It is rather ironic that after the Budget failed to get through Parliament last night, Malta at last has some certainty: a general election will be held on March 9.
The country can take comfort too from the fact that there will be no more disruptions of a personal kind.
Parliament will not be used for the settling of personal scores as it has shamefully witnessed over the past year or more. It is this more than anything else that has caused uncertainty, and at times instability.
Those who have indulged in such practices can reflect on their actions in solitude and wonder where it got them.
The Government constantly urged the Labour Party to support last night’s Budget vote – conveniently omitting the fact that it was a vote of confidence – and seemingly forgetting the elephant in the room. There was absolutely no justifiable reason for a Nationalist MP to vote against the Budget, just like there was no justifiable reason to force out of office Carm Mifsud Bonnici and Richard Cachia Caruana.
What happened last night was the culmination of a terrible campaign.
Which is ironic, considering that Lawrence Gonzi has displayed more patience than anyone in Franco Debono’s regard, we would say too much; there was no one who offered him more opportunities, possibly against the Prime Minister’s better judgment; and there was no one who had to take such persistent abuse at this MP’s hands. Dr Debono has not been the unfortunate martyr he has tried to portray himself to be in the name of a valiant cause, but rather a man with a chip on his shoulder.
Members of the media will tell you – if they are honest – how doggedly this MP has pursued self-publicity; how he has spent countless hours telling them about his achievements. And as he dangled his crucial parliamentary vote as a carrot, he was often successful – probably gaining more column inches in the past year than any of his counterparts.
When he failed, which happened more often of late as his political relevance faded, he launched attacks either in Parliament, court, blogs or through other media. The limit of his diatribe has known no bounds.
Last night, Dr Debono lost no time to list the failures of his own Government. But were they really the reason why he voted the Budget down?
Would he have used the same aggressive tone and dismissed these “failures” in Parliament if he were sitting in the front bench? His behaviour is indeed a shame, since had he been rational he may have been able to contribute something positive. It is time to put all that behind us and get on with the business of living until the election campaign proper begins next month.
The political parties have both said they will allow the Maltese to enjoy the Christmas festivities in peace. Let us hope they are true to their word. Though this country revels in the political scene – to its detriment on too many occasions – it has had more than its fair share in past 12 months and deserves some respite, even if it is brief.
As Labour prepares for the race with a comfortable headstart in the polls, and the Nationalists hope Simon Busuttil’s election as deputy leader will give them an electoral boost, the rest of us can only reflect on several positive things Parliament could have achieved had its agenda not been consistently hijacked.
Let us hope we do not have to witness this again anytime soon.
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