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Budget vote is make or break, says Gonzi

PM will call for an election if Parliament rejects proposals

Lawrence Gonzi said his government would immediately resign if the Budget is not approved. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Lawrence Gonzi said his government would immediately resign if the Budget is not approved. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

The general election could be called in the next few days if the Government fails to obtain parliamentary approval of this evening’s Budget.

Speaking to The Times yesterday, Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi said if the Budget was defeated in the crucial December 10 vote, his government would immediately resign and call an election.

“The vote on the Budget is make or break,” Dr Gonzi said.

“If the Budget is not approved, I will have no problem asking the President to call an election and let the people decide who they want to govern in the coming five years,” he said.

The Budget vote will immediately follow a much-anticipated address to the House of Representatives by the Prime Minister in reply to the Leader of the Opposition’s speech on December 5.

According to the Constitution, general elections have to be held within three months of the dissolution of Parliament, making March 9 the last Saturday upon which a general election can be held.

The date has already been slotted for the next round of local council elections and various observers are setting their eyes on this date as the most likely one for the general election.

Nationalist MP Franco Debono has said he will vote against the Government in the Budget if Minister Austin Gatt – who will not be contesting the next election – is still in Cabinet. The governing PN has a one-seat majority.

Defeat in Parliament on December 10 would mark the first time a Nationalist administration has been be forced to resign.

In 1998, Labour, with a one-seat majority under Prime Minister Alfred Sant, was forced to call an early election after just 22 months in power when ex-leader Dom Mintoff decided to vote against his Government on a vote of confidence.

Budget 2013 on timesofmalta.com

Budget 2013 will be streamed live on timesofmalta.com this evening as part of the extensive coverage on the last Budget of this Administration.

Visit timesofmalta.com to follow a live blog as the Budget speech unfolds and short stories explaining the measures read out by the Finance Minister.

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