It is possibly the worst decision the Prime Minister could have made, to call an election a year early, when the country is in the midst of an institutional crisis.

He says people have told him that business is slowing down, something he attributes to “irresponsible claims” made against him. He wants to stop what he calls the “coalition of instability” from endangering jobs, slowing down the economy and destabilising the country. But they are not destabilising the country, they are destabilising him. He is the problem. That is why he should have stepped aside and put the country first.

When Joseph Muscat instigated a magisterial inquiry that effectively investigates him, among others, his position became untenable. He said he had nothing to fear from the inquiry, claiming innocence, and that the inquiry was not one of the considerations he took into account when coming to his decision to call a snap election.

But what started off as an inquiry to look into allegations that the Prime Minister’s wife was the beneficiary of the elusive Panama company Egrant has become compounded by fresh allegations involving his chief of staff, Keith Schembri, with claims of graft and passport sales. Then a ‘whistleblower’ stepped forward, a former employee of Pilatus Bank, which is at the centre of the Egrant saga. And, yet, the Prime Minister ignores all this and says his main concern is stability and economic growth.That makes the election a recipe for disaster.

Surely, the Prime Minister consulted opinion polls and found them favourable enough to go for an election. They are findings based on the thinking of an electorate that does not know what to think, or what to believe, of the incredible allegations being made. These people are now expected to vote. They cannot do that in an informed way.

Dr Muscat wants to go to the polls in the hope the electorate will endorse his administration, with its successes and failures, and start again like nothing ever happened. That will not be the case.

Dr Muscat wants to go to the polls in the hope the electorate will endorse his administration, with its successes and failures, and start again like nothing ever happened. That will not be the case. The popular vote cannot substitute the course of justice. What was wrong will remain wrong. There are obviously two possible scenarios. The first is a Nationalist Party victory, in coalition with the Democratic Party.

PN leader Simon Busuttil promises to launch an inquiry on his first day in office. He also wants a constitutional reform, to strengthen the country’s institutions and make them “Labour-proof”. His focus will be on good governance and, should there be a coalition in Parliament, that would help him keep his eye on the ball.

Naturally, coalitions can fall apart and the country would be taking that risk and hopefully learn to live with it.

The second scenario is a Labour victory. The temptation then would be to think that the electorate has endorsed Dr Muscat’s performance and all is forgiven. He will probably claim he has learnt from past mistakes - he does that often - and will try to do better.

His plan would possibly be to stay on for two or three years and then make way for a successor. He would retire undefeated and the Labour Party’s hope would be that he would take all the sins away with him, strengthening their chances at the next election.

An ideal scenario, but there is a flaw. The magisterial inquiry will not go away, nor will the immensely serious allegations made. A negative outcome from the inquiry would mean the new government would be weakened very early in its legislature. That would create more instability than there is now.

It would be back to 1981, when the very legitimacy of the government was in question and the crisis lasted the whole legislature. This time there would be a popular vote for the government to fall back upon. But the decision of an uninformed electorate would be questioned.

If the inquiring magistrate finds no solid proof at law to sustain the ‘packet’ of allegations made, serious doubts will still loom over the ‘new’ administration, especially if the ‘main actors’ remain, because, in the court of politics, reasonable doubt works in favour of the law-abiding people not the accused politicians/political appointees.

Dr Muscat, had one real option to take, to step aside, but he did not. Now the country will have to face the consequences of that decision. We can only hope the electorate will be wiser.

Sign up to our free newsletters

Get the best updates straight to your inbox:
Please select at least one mailing list.

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By subscribing, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing.