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Time to bite the bullet

Life is full of choices, decisions which, whether we like it or not, we have to make every day. In times like these, with both major parties in full election mode without an election date having yet been fixed, I feel imposed upon.

People are starting to reason out that Parliament as such may not be so vital to our lives after all
- Kenneth Zammit Tabona

Electioneering tactics are not conducive to normal life carrying on business as usual. In countries like ours, where the percentage of voters is in the 90s, elections and their results disrupt normal life, people tend to put things on hold long before and find it impossible to make plans.

Therefore, if the Prime Minister holds his electoral cards to his chest any longer this country is going to grind to a halt and all the economic scorings that Lawrence Gonzi claims to have made, quite justly, in the recent past, will, in the twinkle of an eye, be nullified. I am not joking. Just follow the way we seem to pop in and out of recessional mode and think again.

Great histrionic speeches worthy of Cicero and Demosthenes rolled into one were declaimed from the podium on the Granaries in Floriana last week.

Speeches designed to rouse the faithful and galvanise the undecided and the indifferent into electoral euphoria make me suspect that it will not be long before the Prime Minister sets a date.

We now can conclude that it is not going to be November as we have been told that the Government is working on the next Budget despite the fact there are two serious impediments: Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando, the independent MP who in effect is calling the shots instead of the Prime Minister, and, of course, lest we forget all about him, Franco Debono, whose vote will keep us guessing till the last minute.

Both gentlemen have very serious choices to make. Should they cut off their noses to spite their faces to get their own back on Dr Gonzi and vote against the Budget? Or should their sense of honour prevail? I wonder.

This procrastination, this negating the existence of the inevitable is taking its toll. People are starting to reason out that Parliament as such may not be so vital to our lives after all for if Malta can go on functioning, as did Belgium, without a Parliament, then we may as well get our technocrats in the civil service to run Malta without the trauma of elections and all the sturm und drang that they entail.

I have never known of an election that was not fraught and horrendously stressful. I always live in hope that there will come a time when, whoever won the election, life would go on as usual. But, no, we have to choose between two parties which, although ideologically ridiculously close, have a core of radically disparate supporters that translates into the upsetting of too many apple carts should the driver change.

Dr Gonzi said it loud and clear. We are between Scylla and Charybdis. We cannot invalidate our vote or not vote as that would still translate into a vote for the Labour Party. So then where is my hard-won democratic right?

Now, we will soon hear that a vote for another party like Alternattiva Demokratika will also translate into a vote for the PL, which is even worse!

We therefore have no other choice than to choose between the PL and the Nationalist Party. That is not democratic. If I want to vote for AD my choice should stop there. If I want to not vote there is the end to it. But, no, my vote, unless it is specifically for either party, has ramifications. Changing one’s political allegiance in Malta is like changing one’s religion... in fact worse; it’s like changing one’s football team! How more ridiculous can we be?

In life, what goes around comes around and everything and everybody has their sell by date. After being in government since 1987 with the 22-month blip in between, the PN has become the party that claims that is the party of kaizen, meaning constant renewal and, ergo, according to the PN, a change in government is unnecessary and tantamount to frivolity.

The PL has, in the past four and a half years, pulled out all the stops to convince the electorate that it is a renewed and rejuvenated party with fresh ideas and new ways of doing things.

The outcome of the next election will be determined by the extent that Joseph Muscat can convince the electorate that nobody is to fear a Labour Government taking over.

This, of course, is why the PN constantly rakes up the past, now remote, to forever brand and rebrand the PL as the unchangeable political bogeymen.

We are in for yet another rough ride as the two leaders fight it out like two champion tennis players at Wimbledon in a match that will go on for far too long to be enjoyable or fun.

The fact that we do not know when D-day is makes it all that much worse. I do not see what good this uncertainty is doing to the country.

Bite the bullet, Dr Gonzi, and let us know when we have to make our democratic choices so that we can get on with our lives.

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