Employees at the Electoral Commission have been unofficially warned “it will be a different Christmas” for them this year as the likely announcement of a general election is fast approaching.

As the two main political parties informally agreed on a three-week truce from electioneering, sources close to the Electoral Commission told The Times that employees had been put on an alert in case an election writ is issued next week.

According to the law, voting documents have to be printed and distributed by the police and party representatives to all eligible voters within 19 days of the publication of an electoral writ.

This means that while the country comes to an almost complete halt due to the festive season, commission employees and police will be working to ensure the legal requirements of the General Elections Act are met.

“It seems we won’t be having any holidays this year,” an official from the commission’s offices at Evans Building said.

“We have been preparing for the eventuality of an election being called for the past months and we are ready to go,” another official said.

As Monday’s crucial parliamentary vote on the Budget is fast approaching with no apparent signs of compromise between the PN and rebel MP Franco Debono, both political parties are now expecting this legislature to come to an end next week.

Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi has already declared he will ask the President to dissolve Parliament and call an election if the Government is defeated in the Budget vote.

Technically, the Government will lose its majority if any member of its parliamentary group or independent MP Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando votes against the Budget.

However, if Dr Debono decides to abstain, the Government will still be able to move on with the vote of the Speaker.

Although a general election is looking more likely, the electorate will be spared political campaigning, at least during the festive season.

Top PN and PL officials told The Times that according to an informal agreement, the two parties had agreed to start their official campaigns after the first week of January.

No political activities will be held between December 17 and January 6, while electoral billboards of both parties are expected to be given a different look with festive messages replacing political statements.

However, before declaring an unofficial break, both the PN and the PL will be organising their annual fundraising televised marathons to fund their electoral campaign accounts before holidays kick in.

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