- Christian Workers' Party
The Christian Workers' Party (CWP) was a political party in Malta. was founded in 1961 and its target was to contest the 1962 elections. It was founded by Toni Pellegrini who was the general secretary of the Malta Labour Party. Pellegrini fell out with Dom Mintoff during the 1961 politico-religious crisis, convinced that Mintoff was becoming a communist.
As a party, it was a direct answer to Dom Mintoff's dispute with the Catholic Church in Malta then led by Archbishop Michael Gonzi. It was designed to attract the Catholic vote of traditional Labourites who would not vote for Mintoff's Socialist MLP due to their religious beliefs, but would never vote for the Nationalist Party either. It was often cited to be a resurrection of the (Catholic) Labour Party founded in 1921 by Michael Gonzi himself, and sought to expound Catholic (leftist) social teaching. Its other aim was to lose Mintoff's party as many votes as possible, whilst still being a party loyal both to the Church and the Queen. Politically, it was a party which opposed independence, together with the other two pro-Church, pro-British, anti-independence parties, the DNP and the PCP.
Felicjan Bilocca was a capuchin priest who greatly helped to set up the CWP as a Catholic answer to Labour supporters. He was a sympathiser of the MLP, but being a priest, felt obliged to help create a party of like-minded labour-leaning supporters. He helped to field candidates and greatly organised the CWP.
The CWP contested the 1962 elections under a manifesto promising "Work for all first and foremost". It contested under the "umbrella" of the Catholic Church. The 'umbrella' was a reference to the four parties which contested the 1962 elections - the Nationalist Party, the Christian Workers' Party, the Democratic Nationalist Party and the Progressive Constitutional Party, and which had the approval of the Maltese Catholic Church. Therefore, the CWP was both a left/social workers' party and a Catholic one.
Pellegrini's party managed to obtain four seats out of fifty (a very good result back then), and ten percent of the votes. Five parties were elected in the 1962 legislature. The Nationalists gained 25 seats, the MLP gained 16, the CWP gained 4, the DNP 4 as well and Mabel Strickland's PCP gained a seat. In all, the 'umbrella' carried 34 seats out of 50. The Nationalists hailed this as a great victory, but the Catholic Church considered this as a defeat since 36 percent still voted for the MLP under pain of interdiction.
During the course of the legislature, independence was gained in 1964, however soon after the CWP lost a member of the Party - Daniel Micallef resigned from politics, disappointed at the fact that Pellegrini negotiated Independence with a pro-British rather than a pro-Maltese agenda, even though the party's manifesto stated that the CWP was against independence.
Even though peace with the Church and the MLP was not to be until 1969, the interdict had been lifted in 1964. As a direct result of this, Mintoff Increased his party's share of votes at the expense of the CWP. The 1966 election results were catastrophic for the CWP, losing four percentage votes (down to 6%) and failing to elect a single candidate. In fact, the three "small parties" which were elected to parliament in 1962, failed to elect any candidates in the 1966 elections. The CWP's failure during the 1966 elections signalled the end of the party as a Labour alternative to Mintoff's MLP.
The party eventually dissolved after it became clear that Mintoff's movement was growing stronger by the day. Eventually, after the last stumbling-block was overcome in 1969 and Mintoff made peace with the Church, the MLP went on to win a comfortable victory in 1971. Toni Pellegrini was re-admitted into the MLP and became a director of Malta's Television, then known as Xandir Malta.
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