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Enrico_Mizzi

Enrico Mizzi

Enrico Mizzi (20 September, 1885 - 20 December, 1950), known in Maltese as Nerik Mizzi, was a Maltese politician, leader of the Nationalist Party and Prime Minister of Malta for three months in 1950 when he died. He is the only Maltese Prime Minister to have died in office.

Personal life

Mizzi was born in Valletta on 20 September, 1885. He was educated at the Gozo Seminary, (Flores College), and in 1903 he started his studies in literature and science. In 1906 he started reading law at the Universities of Rome and Urbino.

Son of Fortunato Mizzi and Maria Sofia Fogliero de Luna, the founder of the Nationalist Party, Enrico Mizzi hardly practiced his legal profession, as he felt more drawn to the political and journalistic occupations. In November 1915, Nerik Mizzi, supported by the Comitato Patriottico, contested for the first time as a candidate for Gozo. He achieved a resounding success.

On the 7 May 1917 he was arrested at his residence. Although Italy was fighting World War I on the Allied side, Mizzi was arrested and court martialled for possession of seditious writings, according to the British authorities. Enrico Mizzi in those writings, at a time of Anglo-French rapprochement, expressed the opinion that there could be an Anglo-Italian pact whereby Malta would be an autonomous regional entity within Italy, with full access to its harbours and shipping facilities guaranteed to Britain (Frendo, 1979; Sammut, 2005). He was sentenced to a year's imprisonment, without hard labour, but Governor Methuen later changed his sentence of imprisonment to a serious warning.

Politics

During the first meeting of the National Assembly, which was held in the "Giovine Malta" (related to the "Giovine Italia" of Giuseppe Mazzini, Enrico Mizzi was nominated and elected, by unanimous vote, Secretary of the Assembly, and practically blamed for the mass anti-British riots of 1919 in which a number of Maltese demonstrators were shot dead or wounded by British troops (the Sette Giugno).

In 1921 Nerik Mizzi formed the Partito Democratico Nazionalista. In the election of the 1 November 1921, Mizzi's party elected four candidates in Gozo. After the 1924 elections, Mizzi's party formed a coalition government with the Unione Politica Maltese. Enrico Mizzi was appointed Minister for Agriculture and Posts. In 1926 the two parties, UPM and PDN, merged to reunite as the Partito Nazionalista with Nerik Mizzi as co-leader together with Sir Ugo Mifsud (d. 1942). Once Britain declared war on Germany in 1939, with Italy joining in on 10th June 1940, Malta was drawn into the conflict. In the Nationalist anti-anglicization tradition particularly after 1880, Enrico Mizzi had expressed a consistent call for retaining close ties with Italy, a Fascist state after 1922, but especially for the retention of the age-old italianita'- latinita' Mediterranean heritage of the Maltese Islands dating back to the later Middle Ages (Frendo, 1979), a position which made him a staunch opponent of British military despotism in the 'fortress colony' of Malta. Under strong Imperialist pressure led by the Anglo-Maltese Strickland family, as a precaution against a possible Italian invasion and the establishment of some puppet Fascist regime under Enrico Mizzi, a number of Italian sympathisers were arrested on suspicion of possible disloyalty to the British Crown, without charge or trial. On the 30 May 1940, while Mizzi was at the Malta Printing Press, he was arrested and interned in the Fortizza tas-Salvatur. In February 1942, Governor Dobbie issued a warrant for the deportation of 47 Maltese, amongst whom was Enrico Mizzi, who were exiled to Uganda. Together with the group of deportees he was repatriated from Uganda on 8 March 1945 and he immediately embarked on his political activity by attending the Council Sitting on the 15 March.

The Nationalist Party won the 1950 elections and Enrico Mizzi was appointed Prime Minister. He died at his residence, in Valletta, only three months later and received a state funeral. To date, he is the only Maltese prime minister to die in office.

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