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Title: The 1921 Self-Government Constitution
Other Titles: Landmarks in Maltese Constitutional History 1849-1974
Authors: Pirotta, Joseph
Keywords: Malta -- Politics and government -- 20th century
Elections -- Malta -- History -- 20th century
Political parties -- Malta -- History -- 20th century
Constitutions -- Malta -- History -- 20th century
Issue Date: 2012
Publisher: Central Bank of Malta
Citation: Pirotta, J. M. (2012). The 1921 Self-Government Constitution. In H. Frendo (Ed.), Landmarks in Maltese Constitutional History 1849-1974 (pp. 33-40). Valletta : Central Bank of Malta.
Abstract: The grant of the 1921 constitution was part-fulfilment of a quest that had spanned more than a century. It was the result of sustained pressure by the Maltese political elite that had always aspired to local autonomy. The question is, why 121 years? And was this something that in fact had been anticipated by the Maltese? The fact that such a prolonged struggle ensued is evidence of an initial and a rather naive Maltese trust in Britain's willingness to enter into a partnership under which they would gain British protection, administer their own affairs while Britain gained a Mediterranean fortress that would eventually become a great commercial depot. This is what they promised. The Maltese had sought and thought that they had secured the blessings of a benevolent paternalism only to discover that they had entrusted themselves to a form of benign despotism. They had failed to take into account two main things: Britain's determination to retain a free hand in the running of the fortress, this was axiomatic as far as they were concerned. If this was a fortress, we call the shots. We cannot have a civilian government interfering. And secondly, official British contempt regarding Maltese political and administrative abilities. The royal commission of 1812 actually put this on paper. It said that there was no people on earth so unfitting to hold any sort of political power and it would therefore be in the Maltese best interest to ensure that they had no such political responsibility. Of course Imperialists were always known for the great care they took of the well-being of colonialized people! The British kept the politicians at arm's length, claiming that they only represented themselves, and cultivated the loyalty of the population by maintaining excellent relations with the Church, whose influence over the people they well understood. The persistence, however, of Maltese politicians was still there, but it was met by grudging minor constitutional concessions: in 1835, a consultative Council of Government; in 1849, limited representation; in 1864, a certain control on fiscal matters of purely local affairs; in 1887, majority representation with limited responsibility.
ISBN: 9789990997569
Appears in Collections:Landmarks in Maltese constitutional history : 1849-1974

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