The country in a political quandary
When libel suits start flying in all directions and political tension rises, it is normally a sure sign that an election is round the corner. That is what the Labour Party, now sinking in a morass of gutter politics, would like to think. With polls showing it is way ahead of the Nationalist Party, it is now raring to get to back into administration after so many years on the opposition benches.
The Nationalists, on the other hand, shattered by internal turmoil and dissent, would naturally want to prolong the life of this legislature for as long as it is possible in an effort to get their act together in the hope of at least narrowing the gap between it and their opponents. Even if the PN were to stay in power up to the very last minute, it is doubtful now whether it has enough time to reorganise itself in a manner that could make the electorate forget what has happened and give it yet another term in power.
In a way, it would be better if it were to spend time in opposition. The problem for the country is that it has, as yet, no credible alternative government that would be able to take the Nationalists’ place.
At least , all the indications given so far by the new team running the PL, now supposedly metamorphosed into a movement, are not such as to inspire much faith and confidence in it. Probably, the younger people are wiser than the rest in all the other age groups; they have already discerned that Labour is not for them.
Malta right now is, therefore, in a quandary: the ruling PN appears far too internally distracted as yet to provide a strong opposition to Labour. It has lost its one-seat majority in Parliament and will only be able to continue governing on the strength of the promise made by Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando that he would collaborate with the government so long as it sticks to matters laid down in the 2008 electoral programme. He also expects to be consulted on other matters.
The problem for the Prime Minister is compounded by the fact that, besides Dr Pullicino Orlando, there are two others who may decide to upset the applecart for the Nationalists: Franco Debono, who, like the PL, has debased politics through his antics, and Jesmond Mugliett. The problem is, therefore, threefold but Lawrence Gonzi prefers to continue burying his head in the sand, pretending that there is hardly any problem once Dr Pullicino Orlando has now promised that he would collaborate with his government.
There can hardly be a situation as messy as this. And, yet, Dr Gonzi says his government has not only the right but also the duty to govern. Yes, but at what cost? The country’s economic life may not stop in the time that the situation remains as politically fluid as it is now but , as the party has said in times of political uncertainty before, indecision can damage the economy and would, therefore, negate the very same reason for which Dr Gonzi wants to delay the calling of the election.
Whether the projects now in the pipeline will be ready or not before election time makes no difference to the prospects of the PN. The Prime Minister needs to stop resorting to rhetoric. He ought to call an election now so that the country can concentrate on matters that really matter for the people’s well-being.