The PL electoral timing!

Blog post Dr. Hermann Farrugia

A few days ago, the Vatican announced that it was postponing Pope Francis’ long overdue official visit to France. The reasons given were on political and ethical grounds. The Vatican wants this visit to take place after the French Presidential election which will be held between the 10th and 24th April 2022.

It is logical to assume that Malta’s general election will be held in the early spring. This is well beyond the Supreme Pontiff’s already announced Winter-visit to our Islands. Such a visit can possibly coincide with the solemnity of St Paul’s Shipwreck next February 10, 2022!

But such a visit now risks being postponed again. The Prime Minister is more interested to have his election coinciding with one of the five National Feasts that are celebrated in Malta each year.  

In analysing Prime Minister Abela’s constitutionally ingrained political meshwork, it’s indeed not so complex to somehow guess that the Saturdays, 26 March or 2 April may either way correctly correspond to general election day.

This is because Partit Laburista in government has traditionally always tended (obviously excepting ‘force-Majeure episodes) to coincide its projected electoral victories with national holidays of historic and socio-political relevance. In other words, this election will coincide with the festivities of Jum Il-Ħelsien.

The intention was clearly bi-pronged: a strategic scope of accentuating the jubilant sprees in the Socialist mass-celebrations has been one way of looking at Labour’s choice of voting day. This has corollary consequences. By such a move, Labour would be anticipating to crush any remnant of Nationalist spirit by targeting the morale of the Nationalist Party’s activists with the expectation of a Labour victory.

Such had been the M.L.P. (now P.L.) consecutive decisions in holding a general election on the 17 and 18 September ’76. This coincided with the 12th Independence anniversary. The next election was held on 12 December ’81 and thus collided with the 7th anniversary of the Republic. The next time that a Labour Government had called an election was on the 5th September 1998 in line for Victory Day.

Even on the chosen day of the last electoral encounter, Labour opted for 2nd June 2017, in proximity to the Sette Giugno which is another National Day.

Of course, this time round, such opportune strategic timing would be conditioned by the Covid situation but still, Robert Abela is according sufficient time for certain specific Budget ’22 measures to leave their effects on the country. Not to mention, the near-inevitable ‘sense of overpowering incumbency rampantly generating ongoing ‘vote-buying’ exercises.

It is needless to remind how well-established ‘electoral techniques’ inherent to such rather protracted pre-official campaigns would necessarily carry their meticulously intended scope of an unfair partisan advantage to tangible fruition. What is the morning-after-polling ‘cherry on the cake’ that the Nationalist Party would have to painfully digest? The Nationalist Party is now risking to suffer from electoral fatigue and exhaustion after its long and protracted campaign that was based on the premise that Labour was going to call an election in November.

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