ALL AH WE IS ONE: Sooner or later?
There is wide expectation that Prime Minister Stuart will call the next election as late as is constitutionally allowed. In this regard, he has publicly identified April 15, 2013, as his upper limit.
Whilst Albert Brandford has indicated an alternative constitutionally mandated date of May 12 in the April 8 SUNDAY SUN – over to you, constitutional experts – this article will discuss the pros and cons of a late election.
There are always “ethical” questions in going beyond the five years and into the allowed 90 days. Indeed, in a strict sense such an option is justifiable only in special circumstances as in the cases where natural calamities or social disorder prevent the holding of an election within the five years.
It could not have been the case that the framers of our constitution intended for the 90-day provision to be used for Governments to delay, beyond a reasonable period, the right of the populace to decide on the renewal of the Government’s mandate. Calling it mid-2013 may suggest a Government enjoying office for its own sake.
In a tactical sense, too, a latest possible election sends the wrong signal. It always suggests an administration dissatisfied with its own performance, unready and needing time to do more, and one uncertain of victory.
In cases where polls show the opposition out front, the late election is always adopted in the hope that some dramatic event will change the situation or will afford the Government time to work the ground, begin to deliver on its projects, and turn around its macroeconomic performance.
It is the large number of unknown variables that make it risky to delay an election till its latest possible date. Like a woman eager to leave an unhappy relationship, the longer the undesirable partner sticks around, the more frustrated she becomes and the deeper her desire to leave.
In addition, as the impending closure of Almond Village has shown, things can get worse rather than better.
Indeed, as I had argued in an earlier article mid-2011 (Lines Drawn), the terms of the next election had been set a very long time ago, and it was unlikely that much could change by way of economic improvement or the rolling out of Government projects. That was before the internal criticism of Stuart, the Opposition rapprochement, the CLICO forensic report, and the Almond Village impending closure.
With the arrival of the maximal one-year limit, any element of surprise in an “early election” has disappeared.
The Government now has to decide whether to risk further haemorrhage or limit potential fallout by calling it sooner rather than later.
Whilst the PM is well known for deliberateness, it may be of little tactical value, as time, this time, may not be a useful ally.