You may think that I was wrong in the last post (The Last Interview) when I said that the relevance of JPO to the current political scenario is fading fast. The “rebel MP” is once again sitting on top of the latest news items and the question that Times journalist Kurt Sansone asks is “Will rebel MP pull the plug?”
Well. I was not wrong at all. Pullicino Orlando’s relevance is directly related to the power he can wield to making or breaking the government. Kurt Sansone answers this himself thusly:
“If he does resign from the party but retains his parliamentary seat as an independent, the government would lose its one-seat majority. Although it would precipitate a political crisis, the impact is not immediate. Parliament is closed for the summer recess until October 1 and the government’s majority would have to be ascertained by a vote of confidence.”
My point exactly. A point I have been making ever since the Thursday executive vote banning the three rebel MPs from contesting the next election. The PN strategy is clear. Summer is for preparing the electoral onslaught.
Gonzi’s men knew that the slim majority could not survive far beyond October – and even if by some miracle of patchwork and self-denial they would have managed to drag to 2013 (as some believed Gonzi intended to do) they were aware that they would lose more points than gain should they pander to the tantrum throwing rebels.
Which is why parliament took the long recess. It will open up in time for the inauguration of the new buildings and the official declaration of an electoral campaign opening. Everything else is media speculation. As I said in an earlier post, what remains to be seen is whether Gonzi will hand the self-destruct button to JPO or Franco Debono by forcing a confidence vote. That way the blame/pride for bringing about the end of the legislature will fall clearly on a rebel MP.
Lesson in relevance number one: Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando is irrelevant. Whatever he says or does from now on does not change anything in the dynamics of the approach to an election. Any remaining “scoops” he may provide will only serve to fuel the hungry media machine (hey… it’s summer) and Labour’s grateful politicians who will pick up anything so long as the focus is not themselves and the great emptiness that is their plans for government.