Monday, 26 December 2011

Gonzi's dilemma for the New Year

There are two good reasons why the Prime Minister should consider early elections.   There is one strong reason why he should not.

The elections have to be held, if in practical terms of the months of July and August are excluded, by June 2013 in 18 months time.
The PN is not new to holding early elections.  In 1992 they were  held in February whilst government could have lasted till October.  In 1996  in October when the latest permitted date was July of the following year.   In 2003 elections were held in April when they could have waited till January of 2004.   And in 2008 they went for it in March when they could have waited till August.   Always a few months early, maximum 9 months, but never as early as 15 months, if as rumoured the election will be held in March alongside the local councils' election.

Franco Debono threat to vote against government and wipe away the government's mandate through parliament is not the only reason why Gonzi may be forced, against his will, to go for elections earlier than planned.   The other reason is the complicating situation in Europe's economy which could darken the economic environment to make it unappetising to consider elections being held when due, i.e. in spring of 2013

My best bet before the Franco Debono debacle was that the Prime Minister was keeping his options open to hold the elections next Autumn without having to present the Budget for 2013.    If the economic situation worsens the over-optimism inbuilt in the 2012 Budget would be exposed and the Budget for 2013 would form an unsuitable platform for re-election.

The Franco Debono disloyalty to the party whip could now force the Prime Minister's hand.

Yet there is one extremely valid reason why Dr Gonzi should hold out and muddle through to stick to his plans without putting Franco Debono in the equation.   It is that there is greater chance of losing the elections if held early because of Franco Debono than if he holds out for elections when due trusting his luck that the Euro crisis will blow over and the economy will permit a further gold tinted budget before going for elections in 2013.

My best bet is that the Prime Minister and the PN will now use a mixture of charm and threats to contain Franco Debono's misdemeanours.  

Who knows may be Franco Debono may even find himself a place at the Cabinet table next to Minister Mifsud Bonnici.  Or may be the government may freeze its legislative programme and continue governing with minimal parliamentary involvement till next Autumn.

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