Gonzi, prime minister who weathered financial crisis and political rebellion, leaves House today

Last dig to Joseph Muscat on migration: diplomacy, not grandstanding ‘or stamping of one’s feet’ is way forward

Lawrence Gonzi said that punching above our weight
Lawrence Gonzi said that punching above our weight "is a feature of Maltese history".

Today marks the last day in parliament for Lawrence Gonzi, prime minister from 2004 to 2013, who leaves the House after standing down as Nationalist party leader following the general election of 9 March 2013.

Gonzi, elected to the PN leadership in 2004, served as Speaker of the House of Representatives from 1988 to 1996 and Minister for Social Policy from 1998 to 2004, as well as Deputy Prime Minister from 1999 to 2004.

In 1987 he stood as a PN candidate but was not elected. Gonzi contested the October 1996 elections and was elected to parliament and served as Opposition party whip and PN Secretary-General in 1997.

In 2004 he succeeded Eddie Fenech Adami as Prime Minister, serving as premier when Malta became a European Union member.

In a column he penned today for The Times, Gonzi outlined the highlights of the past nine years, specifically referring to the handling of the Libya crisis, weathering the financial storm and keeping youth unemployment down, garnering €2.4 billion in EU funds from 2007 onwards, and clinching a voluntary burden-sharing agreement on migration.

"Notwithstanding the major progress on burden sharing over the past seven years, on the change of government we had not yet succeeded in seeing the introduction of an effective EU refugee relocation system but it will come.

"When we started this uphill discussion we were on our own but this is no longer the case. This matter, however, needs a unanimous agreement of the now 28 member states and that requires hard work, not grandstanding or the stamping of one's feet," Gonzi said in a dig at Prime Minister Joseph Muscat's attempt at pushing back some 50 asylum seekers to Libya in a bid to demand EU assistance on migration.

Gonzi, who voted against the introduction of a divorce law after a popular referendum had approved it, also paid tribute to the country's Christian-inspired values.

"Our success as a country has not happened by coincidence. It happened because over the years we have always been guided by a set of values that are of Christian inspiration and are universally accepted even by non-believers: respect for the dignity of every human being in all circumstances; respect for human life, even when still a foetus in the mother's womb; treasuring the family as a social unit that needs constant nurturing; respect for minorities independently of their abilities or disabilities and a host of other fundamental freedoms including those that were severely tested in the 1970s and early 1980s and that motivated me to enter politics."

A lawyer by profession and an accomplished orator, Gonzi's devout Catholicism was buttressed by his past as president of Catholic Action. His second term (2008-2013) was dominated by rebellion from his backbench, when he was returned to power with a one-seat majority.

In 2012, he lost his majority but managed to keep his party in government right until a budget vote in December 2012, when Nationalist MP Franco Debono joined the Opposition in voting against the budget, bringing down the government.

Gonzi presided over the biggest electoral defeat for the Nationalist Party, losing by over 35,000 votes in March 2013.

His admirers praise his handling of the Libya crisis and his economic policies as two of his career landmarks. But his detractors criticise him for his insensitivity on the increase in utility tariffs and his lack of resolve in confronting dissident backbenchers Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando, Franco Debono and Jesmond Mugliett.

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Emmanuel Mallia
Had he hard headed dictatorship values ? Did he treat the member of his party the same ? Did he use diplomacy to hide Malta's real economic problems ?
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Good riddance to bad rubbish.
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I wish Dr Gonzi the best of luck for his future. As for his political accomplishments I think they were a complete flop. He successfully managed to divide his party into many factions; divide Malta into 'them and us'; he managed to make the sahhara famous more than him; he left us a legacy of 5 euros of billion debt, 10 deficits; one worse than an other; the scandal at EneMalta, the scandal at BWSC; the scandal at Arriva;he left AirMalta on its knees, EneMalta bankrupt; signed the famous Dublin 2 which practically made Malta a 'parking lot' for immigrants wanting to go to Europe: and the worst of all flops made Simon Busutill as a 'fresh'leader which condemns SimonPN 10 years in opposition! I only thank him for the last 'achievment'!
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I wish Dr Gonzi the best of luck for his future. As for his political accomplishments I think they were a complete flop. He successfully managed to divide his party into many factions; divide Malta into 'them and us'; he managed to make the sahhara famous more than him; he left us a legacy of 5 euros of billion debt, 10 deficits; one worse than an other; the scandal at EneMalta, the scandal at BWSC; the scandal at Arriva;he left AirMalta on its knees, EneMalta bankrupt; signed the famous Dublin 2 which practically made Malta a 'parking lot' for immigrants wanting to go to Europe: and the worst of all flops made Simon Busutill as a 'fresh'leader which condemns SimonPN 10 years in opposition! I only thank him for the last 'achievment'!
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gonzi did not act on his christian beliefs when dealing with persons who did not agree with him. i was one of his victims
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This evening he will deliver his last speech in parliament. I am sure there will be a number of speakers form both sides of the house who will sing prises to him. I for one will acknowledge the good he made but I will remember him for the suffering endured under his government, especially for hanging on to power till the last day. He knew more than 2 years before the election that he had lost the majority. A number of PN officials admitted after the election that the opinion polls they held were showing that they lost heavily the popular support since a couple of years. He is a prime minister that should be an example of how not to govern and lead a country. Dr. Gonzi, you should have done this not today, but about 3 years ago. Both Malta and the PN would have been better places to be.
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You forgot to mention the political vindictive transfers, the €500 weekly, the hike in gas, fuel and water & electricity prices, the billions in debts and deficits, the corruption etc etc etc Thanks to all these. yesterday I wrote an even longer list but Malta today didn't publish it. I can see the reason why. Probably it like when a person dies, the little good is spoken about but the lot of bad is buried with him, which wasn't in the case of Iben il-Maghtuba.
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Does Christian-inspired values also mean turning a blind eye to corruption and letting certain Ministers act as if they answer to no one and do as they please? I voted you out and I'm proud to have done it. You will be remembered as a weak PM who was lead by others and failed to lead by example. Bye Bye!

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