Alfred Sant : biography
Alfred Sant (born 28 February 1948) is a Maltese politician. He led the Labour Party from 1992 to 2008 and served as Prime Minister of Malta between 1996 and 1998 and as Leader of the Opposition from 1992 to 1996 and from 1998 to 2008.
Sant’s first political post with the Labour Party was as chairman of its Department of Information (1982–92). During this time he also served as President of the Party (1984–88). He served a stint as the editor of the Party weekly Il-Ħelsien (1987–88). Sant first stood for election in 1987; although he was unsuccessful, he was co-opted to Parliament later that year. In 1992, following the resignation of Carmelo Bonnici, he was elected as Party leader.
22-month government (1996-98)
The Labour Party (PL) won the October 1996 elections under Sant who successfully campaigned for the removal of the Value Added Tax (VAT) that had been introduced in 1995. A year after taking office the PL under Sant replaced VAT by a similar indirect tax, the Customs and Excise Tax (CET). Sant’s tenure as Prime Minister lasted only 22 months. Enjoying only a one-seat majority the Government was vulnerable to threats from former Prime Minister and Labour leader Dom Mintoff. Things came to a head in the summer of 1998 when a row with Mintoff over a coastal concession to a private company resulted in Government being defeated over the motion transferring the land. Sant felt that, in the circumstances, the government’s parliamentary majority was compromised and asked the President to dissolve the House. In the subsequent elections held in September 1998 the Labour Party was defeated and returned into opposition.
2003 Referendum and election
Sant campaigned heavily against Malta’s European Union membership. During the run-up to the March 2003 referendum, Sant was also critical of what he called a "sham referendum" insisting that a general election alone would settle the EU membership issue. He called on Labour supporters to either vote No, abstain or invalidate their vote. He himself abstained. The Yes side won the referendum by a 54% to 46% margin but Sant claimed to have won the referendum as the Yes vote was less than half of registered voters. In view of the lack of consensus on the interpretation of the result, Prime Minister Eddie Fenech Adami asked the President to dissolve Parliament and call fresh elections. These were held in April 2003 and the Labour Party was again defeated at the polls.
Sant tendered his resignation as party leader. He did, however, stand for election for Party leader again which was contested by two other candidates for the post, John Attard Montalto and Angelo Farrugia. Sant was re-elected party leader with 66% of votes cast by Labour Party delegates and returned to lead the Party.
2008 general election
The Labour Party, spearheaded by Sant, presented a new programme Pjan għal bidu ġdid (Plan for a new beginning) and called for Bżonn ta’ Bidla (The need for a Change) after the 20 years (save for his brief stint from 1996 to 1998) of Nationalist government. The electoral-programme contained references to overhauls in the educational system (which proved to be extremely controversial), reduction of an electricity surcharge by half and tax holidays on overtime work.
Sant was defeated for the third consecutive time, this time by Lawrence Gonzi (Partit Nazzjonalista) in the 2008 general election. This election was lost by the PL on a slim margin of 1580 votes. Following the loss of the election, Sant resigned as leader of the Labour Party on 10 March 2008, and as Leader of the Opposition on 5 June 2008; he was succeeded as PL leader by Joseph Muscat and as Leader of the Opposition by Charles Mangion. Sant retained his Parliamentary seat.
2014 European Parliament election
Sant has announced that he will be standing as a Labour Party candidate in the 2014 European Parliament election.http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20121122/local/alfred-sant-to-contest-mep-elections.446476