Recent events in the holy of holies that is parliament are beginning to make the Council of Trent seem like a walk in the park. I have already registered my consternation at what seems to have been a missed opportunity by the PN to take the initiative following the summer recess and to finally call the damn election. My observations seem to have found an echo in (of all places) Franco Debono’s latest rant (Gonzi had planned an October election) – and I am not sure whether this is a good thing. It would seem that the initiative was not taken because of a +12% gap at the polls that did not augur well or a snap October/November scrutiny.
Whatever the case may be and no matter how much of my guesswork was actually right I would like to look at another element in this pre-election frenzy and that is the magic BUDGET. I do not have the powers of foresight that the late Spiridione Sant proclaimed to have with much rasputinian fervour and cannot claim to be privy to the content of the forthcoming budget. What I can do is ask a few questions with regard to the budget and how it places itself in an eventual election run.
Some pundits are assuming that a PN budget is planned as some sort of “show and tell” exercise with the electorate. In this scenario, Gonzi and Fenech would present a budget that clearly shows the direction that the PN is taking with the management of the country. Bar any contradictory hiccups (St. Philip’s being the prime candidate for contradictory hiccup material) we would have a budget that doubles as a practical electoral manifesto that would presumably contrast greatly with Muscat’s pie in the sky lists of “ma nindaħlux lill-business” style.
The grand underpinning point in this plan is that Gonzi’s PN knows full well that Franco Debono is bound to hijack the budget and will be lying around in wait like a taliban strapped to his panties with dynamite, semtex and more ready to blow the project to smithereens with his (now openly declared) vote against the budget. The idea here is simple (pace the spinmeisters at Pieta)… a lovely budget that will most likely be endorsed by Brussels (we have to get a nod of sorts because of the concerted austerity plan – there IS a world beyond Joseph and Lawrence) that might even tickle the fancy of the doubters but that gets shot down by the new villain in the story – Master Debono of Għaxaq. Q.E.D.
Now I am no master of the polls and statistics but I do have a legitimate question to ask. What weight are we supposed to give a budget that is very evidently being presented with the extreme likelihood that it will not be adopted or accepted? I mean, in the long run it’s a case of “You know that I know that you know” and Fenech & Gonzi’s hopes about the Franco party-pooper business are not exactly secret. So with that perspective don’t you think that this budget would be a budget lite?
We might not get to answer the question should Franco and Labour continue with the barrage of motions trying desperately to alter the orders of the house. On the other hand it is beginning to seem extremely likely that the current interpretation of the house rules will lead us to a November Budget as the first real vote that would make the PN’s plans re Franco and his sabotage come true.
Whatever the case don’t forget to ask yourself – is it a budget or the modern PN equivalent of a trojan horse?
Beware of the nationalist finance minister bearing budgets.