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News • February 8 2004

John Dalli

Born: 5 October 1948, Qormi
Status: Married with two children
Profession: Accountant
Electoral base: Sixth district
Political career: Entered politics in the early seventies. He served in the Youth Movement and National Executive of the Nationalist Party. He was elected in Parliament in 1987, 1992, 1996, 1998 and 2003.
1987 - 1990 Parliamentary Secretary for Industry
1990 - 1992 Minister of Economic Affairs
1992 - 1996 Minister of Finance
1996 - 1998 Shadow Minister of Finance and Chairman of the Public Accounts
1998 - 2003 Minister of Finance
2003 Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs

John Dalli represents the liberal and reformist faction of the Nationalist Party; ideologically in the centre he is more inclined towards the liberal side of the Christian Democrat line.
Party veterans liken him to seventies stalwart Mario Felice, a slick talker and competent finance spokesperson under Borg Olivier. Felice had also been tipped as Borg Olivier’s possible successor only to call it quits and abandon the political scene altogether after the 1981 election. Now, Felice has gone on record supporting John Dalli’s bid for leadership.
Dalli’s ambition for the top post was first announced three years ago. Since then, his campaign team has worked silently among party councillors to widen the circle of influence. Dalli seems to be well-placed for the contest commanding enough party councillors to give others a good run for their money even though the 66 per cent threshold is still elusive.
The image-building exercise has sought to exalt Dalli’s main quality, that of being a decisive person, as the single most important quality for the choice of leadership. The exercise seems to have borne some fruit, conditioning rival contender Lawrence Gonzi to try and portray himself as one who can take tough decisions in a recent interview with The Times.
However, change seems to be a genetic trait in the Dalli family. John’s brother, Fr George Dalli former parish priest at Ibragg had also tried to rock the Church by introducing an innovative approach towards mass while at the helm at Ibragg.
Furthermore, the Finance Minister may not be loved for having increased taxation over the past few years but it is to his credit that tax collection has become more efficient.
It still has to be seen whether PN councillors will shed their traditional inclination to opt for a ‘safe’ pair of hands, careful not to rock the boat and opt for the change-inclined John Dalli.

Newsworks Ltd, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann SGN 02, Malta