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Raphael Vassallo

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?

Raphael Vassallo
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...

 

Chris Grillo
** sigh ** ... I can't help but agree totally to your blog. And that is amazing because I am not in the least pro-labour. (Although I am not pro PN either!)... When I read about the 500euro increase I get my 'little round things' in a twist, and the 15 week holiday is adding insult to injury!
Magrius
This article is similar to a laser-guided missile - right on target. Raphael's comments about the superfluous parliament building summed up many people's resentment for this, let's face it, vain, stupid and wasteful decision. The Maltese taxpayer carries many financial burdens, although none quite as cripplingly extortionate as it's pompous, wasteful and extravagant politicians. At a time when people go to places like Lidl to save a few pennies on bottled water or processed cheese slices, who on earth needs a political class that sees itself as an elite to which no expense should be spared? This country needs politicians who lead by example and who can show that they are trying to cut expenses not increase them.
gp
Right Briffy facial hair is what gives the game away is it when it comes to hiding stuff, being disingenuous or obfuscating, in short untrustworthy is that your take? is that your take on sacred art and the depiction of God,Christ and male saints something to hide have they? Hiding from something are they? Ps what does RV's background got to do with anything! You couldn't believe your ears indeed, how singularly parochial can u get! Unbelievable!!!
Liana Vella-Zarb
Using facial hair as the basis for one's argument, on the other hand, is evidence of pure intellect. Raph, got any of that free popcorn left? I think the MPs have serious competition when it comes to comedy value here....
Liana Vella-Zarb
Using facial hair as the basis for one's argument, on the other hand, is evidence of pure intellect. Raph, got any of that free popcorn left? I think the MPs have serious competition when it comes to comedy value here....
victor borg
I cannot understand why briffy thinks that today's artickle is trash may be because at last Raphael really hit the nail on the head and all you one eyed GONZIPN supporters cannot face the thruth any more,that our prime minister is seeing the end of his political life coming to an end.Also i am sure that those around him would not like to loose staying on the gravy train well said Raphael what a waste of 80 million euro apart of giving us a powerstation using the worst heavy oil knowing that the PL were right it should be run on gas that is how GONZIPN squanders the tax payers money.
eddy privitera
Briffy: yOu didn't like Raphael's article because he always hits the GonziPN nail on the head, and does so with a unique style which no one else matches !!! Carry on Raphael, you're a breath of fresh air to local journalism !
briffy@maltanet
Raphael....I usually read your articles because I like your style and your standard of English, but honestly I can't say that I usually agree with the contents. When somebody made me aware about your background, I just couldn't believe my ears. Maybe it was due to your wearing a full beard. Once somebody told me that when wears a beard one has either something to hide or is hiding from something. This apart, this article is so poor and so devoid of any substance that one can only call it absolute trash. Sorry to have to put it so bluntly, but this is what I honestly feel. I bet that this comment will not be published. However I felt I had to get it off my chest and I feel better now.
Alfred Falzon
Money, power and arrogance.
Christian Thorn
WHY? Salary, perks, control, the Power of incumbency.....
brian farrugia
You forgot the most important reason. You are in government to screw the country`s finances as much as possible, the greater the debt the better, who will pay the bill later, the people, and who will look bad; the next government probably PL. This will result in popular resentment and unrest PL may even only have a one lead majority, makeing the goverment unstable and liable to revolt and fall. The Grand Plan is to screw the goverment finances as much as possible. PROOF; THIS HAS HAPPENED IN RECENT MEMORY IN MALTA. The PN IS A DISHONEST AND CRIMINAL PARTY TO TREAT THE MALTESE PEOPLE IN THIS WAY.
Tony Fenech
Had to read the blog. as endru said brilliant, I take my hat off this time. Not cause I am aligned to the left, but because you said the truth. I think this time you are level-headed. Thks Raphael, must admit could not put it better, Ok ?
gp
Pie Jesu Domine,dona eis requiem they need their rest and holidays like never before poor things the indecision must have sapped their strength!
GRACE PAVIA
The money, Raphael, the money!
Fumarole
I'm fed up hearing and reading the cabinet secretly gave themselves 500 euro. In actual fact they got much more than that !!. First it was 600 euro. Later we learned that they gave themselves a "duty allowance " (!!!!) of 6000 euro a year, and later still we were informed that these LORDS have at their disposal a second car or else another 7000 euro !! Working this out it amounts to a whopping 850 euro WEEKLY !!. Duty allowance ?. Don't we ALL do our duties ?. So are we entitled for an allowance as our Honourable Cabinet get?. But of course not !! Compared to these supermen we are just minions !!.
Andrew Spiteri
Brilliant!