If politicians do take one this year it may be their last summer holiday before the general election, as they could be electioneering next summer. There is an even chance the Prime Minister could make a dash for it in early autumn, 2007 should Malta be cleared for euro adoption by the EU in 11 months' time. It would be a gamble born of necessity.
The Nationalist Party's own polls, very loud whispers tell, estimate support for the government at below the pre-1996 level, when the Nationalists lost abysmally. Then, the sitting Prime Minister had called an early election following a report by his Finance Minister spelling out that the financial situation was a huge problem and could deteriorate.
The present PM is more confident about the current state of the public finances, but must be worried about rising prices, with the moving average up again in June. Much as he strives to explain the impact of the international price of oil on local energy and fuel costs, households and economic operators groan under the pressure. The feel-bad factor deepens.
The PM will hope that tweaking - such as through an agreement over the registration of medicines and the impact of one-off privatisation proceeds on the public debt - plus a decline in the debt/GDP ratio (helped, ironically, by higher current market prices) will enable Malta to pass the euro test next May/June. Nationalist Party spinners will then project the outcome as EU confirmation that Malta never had it so good, and beg the electorate not to let Labour spoil it.
They will adapt and flog the post-EU referendum tactic: Malta has been accepted in the eurozone, from January 1, 2008, to give Labour a majority could jeopardise that route. The PM will also calculate that if he calls the election after the EU clears Malta for euro adoption, by seeking a new mandate before adoption takes place he would avoid the electoral damage of any price rises due to the changeover.
The scenario is an incomplete sort of cleverness. Many people are fed up with the government over more than rising prices. The Nationalists have been in office too long. Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi may be full of beans, but his team has become bone-weary, jaded and arrogant.
The arrogance charge did not originate with the Opposition leader. Alfred Sant simply rubs salt into a deep wound opened from within the PN. The fact that the PM is determined not to axe ineffectual wood and bringing in new blood makes internal discontent grow deeper, the angry whispers louder. The ancient political message is out that it is time for all good men and women to come to the aid of the party.
It is not striking chords in terms of sober vigour by the government team, or of a return to the fold by persons who are not politically active but who in the past openly declared their Nationalist inclination.
Before the end of the summer, electioneering will intensify as the possibility of a September/October 2007 general election grows. Even as he weighs the gamble of forfeiting months of office and keeps the election teams on red alert, the PM will say it is early days, yet. He will hope there will come a fresh tide in political affairs which he can take at the flood to lead him on to fortune. He knows more than anyone else that the present tide is threatening misfortune.
Even if he does take a holiday this summer, that weight on his mind will go along with Dr Gonzi. Dr Sant will see to it...
To be continued