Saturday, 14 January 2012

So what's next?

So what's next?

The news this week was dominated by Franco Debono's declaration of no confidence in the Gonzi government and by consequence whether the Gonzi government still commands a parliamentary majority.

This has been discussed on Bla Agenda, Inkontri, Bondi Plus, Iswed fuq l-Abjad, Xarabank and other current affairs programmes and has dominated the news bulletins all week long.

The position of the two main parties has been contrasting as usual.   The PN said this is not the time to seek votes of confidence or no-confidence in parliament which could trigger early elections as it is not in the country's national interest to have such early elections.  Labour argued that what is not in the country's interest is the instability of having a government that is not backed by a parliamentary majority so it is important to settle the issue one way or another as a matter of urgency.  PL in fact presented a motion of no-confidence which will have to be voted upon probably next week.

While Franco Debono has kept firmly to his line of criticism of the Gonzi government, he has avoided Yes or No answers about the confidence motion.

So what outcomes are likely from the parliamentary vote on the no confidence motion?  

There are four possible outcomes:
a. Debono succumbs by resigning or restoring his confidence in Gonzi in which case Labour's motion would be withdrawn.   Probability:   VERY VERY LOW

b. Debono simply votes against the no-confidence motion in which case it will be like Shakespeare's 'much ado about nothing'.   Probability: VERY LOW

c. Debono simply votes for the no confidence motion in which case it will start a constitutional process involving the President with the probability of holding early elections.    This would take Debono out of the spotlight he evidently cherishes, so it has a VERY LOW probability.

d.  Debono abstains or simply absents himself in which case the no confidence motion will probably be defeated by the Speaker's casting vote, in which case Debono keeps his spot in the limelight, the instability keeps on and we enter a high gear election campaign that could be as long as 17 months.  Probability QUITE HIGH.

So whilst everyone is paying homage to the absolute need for the country to be restored to political stability the likely outcome is the one which delivers the exact opposite.

The PN argument that early elections are a source of instability is simply false.  Early elections would trigger instability during the 6 week long campaign but after that the country has a properly mandated government with a five year term ahead of it.   Instead the PN seem to find stability in the instability of a 17 month long election campaign where Debono from time to time throws an arrow threatening to destabilise the government unless it wakes up from its lethargy.

Sometimes preserving fake stability is the very source of instability.

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