Malta Euro Coins "2011-2015 Constitutional History Series Explained"


In the year 2014, Malta will celebrate its 50th anniversary since it had acquired independence from Great Britain. The 5 coins in the series are all in a way related to this major event in the history of Malta. The first 3 coins in the series reflect milestones that ultimately road-mapped Malta to Independence, in 2014 the Central Bank of Malta will issue the Independence coin in the same year that Malta celebrates the 50th anniversary since that event and a year after will commemorate a post-Independence milestone, Malta becoming a Republic.

First Election of Representatives in 1849

After securing the abolition of censorship and thus freedom of the press in 1839, Malta was granted a constitution in 1849 which, unlike its predecessor of 1835, provided for the holding of elections. This meant that, for the first time under British rule and at a time when continental Europe was in a state of reformist agitation, the Maltese electorate could vote to elect its own representatives to sit in a colonial legislature, the Council of Government, albeit in a minority. This meant that candidates could campaign through the newspapers and public meetings, thus facilitating the formation of public opinion and slowly changing the nature of governance in Malta. It is noteworthy that, from the 1820s onwards, Malta had received hundreds of Italian refugees, for the most part liberals and republicans, who were striving for a united Italy free of foreign occupation.

1887 Majority Representation

After 1849 situations occasionally arose where the elected members could not enforce their will, being in a minority in the Council vis-a-vis the British Governor and his nominated members on the official side. Over time, a general feeling came to prevail in favour of an elected majority which would be better able to enact legislation. This was not an easy objective because Britain considered Malta as a strategic fortress wherein security had to be assured within strict parameters. Following the unification of Italy and Germany, Maltese political parties formed and mobilized, with the Partito Nazionale led by Dr Fortunato Mizzi in the ascendant. Its main demand - an elected majority - materialised in 1887 with the granting of Representative Government. Due mainly to staunchly resisted attempts at Anglicization, coupled with a real or imagined fear of irredentism or proselytization, this constitution was, however, revoked in 1903. An impasse ensued until after the First World War when, in the wake of further unrest which saw a number of Maltese demonstrators killed by British troops - the Sette Giugno - internal self-government was granted in 1921.

Establishment of Self-Government in 1921

Although the British retained various reserved matters under their direct control, including defence and foreign affairs, the 1921 constitution was the most democratic up to that point. It made provision for a Legislative Assembly to be returned by an extended franchise, and for a Senate sitting as an Upper House. For the first time the administration of Malta's domestic affairs would  been trusted to aCabinet of Ministers responsible to an elected legislature. The island's  largest single employer, the Royal Dockyard, remained under Admiralty control, but the Maltese government could initiate legislation in various domains. After three general elections, trouble arose between the administration led by the Constitutional-Labour compact and the Church, heralding a period of recurrent turbulence. English and Maltese were recognized as official languages in 1934 when the culture clash came to a head and the Nationalist administration, which had been returned in a landslide in 1932, was dismissed in 1933. It was not until 1947 that self-government was restituted, whereupon the march towards social and  political reform resumed. The plan to integrate Malta with Britain having failed, in December 1957 the Labour and Nationalist parties agreed to 'break with Britain', but a few months later the Labour government resigned and 'self-government' once again went into abeyance.

Independence from Britain in 1964

After modifying some aspects of the newly-granted constitution under which elections had been held in 1962 and claims for financial assistance went unheeded, the Nationalist government in August 1962 formally demanded independence. Negotiations lasted two years: although the Labour opposition supported the move in principle, there were disagreements as to what, when and how. Three smaller parties in parliament opposed an immediate separation from Britain. The Church, at odds with the Labour Party, sought to preserve its position. Given the delicate geopolitical situation in the Mediterranean during the Cold War, Britain would not let Malta go without safeguards relating to defence and security, nor would the British parliament consent to any constitution which unduly advantaged the Church. After a referendum on the proposed constitution - for a parliamentary democracy essentially based on a separation of powers - independence arrived in September 1964, together with a defence and financial package valid for ten years. For the first time after a long history of foreign occupation, Malta joined the international community as a sovereign State.

Proclamation of the Republic of Malta in 1974

Following the return of the Labour Party to government in 1971, significant changes ensued in internal and foreign policy, the former tending towards a more centralised regulation of the market, whereas the latter shifted from a pro-Western posture to neutrality and non-alignment. The 1964 Anglo-Maltese treaties were renegotiated and extended to 1979. In constitutional terms, the most significant change occurred in 1974 when, by a two-thirds majority in parliament after a free vote, amendments were made to the Independence  Constitution changing Malta's status from that of a Constitutional Monarchy to that of a Republic. Thus, instead of a Governor-General, Malta would have its first President. Other relatively minor constitutional amendments were also enacted.

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Comment by Daniele on December 4, 2011 at 13:31

Hugo you're totally right :)

Comment by Hugo Vieira on December 4, 2011 at 13:28

After the 2015 issue, many maltese dealers (and employees of central Bank) will early retire with lots of money on their bank accounts...

Comment by Karel von Stuka on December 4, 2011 at 13:08

Can't wait for 2014!

Comment by euroHOBBY on December 4, 2011 at 11:43

i hope that the above article helps you understand better this coin series

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