GIBRALTAR HEADS TO THE POLLS DURING THE INTENSE DISCUSSIONS OVER THE FUTURE of brexit

By Sarah Cooper-Lesadd, Research Analyst, sarah.cooper-lesadd@fotbot.org

Less than two weeks before October 31 and as Prime Minister Johnson negotiates at the European Council Summit, Gibraltarians are casting their vote at the polls. With the election originally brought forward to tackle uncertainties following the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, Fabian Picardo, currently frontrunner, is looking to reassure voters that his Government have Brexit in hand.

Last month, Chief Minister Fabian Picardo announced the vote to decide 17 members of Gibraltar’s Parliament. Following weeks of intense campaigning, the Minister remains hopeful that the election will provide the much-needed stability and leadership that the territory needs, as Johnson negotiates a deal at the European Council Summit ahead of forthcoming Spanish elections. With Gibraltar’s Chief Minister’s currently the forerunner of the election, his campaign has focused on reassuring voters that government is prepared for a disorderly Brexit with his Government drawing up contingency plans, detailing step after step he will take with his Cabinet after a no deal outcome.

It is anticipated that the GSLP/Liberals will keep themselves in government extending their time in government by another four years. The Gibraltar Chronicle recently published an opinion poll of 622 registered voters, suggesting that the ruling coalition of GSLP and Liberals will sweep to electoral victory, taking 10 seats, followed by the current opposition with six seats and newcomer Marlene Hassan Nahon of Together Gibraltar taking a single seat. The anticipated expected result will consolidate the GSLP/Liberal electoral success in 2015, which saw them win 100,000 votes and receive the highest percentage of votes in its history.

While, the GSLP/Liberal Party is expected to sweep to electoral success, the acting opposition remains in disarray after Damon Bossino confirmed he wanted to replace Keith Azopardi as leader of the party only days before the final vote, after making a U-turn on the tax treaty, which it now wants to include as part of the EU Withdrawal Agreement. As the opposition remain in disarray, Marlene Nahon’s centre left party, Together Gibraltar, has attempted to re-frame the political debate altogether, fighting the election on principles of progressivism, environmentalism, reformism and populism. While, Marlene Hassan Nahon brings new ideas to the table, this has proved to be difficult in a time of intense economic uncertainty as Gibraltar grapples with its future. Having said that, the independent MP could steal some of the GSD Opposition seats, so the election could prove to be more surprising than thought.

As voters continue to visit electoral polls today, we will know tomorrow if the GSLP/Liberal Party have been successful. However, all is not lost for Together Gibraltar who could just sneak ahead of the opposition. Let’s wait to find out what will happen.