1990s Malta also witnessed increases in consumer spending.

Both Maltese society and the Labour Party were increasingly affected by global economic, political and social changes. During the 1990s, Labour in Malta, led by Alfred Sant, touting the label “New,” presented itself as a modernised and moderate party. It incorporated an alliance-building strategy – “those who are not against us are with us” – which aimed for votes of middle-class citizens in addition to Labour’s working-class core. It also aimed to be a government for all Maltese citizens, irrespective of their political beliefs. In the process, the Party’s merger with the General Workers’ Union was dissolved after the Party’s electoral defeat in 1992 under Mifsud Bonnici. Subsequently, the Party managed to win support from the middleclass voters that it had previously alienated, as well as the support of other categories of voters.

The Party’s 1996 electoral programme “The Citizen First – A Vision for Modern Malta” stated that the private sector should be the motor of economic development, promising to remove the recentlyintroduced VAT fiscal policy that was unpopular amongst social categories such as small businesses. Labour also promised to transform Malta into a “Switzerland in the Mediterranean”, which, according to the Party, would unite Malta’s European and Mediterranean international orientations, short of EU membership, which in turn was being sought by the Nationalist government.

Labour won the 1996 elections, yet the New Labour government was short-lived, remaining in power for only 22 months. Amongst the major reasons for its downfall were its austerity measures, which were at least partly influenced by the massive fiscal deficit inherited from the Nationalist Government, but whose impact was aggravated by Labour’s clumsy replacement of VAT with a customs and excise tax.

Such measures, along with big increases in utility bills, contrasted with “feel good” policies under the Nationalists, which had increased purchasing power in Malta. Consequently, voters who had shifted back to Labour – such as upwardly mobile working class voters, those from the new middle class and the self-employed, as well as left-wing Labourites – were disappointed with Labour’s policies.

At the same time, Labour’s one-seat parliamentary majority depended on the support of DomMintoff, who contested the 1996 elections with Labour yet with his own personal programme. Mintoff voted against his own government in 1998, triggering an early general election which was won by the Nationalist Party. Mintoff’s rebellion against Sant’s government seemed to symbolize the differences between “Old” and “New” Labour, with the latter touting a free market economy within a modern democratic framework that optimised efficiency, deficit reduction and pluralism. While both Old and New Labour emphasised the importance of a mixed economy and a strong welfare state, New Labour no longer stressed heavy state intervention and the State’s obligation to provide or guarantee work. Besides, New Labour was more ideologically pragmatic, and felt less need to associate itself with socialism.

Changes could also be seen in the Party’s strategic method. Old Labour was strategically exclusive: it aimed to be pro-working class and created a durable hegemonic formation with the General Workers’ Union, thereby ushering in state capitalism and enhancing industrialisation. It was also repressive in certain aspects and discouraged pluralism. The Mintoffian slogan “min mhux maghna huwa kontra taghna” (those not with us are against us) summed up the strategy of Old Labour. This strategy was viable during the 1970s given the class structure in place.

New Labour, by contrast, was strategically inclusive. It aimed to include the expanding middle class together with the working class in its strategy, thus creating a new hegemonic formation. It also aimed to be the government for all Maltese citizens, irrespective of their political beliefs. Its strategy could be symbolised by Alfred Sant’s slogan “min mhux kontra taghna huwa maghna” (those not against us are with us). Sant gave little importance to patronage, arguing that the “citizen” came first, and not party loyalty, alienating Labourites in the process.

New Labour’s shift towards inclusiveness enabled it to emerge victorious in the 1996 general elections, but, unlike Old Labour, it failed to bring about a hegemonic formation.

On the other hand, there were examples of continuity between Old and New Labour, such as in the prioritization of materialist values, emphasising economic and physical security, as opposed to postmaterialist values emphasising self-expression and the quality of life (Inglehart 1990). Although post-materialist values were present in a younger generation, materialism and traditionalism consistently prevailed as the most common value-types (Abela 2000).

Both Old and New Labour faced Nationalist counter-hegemonic forces which were perceived by the majority of the electorate as being more socially conscious and conducive to a better economic situation and political stability. The Nationalist Party under Old Labour rule presented itself as a populist, modern and moderate alternative which would bring about national unity. Under New Labour, the Nationalist Party presented itself as being socially conscious, moderate and credible (Briguglio 2001).

Following its brief stint in power between 1996 and 1998, Labour went on to lose three consecutive elections in 1998, 2003 and 2008. The Nationalist Party had become a hegemonic force, steering Malta towards EU membership whilst emphasising ideologies which advocated the free market and consumerism on one hand, and traditional values and solidarity on the other.

