Editorial | Clarity and fixed-term elections

This leader believes the country needs clarity as it prepares to enter a very important period for retail activity, more so after two lost years


The current legislature comes to its natural end in June 2022, which means that at the very latest an election will have to be held by September next year.

No one believes the election will be held in September 2022 or in the couple of months before that, which means that we will be called to the vote sometime between November this year and June 2022.

Robert Abela has constitutional discretion when to call a general election, a power every prime minister before him has used to his political advantage.

Experience has shown that when a general election is called, a measure of uncertainty kicks in and the commercial community feels the pinch of a self-induced slowdown.

A short electoral campaign ensures the slowdown does not drag on, minimising the negative impact on business and the economy.

Within this context, the current speculation that an election is imminent is not helping. Retailers, in particular, are on tenterhooks given the uncertainty this is creating at a time when they are gearing up for Black Friday and the Christmas period.

So far, all we have is intense speculation, an Opposition that gives credence to that speculation with news reports in its own media, and a Prime Minister who refuses to rule out an election by the end of this year.

This leader believes the country needs clarity as it prepares to enter a very important period for retail activity, more so after two lost years.

If the Prime Minister has the intention of holding the election on 27 November he should just say so. There is no advantage to be gained between now and next Tuesday, which would be the last possible date for parliament to be dissolved if an election is to be held in November. Nobody believes an election will be held in December.

Indeed, on Tuesday, after his budget speech, Abela should have been clear in his words.

On the other hand, if the Prime Minister has no intention of calling a general election this year, he should simply stop playing around with words and rule it out forthright. In this way, everyone can settle down and go about their business normally.

This leader will not enter into the merits of when the election should be held – it remains Abela’s prerogative as things stand today. And although the national interest should prevail, we are not naïve to believe that a politician will not use that prerogative to his advantage.

But we will argue for a serious discussion on a proposal for a fixed-term legislature with a fixed election date. Such a proposal has been made by ADPD.

This would be similar to what some other western democracies such as the US and UK have.

In this way, election speculation and the useless uncertainty it raises will stop being a matter of concern months before the actual date is announced. The endless guessing game will end and a fixed-term parliament will also help businesses plan ahead.

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