Dom Mintoff

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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 by Position Abolished
Personal details
Born 6 August 1916
Bormla, Malta
Died 20 August 2012(2012-08-20) (aged 96)
Tarxien, Malta
Political party Labour Party
Spouse(s) Moyra de Vere Bentinck
Children 2
Religion Roman Catholic

Dominic Mintoff (Maltese: Duminku Mintoff; often called il-Perit, "the Architect"; 6 August 1916 – 20 August 2012) was a Maltese politician, journalist, and architect 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.[1] His tenure as Prime Minister was notable due to the establishment of a comprehensive welfare state.[2][3][4]

Early life and education[edit]

Mintoff was born in Bormla. 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.[citation needed]

Early political career (1935–1949)[edit]

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 the 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.[citation needed]

Leader of the Labour Party (1949–1984)[edit]

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 in 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. The Labour Party lost the subsequent two elections in 1962 and 1966 and boycotted the Independence celebrations in 1964.

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, 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 homosexuality and adultery were decriminalised. Through a package of constitutional reforms agreed to with the opposition party, Malta became a republic in 1974.[citation needed]

The Labour Party was confirmed in office in the 1976 elections. In 1981 the Party managed to hold on to a parliamentary majority, even though the opposition Nationalist Party managed an absolute majority of more than 4000 votes. 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. Premier Dom 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, who had been considering vacating the party leadership position even before the elections,[citation needed] voluntarily resigned as Prime Minister and Party leader in 1984 (although he retained his parliamentary seat). A Party General Conference in that same year appointed Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici who acted uncontested as party leader.[citation needed]

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, this was not to be: 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, as well as increasing political violence in the street such as the Black Monday incident.[citation needed]

Labour backbencher (1984–1998)[edit]

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, 1992 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 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]

Post-parliamentary (1998–2012)[edit]

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 rapproachment with Labour was made.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Mintoff was married to Moyra de Vere Bentinck from 1947 until her death in 1997.[5][6] The couple got married at the parish church of Bir id-Deheb, Our Lady of Mercy, in Żejtun.[7] He met her during his studies in Oxford. The couple had two daughters, Anne and Yana.


Mintoff was taken to hospital in July 2012.[8] He was later discharged and spent his 96th birthday at home[9][10] where he died on 20 August.[11] He was given a state funeral by the Government of Malta on 25 August.[12]


Monument of Dom Mintoff in Cospicua
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.[13]

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).[14]



  1. ^ "Encyclopædia Britannica: Dom Mintoff". Retrieved 20 February 2010. 
  2. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-02-27. Retrieved 2013-08-25. 
  3. ^ Media and Maltese Society - Carmen Sammut. Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
  4. ^ "Dom Mintoff, Malta's political giant, passes away". Retrieved 2016-08-19. 
  5. ^ 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
  6. ^ "Dom Mintoff". Telegraph. 2012-08-21. Retrieved 2016-08-19. 
  7. ^ "Tal-Hniena-Zejtun". Retrieved 2016-08-19. 
  8. ^ "Dom Mintoff's health condition 'improved remarkably' - Mater Dei". 26 July 2012. Retrieved 26 July 2012. 
  9. ^ "Dom Mintoff discharged from Mater Dei Hospital on Saturday". 5 August 2012. Retrieved 5 August 2012. 
  10. ^ Xuereb, Matthew (5 August 2012). "Mintoff to spend his 96th birthday quietly at home". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 5 August 2012. 
  11. ^ "Times of Malta: Dom Mintoff, Malta's political giant, passes away.". 20 August 2012. Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
  12. ^ "State funeral for Dom Mintoff". 20 August 2012. Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
  13. ^ "Dom Mintoff's monument unveiled in Cospicua by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat". The Malta Independent. 12 December 2014. Retrieved 30 March 2016. 
  14. ^ "Corradino Road becomes Dom Mintoff Road, Gaddafi Gardens renamed". Times of Malta. 30 March 2016. Retrieved 30 March 2016. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Giorgio Borg Olivier
Prime Minister of Malta
Succeeded by
Office abolished
Preceded by
Giorgio Borg Olivier
Prime Minister of Malta
Succeeded by
Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici
Party political offices
Preceded by
Paul Boffa
Leader of the Labour Party
Succeeded by
Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici