The Malta Independent 20 January 2022, Thursday

Will he or won’t he call an election?

Sunday, 30 April 2017, 08:00 Last update: about 6 years ago

There’s no doubt that the country has moved into election mode and the big question on everyone’s mind is whether the Prime Minister will be calling an early election tomorrow in his 1st May address in Valletta.

Three Sundays ago, The Malta Independent on Sunday quoted government sources as saying that a snap election before the end of summer could be on the cards. The Egrant allegations had not yet fully surfaced back then but it was clear that the Prime Minister was building up the momentum that we are so used to before an election is called.

The revelations that followed in the Pilatus Bank leaks and the magisterial inquiry in which the Prime Minister himself is under investigation continued to push the country into early election mode, with many thinking that a snap election will end this crisis.

Speaking with The Malta Independent on Sunday, former Prime Ministers Lawrence Gonzi and Alfred Sant, who both had to call snap elections after losing votes in Parliament, gave their view on the situation.

Dr Gonzi, who was far more willing to speak his mind than Dr Sant, said, “These are not normal circumstances.” He said that under normal circumstances there would be no reason to call an early election. However, he cautioned that these are not normal circumstances and “something, therefore, needs to be done, but this does not necessarily mean an early election”.

On his part, Dr Sant said that as he does “not have all the information, perspectives and assessments that the Prime Minister would possess about the current situation, I cannot have a meaningful opinion regarding what the Prime Minister should do about calling an election ASAP”.

Other personalities from different fields gave The Malta Independent on Sunday their assessments of what they believe the Prime Minister should or should not do.

So what will the Prime Minister do? Will he call it or will he not?

 

He will

One of the main reasons why Dr Muscat might call an early election tomorrow is the uncertainty that has gripped the country with the risk that economic activity grinds to a halt. Business is suffering with major investors holding their breath to see if the wait will last until November or, even worse, March 2018 as announced by the Prime Minister earlier this year. Families are holding back on significant retail purchases until it is clear when the election will take place. The country is in a state of suspended animation awaiting the next revelation to emerge from the Egrant/Pilatus crisis which has the Prime Minister and his wife at the centre of it all.

 

He won’t

The Prime Minster might not call an early election tomorrow because if he does he would be the first Prime Minister to go for an election while he is under investigation. The Prime Minster may opt to wait for the magisterial inquiry to be concluded and, depending on its outcome, call an election with a clean bill of health. Should the inquiry determine that Egrant is effectively his and his spouse’s, he would resign and give time to his successor to call the election in due course.

 

He will

The Prime Minister might call an early election tomorrow irrespective of the magisterial inquiry in which he is under investigation because he has played all his trump cards. He has a budgetary surplus, something of a novelty given our recent economic performance. He closed the Marsa Power Station and opened the new ElectroGas facility, albeit two years later than promised. Unemployment is at a record low and he has just presided over an agreement on a minimum wage rise. Should he wait to call an election, these deliverables might very well have fizzled out by November.

 

He won’t

The feel good factor potential of calling an election just after new budget measures are announced cannot be discarded. The government cannot be seen calling an election too soon before it’s time up to go to the polls. Now that it has a surplus, the government can put forward a budget for 2018 that will stun people to the point that it gives them good reason to retain the present administration for another five years.

 

He will

While he may have dented his trust ratings in the polls due to the current crisis, the Prime Minister still enjoys a lead over Simon Busuttil. He will surely want to strengthen that lead before the PN leader takes the lead himself. An election campaign will give him the best platform to consolidate his achievements and use his power of incumbency.

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