To say there is tension between the Prince’s Government on one hand and the elected National Council on the other is a major understatement. Moreover, it’s been going on for a long time, and was certainly typical of the period when Stéphane Valeri was Council president. Now of course, Mr Valeri is in the much less contentious role of CEO of Société des bains de mer.

Reporting on public debates even on relatively mundane issues is made all the more interesting by the always polite but often bitter ripostes exchanged between, more often than not, His Excellency the Minister of State Pierre Dartout and President of the National Council Brigitte Boccone-Pagès.

While Mr Dartout has a large and commanding presence, Mme President is diminutive, very determined, and never in the mood to be steam-rollered.

So it was no surprise that Mr Dartout had a complaint to make during Thursday’s very important debate on this year’s budget: “I deplore the image that the National Council is trying to give of the Prince’s Government.” He went on to say that criticism of Ministers appeared to be ”systematic.”

Mme Boccone-Pagès was having nothing of this: “I will not be the President of a National Council which would once again be derided as the obstacle to going in circles or as the mouthpiece of unreasonable demands disconnected from reality.” She wondered if Mr Dartout was giving voice to “yet another provocation” on his part.

Several elected members tried to calm the scathing rhetoric, with one saying “No-one here is here to fight” and another: “Cooperation is possible. It is imperative, in the general interest of the country, to change methods, to work together constructively while accepting our healthy differences.”

However, Monaco will have to wait until next Tuesday to know if the still, quiet voice of reason has prevailed. A vote will be held on the amended budget. Standing on tiptoe and putting her head above the parapet one more time, Mme Boccone-Pagès warned: “No vote is a foregone conclusion. No budget is ever a foregone conclusion.”

PHOTO: Mr Dartout speaks while Mme Boccone-Pagès looks on Romain Fondacaro/National Council