Election campaign ‘should wait until after Christmas’
‘Be careful choosing leaders of the island’
Whatever the outcome of the parliamentary vote on Budget 2013, political parties should agree to let the festive season pass and kick off the electoral campaign in the new year, Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi said yesterday.
He said the Government’s five-year legislature was drawing to a close and that an election “early next year” was “inevitable”.
However, he said, the festive season was an important time for all Maltese, so he appealed for the electoral campaign to start in January.
“Both parties can easily agree that if the Budget does not go through, they should let Christmas pass peacefully and start an electoral campaign in the beginning of the year, as was the case in 2008 when the election was held on March 8,” he said.
Speaking in a recorded interview on the party’s Radio 101, Dr Gonzi said that if the Budget did not go through, because of a possible vote against it by dissenting Nationalist backbencher Franco Debono,he would have to ask the President to dissolve Parliament.
“I honestly believe it is a good budget and I hope it will go through. But if it doesn’t, we’ll dissolve Parliament and go for an election,” he said.
The first and most important vote on the Budget will be held on December 10 after Dr Gonzi responds to Labour leader Joseph Muscat’s reply the previous week.
With the support of independent MP Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando and Nationalist backbencher Jesmond Mugliett secured, the Nationalist Party’s fate will depend solely on Dr Debono, who has already declared that he would vote against if Transport Minister Austin Gatt was still in the Cabinet.
The election can be held between five weeks and three months after Parliament is dissolved.
During the hour-long interview, Dr Gonzi spoke about his government’s achievements and insisted it was his party that was the agent of change in the country’s most import-ant historical successes.
“The choice people have is between a party that achieves results and a party that does not disclose any of its policies or plans and that is not explaining to us how it will achieve whatever it is promising,” he said.
“I am convinced that people will see that the PN brought about change, is bringing about change and will continue bringing about more change.
“We put our cards on the table. We showed where people will be taxed, how we are going to create more jobs and where our priorities are.”
On surveys showing the Labour Party is far ahead of the PN in popularity, Dr Gonzi said they showed a picture taken at a given time.
He criticised the PL for “taking over” the General Workers’ Union again, throwing the country back to the time when the two collaborated very closely.
He warned people, especially parents, to be careful of who they chose to lead the country for the next five years.
“Be very careful because five years is a long time. Can we afford to leave our children’s education in Labour’s hands? What guarantees do I have that a Labour government would invest in schools, in equipment?
“Our families, youths and workers can only have their minds at rest if the PN is in government. Joseph Muscat has a history of bad advice,” he said.
He acknowledged there were many people who were hurt because of difficult decisions this government had made, including the reform at Air Malta and at Malta Drydocks, but added that these were in the national interest.
Referring to MEP Simon Busuttil’s election as his deputy, Dr Gonzi said the party was reinvigorated following this election.