Labour’s anti-EU crusade and Nationalist victories

Between 1998 and 2003, the Malta Labour Party consistently opposed Malta’s EU membership bid that was being championed by the Nationalist government, Malta’s Green Party, and other civil society organisations. Labour stressed its traditional role as shield to Malta’s workers and the national interest, giving top priority to the role of industry as a motor of Malta’s economy, and to the welfare state as a pillar of social justice. Labour emphasised the need for free trade, albeit giving more importance to the need to protect vulnerable sectors of the economy. In the process it made use of nationalistic discourse. Indeed, Labour stated that the Nationalist government was betraying the national interest by insisting that Malta should join the EU at all costs.

Ironically, although Labour was without its patriarch, Dom Mintoff, it was in various ways re-embracing certain characteristics of Old Labour. Old Labour’s “those not with us are against us” approach seemed to be back with a vengeance, yet it was out of synch within the current context of a more pluralistic and heterogeneous social setting. The times of a homogeneous working-class mass movement had been superseded, at least in popular perception.

During 2002 and 2003, talk of the forthcoming referendum and General Elections dominated Maltese society. A general election was constitutionally to be held by January 2004 at the latest. The EU issue dominated the island. Malta was divided into two camps. Those in favour of membership included the Nationalist Party, Alternattiva Demokratika, the Green Party, Union Haddiema Maqghudin,1 the Federation of Industry, the Chamber of Commerce, the Malta Employers Association, the Malta Union of Teachers, the Confederation of Malta Trade Unions, the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association, the Association of Farmers, environmental NGOs and, notably, Labour’s important 1996 ally the General Retailers Trade Union.

On the other side were the Malta Labour Party, the General Workers’ Union, the Campaign for National Independence (led by former Labour Prime Minister Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici), a sizeable section of the hunters and trappers’ lobby (even if not officially), Ghima2 (made up of a section of industrial entrepreneurs catering to the local market, such as a section of the furniture industry), the Progressive Farmers’ Union, and Dom Mintoff’s Front Maltin Inqumu (FMI) (Malta Arise Front). The latter organisation was formed just as Malta was concluding its negotiations with the EU. Old Labour stalwarts such as Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici and Sammy Meilaq were also active within its ranks; it argued for a re-negotiation of the treaty with the EU.

Surveys such as Eurobarometer were showing a majority of Maltese voters in support EU membership. People who were younger, had a good level of education and who formed part of the middle classes tended to favour EU membership more than did older and/or working-class people. Malta’s non-constitutionally binding referendum for EU membership was held on March 8, 2003; it was approved by 53.65% of voters. Following this, Alfred Sant said that a new Labour government would not sign the agreement made by the Nationalist government with the EU. One month later, the general elections were held. The Nationalist Party again emerged victorious, winning the same number of seats, 35, as in the previous election, against Labour’s 30. The Nationalist Party won 51.81% of the vote; Labour won 47.51%.

In the EU accession run-up, the pro-EU-membership camp had argued that Malta would benefit from membership, as Malta’s export-oriented economy would have greater access to EU markets and could act as a link to non-EU member states in the region. Youth would get increased opportunities for study and employment, enjoying the same rights as their European counterparts. It was also emphasised that the EU would help improve standards in areas such as the environment, workers’ and consumers’ rights, and gender equality – all associated with post-materialist values which were becoming increasingly important to Maltese citizens, particularly for the highly educated, young and expanding new middle-class. Moreover, the pro-EU camp had insisted that Malta would be a net receiver of EU funds at least for the initial years.

In addition, with the forthcoming EU membership, the Maltese also managed to win favourable arrangements in areas such as the environment, purchase of property, free movement of workers and foreign policy. In short, EU accession was projected as a concrete and credible project that reflected both materialist and post-materialist values.

So, in the 2003 general elections, Labour failed to win back categories of voters that had contributed to its 1996 victory. In 1996 Labour had won the sympathy of civil society organisations, middle- class voters, and various sections of the media. By 2003, Labour was in open conflict with too many sectors and interests. The Nationalist government may have been past its sell-by date to many, but at least it had a concrete forward-looking project in favouring EU membership. In contrast, Labour’s anti-EU strategy was too vague. Labour pronounced itself against the EU “one-size-fits-all” approach, yet failed to provide concrete alternatives for benefits of membership such as EU funds, increased access to European markets and educational opportunities, and higher environmental standards.

Labour’s “pick and choose” proposal – whereby, amongst other things, the government would be able to protect certain sectors of the economy – was also deemed unrealistic by EU Enlargement Commissioner Gu¨ nter Verheugen, and it was consistently shown that the Partnership proposal offered by Labour would result in more obligations than rights. Labour’s position during its 1996–98 government was already proven to lack traction. Indeed, an agreement between the Labour government and the EU said that

[t]he Association Council recognised that a free trade area between the EC and Malta should be fully WTO [World Trade Organisation] compatible and cover substantially all trade. (European Community – Malta Association Council 1998)

This meant that Malta would not be able to protect certain sectors, albeit taking account of agricultural policies and the sensitivity of certain products. At the same time Malta would be excluded from benefits of EU membership. Hence, the EU membership question was clear. Malta had to choose between being a member or having the same status as other Mediterranean non-members, hardly attractive for Maltese voters who aspired for a more “European” Malta.

