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Why stay on till 2013?
On Sunday, Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi insisted yet again that he intends to stay on until the end of his term, which officially expires in mid-2013. My only question is: WHY?
16 July 2012, 12:00am
Seriously. Why on earth would he want to do such a thing, if (as has been painfully clear since December) he has no intention of actually governing the country in the meantime? And even if it were his intention to govern... well, he can't. He doesn't have the necessary majority in parliament to do any of the things one normally associates with 'government'. So why such obstinate determination to avoid elections at all costs, when each passing day now only brings Gonzi more headaches, more humiliation, more and more public exposure of dirty linen for all to see... and all because of Gonzi's own marked inability to inspire any form of trust or unity as a leader?
Tell you what: let's go over the possibilities, shall we?
a) Because he has an electoral programme to implement
Ah yes. Electoral programmes. Remember? Those things that political parties tell us they're going to do before an election, only to forget all about them about once safely in power?
Well, the PN's manifesto for 2008 makes fascinating reading today. For instance, it includes this tiny little detail that income tax bands would be reduced, so that salaried employees (such as myself, funnily enough) would end up paying less tax, and therefore take more money home at the end of the month.
As a certain Jules Winnfield might have put it: 'Cool and the Gang!' And yet, four years later, the income tax bands have remained exactly as they were before that promise... with the exception of a partial measure introduced only for the benefit of couples with children, introduced in 2010.
So could it be that Gonzi wants to stay on in power in order to finally make good on that promise? Somehow I doubt it. You see, even if technically there is nothing stopping government from revising tax bands any time it likes - nothing, that is, except the fact that parliament is currently in recess, and will stay that way for the foreseeable future - the simple truth is that Gonzi is altogether too busy implementing promises that he did NOT make before 2008.
For instance, hiring the world's most expensive architect to build a spanking new House of Parliament, for the exclusive benefit of nobody but himself and his own MPs. Oh, yes, I almost forgot: there's also half a theatre thrown in as an afterthought... you know, a small sop to all those selfish, greedy citizens who keep unreasonably insisting that if government plans to spend an unbudgeted €80 million on anything that it didn't actually promise to do before 2008... well, then the money should ideally be on a project that all 400,000 of us can actually enjoy (as opposed to only 65).
b) Because he likes holidays
I have often wondered why the PN has traditionally always invited bands like Boney M to perform for its annual Independence festivities. I used to think it was because they simply couldn't afford anyone who might actually be familiar to people born after 1990. Until, of course, I rediscovered that group's classic hit from the 1970s. Remember? "Hooray! Hooray! It's a Holi-Holiday! A world of fun, for everyone... Holi-Holiday!"
Well, that explains everything, doesn't it? The PN evidently likes its 'Holi-Holidays'. They've just given themselves a whopping two months' summer break... after a three-week Easter recess, following several months of doing the parliamentary equivalent of bugger all since the previous December.
Think about it for a moment. You and I get, what, 25 days annual leave? How does that compare with... FIFTEEN FLIPPING WEEKS?? And not only do our MPs see nothing remotely questionable about spending months on end without actually doing anything to justify their existence... but they even voted unanimously to give themselves a secret pay rise, in some cases amounting to €500 a week.
Small wonder, then, Gonzi would be so keen on seeing his term through to the bitter end. Any change to the status quo might seriously screw up this cosy little arrangement... and force sitting MPs to actually roll up their sleeves and do some work, instead of pocketing their pay-cheques for doing nothing at all. Honestly. Can you imagine?
c) Because Nationalists are masochists
On the subject of Pulp Fiction: remember the Gimp? Well, call me naive, but... until watching that film, I had never imagined that such things as 'masochists' really existed. You know, people who actually get a kick out of being abused and humiliated on a daily basis. And yet they obviously do exist, and are more numerous than previously supposed. How else to explain the fact that the Nationalist Party not only willingly puts up with the current absurdly ridiculous mess it finds itself in... but actively seeks to prolong it for as long as possible? I don't mean Gonzi, by the way - I think we can safely assume that he is not enjoying the present situation one tiny bit (he certainly doesn't look like he's having fun, at any rate).
No, it's the rest of the PN executive that baffles me... the ones who have constantly passed up opportunity after opportunity to put this sorry episode behind them once and for all: first by almost unanimously (96.5%) supporting Gonzi in a sham leadership race last January... then by unanimously 'banning' candidates who had already declared they would not contest with the PN anyway.
Well, if those things did not make them look stupid enough, they have now agreed to allow their party's executive council to be transformed into the equivalent of a gladiatorial arena for its own members to hew each other to pieces, in full view of everyone and their dog.
Which makes me wonder: why don't they also provide free popcorn to go with the entertainment? Just asking...
d) Because otherwise, someone will else will be in power instead
Gee. What on earth would we do without good old Sherlock to solve such mysteries for us, aye? So it seems that, having spent 25 years in power, the PN has suddenly woken up to the possibility that its grip on the reins of government may not actually be eternal. And that if they no longer control the flow of goodies themselves... why, someone else will instead.
And yes, I can more or less understand that Gonzi (or indeed anyone else) would resent the idea that the electorate might willingly choose to be shafted by other people, given half the chance. But if he wants to seriously persuade us that we are all far better off being shafted by his own government instead of anyone else's... well, he can always start by proving that he is in fact in control of that government to begin with. Alternatively he can go to the President and... ooh, I almost forgot. The President is too far busy traipsing around Peru to attend to an urgent political crisis in his own country, isn't he? So I suppose we'll just have to put up with all the nonsense till he gets back...
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