Leo Olivero

It was anticipated for weeks, many thought the 2019 election announcement was imminent, it was!

The election date has been set for Thursday 17 October, as stated, it did not surprise many people. Though I do believe, it may have taken one or two opposition party members on the hop or even off balance if echoes are correct! 

As the Chief Minister announced the election date yesterday morning, his Deputy Dr Joseph Garcia was away on overseas duty attending the Liberal Party conference in Bournemouth.

The CM at a news briefing at No 6 had the feel of a campaign stump speech, with Mr Picardo extolling the virtues of his stable and economically successful Government, but ready for ‘campaign action’ and tough debating and defending the Governments performance over the past 4 years!

There is a kind of a novel theme (if you can call it that) for the coming campaign, in a likely renewal with two of the three parties the GSD and the Together Gibraltar Party with potentially, new leaders in Parliament. None of the latter two politicians in Keith Azopardi and Marlene Hassan, who are expected to contest the election, have served as party leader in any legislature.

Hotly Contested Electoral Campaign Expected

It may be premature at this stage to guess what the Chief Minister and his closest aides have in mind, but one thing is certain. The writing is on the wall: ‘We are heading towards a hotly contested electoral campaign where the issues that matter would not be debated but skimming the surface’. And I can assure you the target will not be the message but the messenger!

The indications are that the-blame-the-other syndrome will dominate this campaign as it did in the 2015 election, there’s no doubt in my mind, this is going to be a negative election campaign where further polarisation will be unavoidable.

Similar to 4 years ago, political parties, although this time there will be three contesting parties, will have already embarked on a strategic plan aimed primarily at discrediting the other parties or their leaders. By the end of the campaign we would realise what cheap politics is all about, but by then it would be too late in the day!

Today’s electorate is not impressed with going for the pound of flesh. Who cares whether Fabian Picardo doesn’t see eye to eye with who ever in his party or whether Keith Azopardi considers Damon Bossino or Danny Feetham as potential threats to his position, or that that Marlene Hassan is having problems holding it together, all this, true or false is utter tosh!

Surely, this is not what the electorate wants to hear from our politicians! If anything, leaked internal party affairs show the sorry state in which our major political parties operate and the electorate, rightly so, has every right to question their credibility when they boast of their preparedness to run Gibraltar’s affairs in the most efficient way and in the interest, of all the citizens and nothing else!

Every citizen wants to have an efficient and progressive government and intelligent well-meaning Parliamentarians. Though we don’t always get what we want. We can at least hope for a better future for Gibraltar, particularly, after Brexit is sorted and our own election is also political history.

Political Weather Front Already a Mass With Clouds of Uncertainty

The medium to long-range (political) weather forecast is already a mass of uncertainty, with dark and stormy clouds circling on the horizon. Clear skies at this level of politics, is often as difficult as forecasting a snowstorm in the Arabian Desert on a baking desert summer’s day!

What really exercises the vast majority of people is not the speculation before, but what happens after the election. People are asking themselves whether we will keep on a stable course or whether we will enter a time of uncertainty. Those bent on political speculation, which are quite a few, may quote polls at the drop of a hat and try to guess who might win. Social media and morning coffee sessions are awash with election forecasters and political experts!

The more sensible lot in society, don’t normally enter a guessing game. But will carefully consider who will be the best safe pair of hands to be entrusted with the helm of the national ship ‘Rock of Gibraltar’.

Race is on - Could be an Ugly Affair – But Behind the Political Scene?

For those who follow local politics, which is a good number of us, convinced that this election is once again going to be another tough and ugly contest, with todays’ modern electioneering techniques nasty affairs, with constant spin rotating the negative verbal’s about each other ‘which they call political electioneering’

Gibraltar is never free from the firm hold politics has on people, but when the governing party makes its election move the political atmosphere is bound to get electric and potentially uglier by the day.

However, digging a little deeper behind the scenes, before the election announcement, it seems one or two internal cracks have clearly appeared in certain areas of the present political scenario set up. Though not quite visible, to the untrained eye or less informed individual, it’s present just the same. I will do my best to keep readers informed as the campaign and Election Day draws near!

It’s also true to say the next election will possible bear more significance on some candidates, even parties than it will do to another. It could even be a ‘do-or-die election’ for a number of reasons. But if anyone thinks he/she is in the party firing line, it might be a good time to log on to Amazon and order some decent surplus protective clothing, though in my day they were purchased by walking in to your nearest Army and Navy stores back in the UK and just as effective.

The Government should not take anything for granted, because if it did, it would be a big mistake, but I’m sure they won’t. As for the opposition, and I have said this a number of times this year, is as strong or as effective as the political efforts or parliamentary interventions of Danny Feetham, the rest may well stay at home or sit in HQ with the unelected leader. But with Marlene Hassan now warming up as a party leader in her own right, it may need quite a few more Danny’s to save the Opposition’s day and give the Government a run for their money!