It’s time to set an election date

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Ritratt: Miguela Xuereb

Living in Malta, you quickly get used to the bewildering news stories. Last week there was one about a bride-to-be who wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister asking them to announce the date of the next general election because she did not want not that it happens on the same day as her wedding.

“If the election falls on June 4, I would consider changing the date,” she wrote.

My first reaction to this was confusion. I’m always confused when people who are getting married start DMing Chris Fearne’s Facebook page asking him to relax the COVID measures because they’d like a standing wedding reception, or when someone writes an open letter asking that the elections are held on a different date from their marriage.

Now, I don’t want to be the Grinch who stole someone’s wedding, especially since I can understand that having their special day ruined by politics is never fun. But in my opinion, the COVID measures should not change because of someone’s marriage: if the measures are necessary, then they should be in place; if they are not, they must be discarded regardless. Moreover, in the scheme of things, no one’s marriage is more important than the general election.

But after the initial confusion cleared up, I started to think about how unfair the fact that the election date is set by the Prime Minister, at his discretion, is pretty unfair to everyone.

It’s unfair to the other parties and candidates runningbecause any Prime Minister will give himself the best advantage by announcing it as late as possible and as soon as possible.

It’s unfair to us, because it continues to perpetuate the spirit of us constantly in campaign mode: candidates knocking on our doors, political activities and the rest of the charade that goes with it.

And, yes, it’s unfair to companies and people who organize large or important events well in advance. Because, let’s be honest, people might be at your wedding that day, but their minds will be elsewhere throughout the event.

So while I’m still dumbfounded that people may feel so entitled to think that their special day should somehow change the way a pandemic should be approached, or even the date of an election, I still think things should change.

I think it’s time for Parliament to set a date when an election should be expected – and I don’t mean for this year, I mean after every parliament. Just like in Norway, for example, where an election takes place on the second Monday of September every two years, alternating between that of Parliament and that of local elections.

Why? Because these stage plays, which have been used by most governments in Malta, only cause confusion and annoyance, and people are clearly fed up.

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