POLITICAL parties on the Rock have been campaigning hard since the snap election was announced for October 17.
But who is winning over the public?
The incumbent GSLP/Liberal coalition seems to be gaining support as its experience gives them the edge, especially over newcomers Together Gibraltar (TG).
The government’s strengths both diplomatically and economically along with its investment in education and housing seem to be striking a chord with the electorate.
This was a popular opinion on Gibraltar’s Main Street as the Olive Press found people were confident with the government’s leadership on Brexit and its ability to care for everyday workers.
Recent presentations by the coalition boasted how it had the much-needed element of continuity and expertise to take the territory forward in troubling times.
Gilbert Licudi spoke of how his tourism strategy was bringing in nearly eight million visitors a year to Gibraltar.
He announced plans to create two new museums, a laser display at St Michael’s Cave and a new adventure park in the Northern Defences.
With event-led tourism being one of the main strategies, a Gibraltar-themed Cirque de Soleil could also be introduced next summer.
Another highlight of the government’s plans so far is the expansion of its traffic plan to give cyclists an easier time on the streets.
The creation of a wall walkway across the length of Gibraltar and cycle paths is also aimed at making people use their cars less.
But the other two parties have also made their plans known.
Together Gibraltar has brought together a team of unlikely candidates which promises to offer a fresh perspective.
Its plans to legalise abortion, decriminalise cannabis and give young people a greater say in what goes on has been their selling point.
However, as the electoral campaign progresses, it is also slowly becoming clear they are the most pro-business of all the parties.
This has given rise to fears that the largest employer on the Rock, the civil service, could be the hardest hit if Together Gibraltar gets into office.
Plans to privatise the public sector have been mentioned as well as comments that ‘upto £100million’ was being wasted on ‘corruption’.
In response, Christian Duo of Unite the Union said: “Unite will fiercely oppose any attempt to privatise any Service currently provided by the Public Sector.
“We will not stand idly by while any privatisation is contemplated, as this will only reduce the pay of many employees to benefit the few.”
Public sector union GGCA, meanwhile, questioned ‘the basis on which these claims have been made’.
The Gibraltar Social Democrats, on the other hand, have stuck with the transparency campaign they relied on in the last election.
This war is being fought despite the party’s poor reputation in this area during the 16 years that Peter Caruana was Chief Minister.
Not only that, but despite numerous UK Supreme Court judgements on abortion, the party continues to push to keep life imprisonment for what many see as a basic human right .
Analysts believe that they are trying to woo Gibraltar’s elderly right-wing core with this tactic, which could at least return them to Opposition ahead of TG.
In the end, the signs are that it is unlikely that the public will opt for any other government except for the GSLP/Liberals.
The challenge of Brexit is one of Gibraltar’s greatest since 1988, according to minister for economic development Joe Bossano.
For this reason, the current coalition that has done so much to put Gibraltar on the agenda in the UK and internationally is likely to get the nod on October 17.
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We have analysed three of the standout candidates:
1. Sian Jones: Jones was a relative unknown before she came into the picture for Together Gibraltar. However, the transgender economist has caused quite a stir since her first TV debate up against old rivals Joe Bossano and Roy Clinton. She managed to steal the show with her sharp responses and startling claims of corruption, although her party later made an embarrassing climbdown on their extent.
Claiming to have only been ‘involved in Gibraltar since 2014’ cannot give her too many electoral points, something she admits herself. However, her work at the Financial Services Commission has given her a unique connection to how the Rock makes money and she believes she can help in the future.
2. Joe Bossano: As the father of parliament, this local hero needs no introduction. Although some people have commented on the need for him to stand down, as the founder of the GSLP, he has no desire to do so even at 80-years-young. Having fought for Gibraltar for more than half a century, the economist has a strong work ethic, only taking one day off a year!
He spends all that time reviewing what he can do for his beloved homeland, looking for solutions for problems like the Brexit situation. If anyone knows what can be done to carve out a new economic path post-Brexit it is Sir Joe, whose depth of understanding is second to none. He has predicted the growth of our economy almost to the figure since 1988 when he was first Chief Minister, which is why current GSLP leader Fabian Picardo trusts him implicitly.
3. Daniel Feetham: As a well-known figure in Gibraltarian politics, GSD MP Feetham has a never say die attitude. After first being in government with former Chief Minister Peter Caruana, Feetham was horrifically stabbed in the back in 2010 while walking his children in the street. However, he fought on and was finally named party leader in 2013.
But things did not go well for him, as first Marlene Nahon Hassan and then Lawrence Llamas left the party during his tenure speaking of ‘a loss of trust’. Feetham then stood down as party leader ‘for family reasons’ at what seemed to be the end of his political career. To the surprise of many, he has since continued on the GSD slate and now once again awaits his political fate on October 17.