The Malta Independent 14 April 2024, Sunday
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Editorial: Reasons for a premature election

Tuesday, 2 May 2017, 09:22 Last update: about 8 years ago

Strange though it may seem, that the next general election is going to be held much before the natural end of the legislature began to be mentioned with insistence over the past weeks and days.

Various dates were mentioned – from Autumn then to July and then to June. In choosing 3 June as the date of the election, Dr Muscat chose the earliest date he could choose.

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It is the Prime Minister’s prerogative to choose the date for an election. In countries where there is no fixed date for an election, heads of government usually choose the date that is most suitable for them. This is what Theresa May has just done in the UK, for instance.

In the case of Malta, Dr Muscat yesterday proposed one reason for the premature election. He claimed that all this talk about an election has dragged the country and its economy to a halt. Obviously, he blamed the Opposition and said the country cannot afford to grind to a halt.

It is a known fact that whenever an election nears, all investment, plans for the future, etc grind to a halt. In the long agony of Lawrence Gonzi’s government in 2012 and 2013, for instance, the economy actually stopped for the better part of the year. In that case, maybe Dr Muscat was wiser than Dr Gonzi in taking the decision to go to the country rather than wait further.

But there may be other reasons which decided him. The polls, both those which were published and other polls we would know nothing about, showed that Labour still enjoys an advantage over the PN. But they also show that the PN is catching up fast, so much so that one version of the polls could be interpreted to say the two parties were within margin of error distance from each other. If that is the case, maybe Dr Muscat wanted to grasp the advantage before it dwindles away.

Other reasons are in the realm of speculation. Malta is a country where political speculation is a national pastime. Some have speculated there are more skeletons in Labour’s coffers which may come out in the coming weeks. Going to the polls would remove some fo the effectiveness of such scandals, the argument runs.

Others point out at the current Egrant case which is still being battled in the courts (though so near an election puts paid any frail hope of it nearing resolution) which may either prove Dr Muscat innocent or guilty.

Whatever the reasons for such a premature election that has surprised if not shocked the entire country (and the Labour grass roots in particular) this is now in the past. The decision has been taken and the date set. As we now watch the complex and cumbersome electoral process set in motion, let us hope the country is mature enough to take a general election, even if a premature one, in its stride.

 

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