[WATCH] Alfred Sant will not contest next European Parliament election

On Reno Bugeja Jistaqsi, former Labour prime minister and MEP Alfred Sant reflects on his memoirs from the period between 1975 and 1992

Labour MEP and former prime minister Alfred Sant
Labour MEP and former prime minister Alfred Sant
Alfred Sant will not contest next European Parliament election

Alfred Sant will not be contesting the next European Parliament election, the former prime minister has confirmed.

“Of course not,” he replied emphatically when asked by veteran journalist Reno Bugeja whether he will be a candidate in the European election due in 2024.

Sant was interviewed on Reno Bugeja Jistaqsi, broadcast on MaltaToday’s Facebook page.

When it was pointed out that as an MEP his press statements are not released through the Labour Party and his presence on the party media was almost non-existent, Sant said those were the signs of “someone who is slowly exiting the room”.

Sant relinquished the post of Labour leader in 2008 and went on to successfully contest the European Parliament election in 2014 and 2019.

The MEP has just released his memoirs - Confessions of a European Maltese, The Middle Years - covering the period between 1975 and 1992. The book served as the background for the interview.

Sant said the biggest problem the Labour government of the 1980s had was the violent elements within it that were not reigned in. For part of that period, Sant occupied the post of party president.

However, he insisted that he could not subscribe to the “Nationalist narrative” that violence only pertained to Labour.

“Both sides did not reach an agreement to reign in the violent elements… the bombs outside the houses of Labour politicians and targeting State institutions… I have no proof, but I cannot imagine someone from Labour planting them,” Sant said.

Alfred Sant interviewed by Reno Bugeja
Alfred Sant interviewed by Reno Bugeja

Sant gave his predecessor Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici a positive, if controversial, review for his stint as prime minister between 1984 and 1987.

“Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici inherited a government facing big economic, political and constitutional problems, compounded by the private and church schools issue… in all this he helped pacify the situation, even if it boiled over with the murder of Raymond Caruana,” Sant said.

He said the church schools’ controversy was unnecessary and a particular belief that was not discussed enough could have been to allow paid church schools functioning alongside a free public school system that would be top-notch.

Sant said Mintoff had achieved his aim of ending the dependence on the British military base and create a legacy of neutrality but after 1979 his politics went “stale”. “It no longer satisfied the needs of the society that he helped shape,” he said.

Asked about Joseph Muscat and Robert Abela, the Labour MEP said that despite the mistakes, Muscat did a lot of good.

“He rode the wave of an economy that was doing well, even if based on things that one has to be careful of because they can sink you. He also ensured social justice by seeing that the wealth generated filtered down, something that previous Nationalist administrations under Fenech Adami and Gonzi did not do,” Sant said.

As for Prime Minister Robert Abela, he took over at a time of an unprecedented global crisis. “All I can say is keep it up,” Sant said.