2011: Year in Review

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The most prominent events in 2011 are gathered through a brief outline on this page and subsequent links to related sections.


2011 was full of news that impacted the lives of the Maltese in some way or another. The divorce referendum, the uprising in Libya, the crisis in the Eurozone and the launch of the new public transport service by Arriva can be listed as the most important news that touched most Maltese in some way or another.

Divorce Referendum

The divorce referendum [1] held on the 28th May was a turning point in Maltese social and political history as a cross-party coalition led by PN backbencher Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando managed to secure an unexpected win for the ‘YES’ vote in the referendum,[2] given that the Partit Nazzjonalista in Government [3] and the Catholic Church [4] took a stance against the introduction of divorce.

The result did not mean the issue was over. Parliament ratified the bill on 25 July,[5] but this caused an uproar as the Prime Minister and Leader of the Partit Nazzjonalista, Dr Lawrence Gonzi, voted against the bill together with most of the government MPs. Almost all Labour Opposition MPs voted in favour. There were several calls in the media for the MPs voting against to resign as their vote did not respect the will of the majority as expressed in the referendum.

The first divorces were granted in October.[6]

New Public Transport System

The new public transport system for Malta by international provider Arriva was launched in the beginning of July and it started on the wrong footing. Commuters started complaining about the services, especially buses not running on time, buses not running at all, and some of the new routes that did not cater for their needs.

Things came to a head in Parliament when a motion of no confidence in the Transport Minister Austin Gatt presented by the Opposition was discussed on Friday 4 November. Government backbencher Franco Debono abstained in protest as he insisted the Minister Gatt should be held politically accountable. The motion was only defeated by the casting vote of the Speaker. Prime Minister Gonzi later launched a task force to tackle the public transport problem, but Minister Gatt was not invited to form part of it. Statistics published by government say things have improved and patronage increased.

The Uprising in Libya

The uprising and toppling of Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi was one of the main international events that affected Malta directly. Malta had a long-stranding diplomatic and commercial relationship with Gadhafi and Prime Minister Gonzi had met him just a few days before the uprising began in February. Several Maltese companies conduct business in Libya.

Malta served as base for the evacuation of foreign nationals from Libya and when a United Nations resolution allowed NATO to intervene militarily, Malta remained neutral. However it sent medical aid to the besieged Libyan city of Misrata, received the injured and allowed NATO planes in distress to land.

Malta’s role was recognised by the Libyan National Transitional Council and Prime Minister Gonzi visited Libya in November. Malta was also publicly thanked for her humanitarian role by Western countries like the United States.

Gadhafi was killed in October, effectively ending the uprising.

Eurozone Crisis

The crisis in the Eurozone was of concern for most of the year as Malta adopted the euro in 2008 and is one the smallest Eurozone members.

In October Parliament approved the Amendment to the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) and authorised the government to issue loans to Greece.

The Budget 2012 speech, presented on 14 November, reflected the seriousness of the crisis in Europe.

Both the Government and the Opposition said Malta will abide by the new financial governance rules agreed at an EU summit in Brussels in December.

This page has day by day Malta news updates featuring the most prominent news item of the day as featured on the MaltaMedia Online News service during 2011. Links indicating VIDEO contain a news clip in Maltese, as it appeared on television that day on Favourite Channel.


See also

  • ... - 2011 Music Review by Michael Bugeja (Sunday ?? December 2011 - The Sunday Times of Malta)


M3P remembers a number of people who passed away during 2011. Their lives made a significant impact on the Maltese way of life. A list of departed personalities with connections to Maltese culture (in the broadest sense of the word) can be found here.