As Gibraltar prepares for an October 12 general election, latest polls show the major parties neck-and-neck with a large number of voters on The Rock still declaring as “undecided”.
Chief Minister Fabian Picardo’s Labour alliance with the Liberals on a 21.64 per cent approval rating trails the Gibraltar Social Democrats (GSD) led by Keith Azopardi on 23.72 per cent, according to the polling by GBC, the public television broadcaster in the British Overseas Territory.
The “don’t knows” still constitute nearly a third of all voters – at 31.38 per cent – with less than a month to go before polling day.
At the last election, Picardo’s Labour/Liberal alliance took 10 of the 17 seats up for grabs, leaving the GSD with six and Together Gibraltar (TG) with one.
After drawing just 3 per cent in the GBC poll, TG, a party formed in 2019 that had been in talks with the GSD, announced it would withdraw from the election and field no candidates.
TG’s interim leader Nick Calamaro said the party would return to its grassroots to concentrate on growing its membership and engaging with the public.
“It’s a sad decision we’ve had to make because we know people are clamouring for more choices,” he said.
“We feel that Gibraltar desperately needs that extra voice that brings politics to the masses, lets ordinary people get involved and gives them a chance to make a difference.”
While the latest poll results between the parties are close, Picardo’s standing as choice to remain as Chief Minister is strong with 55 per cent of respondents who answered choosing the incumbent over Azopardi who was favoured by just 23 per cent.
Picardo’s hard-line stance on supporting a “no deal Brexit” at the last general election in 2019 proved a vote-winner and his personal popularity still remains high.
That is particularly so among those who approve of his no-nonsense approach in dealing with Madrid as negotiations continue over the post-Brexit future relationship between Gibraltar, Spain, the UK and the European Union.
With meaningful talks on hold while Spain sorts out its own political turmoil, the Chief Minister intrigued the National Day celebration audience on September 10, saying that all parties involved in the negotiations were “close to something special”.
The head of Gibraltar’s Government told the attendees that the negotiations for a treaty between the UK and the EU on their future relationship is, “without a doubt, one of the greatest challenges that I have had to face as Chief Minister”. He added that if he was re-elected he hoped to be able to talk about a “historic agreement” at next year’s National Day celebrations.