The Labour Party’s strategy did not help it gain the support of many allies, apart from organisations that were already identified with the Party, such as its traditional ally, the General Workers’ Union and the Campaign for National Independence. A victorious electoral alliance could therefore not be achieved, let alone a hegemonic project. Labour’s strategy therefore resulted in defeat.

Between 1998 and 2003, Labour was strategically exclusive and utilised a hostile approach to supporters of EU membership, to the point of making it clear that the result of a referendum (which, legally speaking, was not binding) on the issue would not bind the Party. On the other hand, the Nationalist Party continuously reconfigured itself in accordance with changing social contexts. In the 1980s it presented itself as a populist, modern, moderate alternative promoting national unity. In 1998, it presented itself as being socially conscious, moderate and credible. In 2003 it presented itself as having a clear vision and a concrete project – EU membership.

Malta joined the EU in 2004 and the premiership of the Nationalist Party was transferred to Lawrence Gonzi, who projected strong charisma and an image of stability. During this time, various EU-driven economic reforms were carried out in Malta, and in the process the euro currency was also adopted. Economic liberalisation and privatisation were both on the increase. Whilst job opportunities and economy in general also grew, this resulted in added hardships, particularly for working-class and lower-middle-class groups. At the same time, reforms such as the introduction of divorce and the regulation of cohabitation remained excluded from Maltese social policy.

Following the 2003 defeat, Labour attempted to re-embark on the inclusive strategy used in the 1990s. Save for Alfred Sant, the leadership of the party was changed. In the run-up to the 2008 general elections Labour emphasised the need for change following almost twenty years of Nationalist governments. It emphasised the values of work, welfare and dignity, focusing on material issues such as cost of living and promising to safeguard the national interest within an EU framework, which it now accepted. Labour also emphasised the need for good governance.

Notwithstanding this, the Nationalist Party emerged victorious once again, albeit with a relative razor-thin majority of 1,580 votes. It had managed to attract support from the working class. This can clearly be seen from the fact that certain trade unions (such as Union Haddiema Maqghudin and the Confederation of Malta Trade Unions) are closer to its positions than to those of Labour.

Instead of dismantling the welfare state constructed by Labour, the Nationalists have improved certain aspects, even though questions as to the financial sustainability and efficiency of sectors such as health are becoming more evident. Only recently, the European Commission has warned Malta to curb spending, particularly in health and education, and to have more sustainable budgets. The standard of living in Malta has generally increased since the 1980s. The Nationalist Party has succeeded in creating a hegemonic formation based on the articulation of two main identities – the Catholic and the consumerist, winning support across class lines and amongst different social groups.

Yet, the Nationalist Party is characterised by contradictions which are commonly found in Christian Democratic parties. Like a pendulum, its politics can swing from fostering a social market to the New Right and neoliberal economics. In recent years, liberalisation, privatisation and overdevelopment of land have left their social and ecological impacts on the Maltese islands (Brown & Briguglio 2009; Boissevain 2000).

Today’s Labour: progressive and moderate

Following the third consecutive electoral defeat in 2008, Alfred Sant resigned as party leader. At the same time, Labour appointed a commission to report on what led to its electoral defeat. The report highlighted the existence of internal cliques and factions within the party, parochialism, poor communication strategies and other faults, putting much of the blame on Sant as well as on other members of the party leadership. The report went on to say that Sant’s re-election as party leader following the 2003 defeat “lost the party the sense of security and confidence it had before 1996” (Vella 2008).

Following an election with five other candidates, on June 6, 2008, 34-year old Joseph Muscat, a Member of the European Parliament, became the Labour Party’s new leader. Muscat immediately made it clear that he wanted to reconcile the factions within the Party and that he wanted the Party to carry our various reforms. As he put it,

There will be drastic changes. Some of them might lead to internal pain, but are necessary so that the party can live up to the country’s environmental, economic and social aspirations…

My vision is one where the Labour Party will be the basis of a movement of progressives and moderates, a movement for all those who identify themselves with the left and social democracy, with environmental rights and social justice, and a movement for those who from time to time [sic] base their thoughts on what they view as the best for themselves and their families. (Cited in Zahra 2008)

In November of the same year, the Malta Labour Party approved various changes to its statute, including a change in the party’s name to Partit Laburista.3 The party also decided to carry out changes in its emblem, dissolved structures such as its discipline and vigilance board, and replaced certain elected posts in its national executive with unelected ones. The conference during which these changes took place was entitled “Progressivi” (Progressives). Behind this title was a battle regarding the party’s political label, in which Muscat attempted to define the party as being social democrat. Former leader Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici vehemently opposed this and appealed for the retention of the “socialist democrat” tag. Bonnici’s vision prevailed in the end.

