Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Parliament dissolution at a future date is unconstitutional

I am not a lawyer but I can read Maltese and English.

The Constitution provides in article 76(5) regarding dissolution of parliament that when the government loses a motion of no confidence in parliament the Prime Minister has within three days either to resign or to ask the President to dissolve parliament.

The President then has to make a choice.  He can either accept the Prime Minister's recommendation to dissolve parliament and to call general elections within three months.   Or if the President thinks that there is some other member of parliament who can put together a parliamentary majority so as to continue the work of parliament, then the President may refuse to dissolve parliament and appoint another person to seek to form a fresh majority in parliament.

There is no provision however that parliament may be dissolved at a future date.   The President has either to dissolve parliament straight away or to force the Prime Minister to resign and investigate whether there is any other person who can continue parliamentary work till the end of its term, i.e. till next May 2013, by forming a new majority.   If the President chooses to explore that route he obviously has to consult the Leader of the Opposition,   Hon Franco Debono and independent MP Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando and this without further delay.

But it would be wrong and unconstitutional for the President to agree to dissolve parliament at a future date and allow a Prime Minister who has suffered a vote of confidence in parliament to stay in his post without parliament being dissolved.

The Constitution is there to be followed and no Christmas convenience can change its interpretation.

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