Labour’s first electoral challenge under the Muscat leadership was successful. Indeed, in the 2009 European Parliamentary and local council elections, Labour won by 54.77% and 55% respectively, against the Nationalist Party’s 40.49% and 44%. In the months preceding the 2009 elections, surveys showed that the top concern of Maltese people was illegal immigration, followed by issues such as the cost of living, all of which were given prominence in Labour’s electoral campaign (Briguglio 2009).

These results, coupled with general disillusionment with the Nationalist government – including by certain Nationalist parliamentary backbenchers – augur well for Labour. Yet one must keep in mind that Labour had also won the 2004 European elections – merely a year after its vehement opposition to EU membership. As for general elections, the Party lost three consecutive elections, and has only won a majority of votes once in the past seven general elections since 1976.

Where does Labour stand today? The party is using populist rhetoric over current controversial issues such as illegal immigration, following a hefty rise in the numbers of immigrants, especially from Africa, in recent years. Labour and Malta’s Left in general have a tough task to reconcile social justice with the priorities of many Maltese people from different class backgrounds, whose top concern is the immigration issue. In this regard, Labour has urged the Nationalist government to safeguard the “national interest” and consider vetoing EU policy concerning illegal immigration. It is questionable whether this is a progressive position, especially since it is close to the position of Malta’s far-right party Azzjoni Nazzjonali (National Action). At the same time, Labour is in agreement with the Nationalist and Green parties’ position in favour of burden and responsibility sharing amongst EU member states.

Labour is also sending an unclear message on its economic and social policies. Whilst it criticizes the Nationalist government for introducing measures that increase hardships on workers and small businesses, and whilst it speaks against exclusion of vulnerable groups such as single mothers, Labour is attempting to lure the middle classes by jumping on the neoliberal bandwagon in favour of tax cuts, arguing that this will provide a stimulus to the economy and generate revenue in the process. Labour also concurs with the Nationalist government against the introduction of a maximum 48-hour working week – as was proposed within the EU through the working-time directive.

On issues such as divorce, Labour is taking a cautious stand that can hardly be considered to be progressive. Instead of committing his party to take an outright position in favour of the introduction of this civil right – a position taken by Malta’s Greens, for example – Muscat has stated that he is personally favours divorce and favours of a free vote in parliament on this issue. This reveals the internal opposition he faces, including that of parliamentarians who have publicly stated that they do not agree with this civil right.

The environment has become a main issue in Labour’s political agenda. However, the party is failing to criticize certain big business interests which are responsible for unsustainable methods in areas such as land development and water usage. Labour is also trying to accommodate the hunters’ lobby in the latter’s attempt to maintain hunting in spring although this is not permitted by EU legislation.

Here one should note that Malta has no legally recognized system of party financing, and has an electoral system which is tailor-made to maintain a party duopoly. Labour has spoken about the need for change in these areas, but so have the Nationalists. Beyond rhetoric, it seems that both parties are content with keeping the status quo. So much for Labour’s “progressive” agenda.

Conclusion: Labour’s politics without adversaries – a replica of 1996?

While Muscat may well succeed in undermining the Nationalist hegemony on the middle classes without losing his own, his newly assembled coalition might well be just as pregnant with contradictions. (Debono 2009)

Malta’s Labour Party is currently attempting a replica of its 1996 strategy, creating a politics without adversaries which attempts to bypass conflicting interests. It is once again advocating a “Third Way” strategy of uniting traditional core supporters with other sectors such as the middle class and the growing number of non-voters. What Norman Fairclough (2000) says of Britain’s New Labour can be applied to Malta’s Labour, namely that the party is facing a contradictory situation, seeking to achieve rhetorically what it cannot achieve in reality – a reconciliation of neoliberal “enterprise” with “social justice”.

Labour’s “progressive and moderate” banner is akin to alliancebuilding for electoral purposes. It may well transpire that such a politics of convenience is not convenient at all for the creation of a new hegemonic formation in synch with the social, ecological and economic challenges of Maltese society. Indeed, Labour’s “progressive and moderate movement” may turn out to be effective only for maintaining the status quo.


1. Tr. from Maltese: Union of United Workers. This is Malta’s second largest tradeunion after the General Workers Union, and its base is made up mostly of public and service-sector workers. It is historically closer to the Nationalist Party than the GWU, which is closer to Labour.

2. Tr. from Maltese: “Ouch!” Ghima however is also an abbreviation.

3. Tr. from Maltese: “Labour Party”. Until then the party’s official name, in English, was Malta Labour Party. In Maltese, the party’s official name was Partit tal-Haddiema (Workers’ Party). Malta’s official languages are Maltese and English.


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