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Alliance and GSD present manifestoes as election campaign enters third week

Photos by Johnny Bugeja

The GSLP/Liberals and the GSD presented their election manifestoes on Friday, as their campaigns stepped up with just two weeks to go to polling day.

It means that each grouping contesting the election has now set out in detail its program for government, as has Independent Social Democrat Robert Vasquez, who was fast out of the gate and published his manifesto last week.

GSLP leader Fabian Picardo said the Alliance manifesto contained “…the most substance, the best ideas and the best reflection of where Gibraltar can be in the next four years.”

Keith Azopardi, the leader of the GSD, said his party was offering “…a good vision for the way forward about why change is necessary.”

Both manifestoes presented yesterday are available online. The Alliance plans to distribute copies around Gibraltar, while the GSD will distribute a summary document, with a longer version available at the party’s HQ for anyone who wants a copy.

Mr Vasquez’ manifesto is also available online and he has been distributing hard copies on Main Street, where he has maintained a daily presence from the outset talking to voters.

Mr Picardo said the GSLP/Liberal program is split into four key sections, including the Alliance’s approach to the Brexit negotiation and international relations; Gibraltar’s economy, including public finances; quality of life on the Rock; and lastly healthcare, justice and equality.

“The GSD are talking about auditing, they're talking about reviewing, they are not talking about doing,” Mr Picardo said at a press briefing where launched the manifesto sitting next to Liberal Party leader Dr Joseph Garcia.

“This document is what we will do, our obligations to you, our commitments to you on what we will do if you make us your government again, detailed policies ready to go.”

“The time has come for you to choose whether you continue to have the GSLP/Liberals in government continuing the progress that we've delivered, ready to go with our program that we are ready to start delivering, or whether you pause everything to audit and to review and to waste time instead of continuing to move forward.”

Dr Garcia acknowledged that the Alliance’s delivery of its 2019 manifesto had been hindered by Covid-19, which meant only around 60% of around 500 commitments were delivered or initiated.

But he said the document presented on Friday was the GSLP/Liberals’ contract with the electorate.

“The commitments we make in a manifesto matter,” he said.

Whereas, as you know, in the past others have described manifestos as simply a wish list, for us it's not a wish list, it's much more than that.”

“It's an obligation.”

For his part, Mr Azopardi said the GSD manifesto was constructed around two key themes, Back on Track and Bright Future.

“These are the themes that we've been talking about throughout this campaign ensuring that we sort out Gibraltar in financial terms, in democratic terms, and then dealing with the aspirational future issues that we need to remodel so that we can have better policies on other aspects,” he said.

“Under Back on Track, our main commitments are to stop abuse and corruption, fix the public finances crisis, get a safe and beneficial EU deal and change how we are governed.”

“Under a Bright Future, what we mean by that is leaving no one behind, policies that leave no one behind, opportunity for all, not just a few, and living your best life.”

“And we define those in subsequent pages as to what the principal commitments under these headings are and what the conceptual vision of those Back On Track and Bright Future pillars of the manifesto are.”

There is a further section called Living Your Best Life, where the GSD delved into its plans for Gibraltar 2055, a 30-year strategy for what Mr Azopardi described as a “more liveable city”.

Quizzed on whether the manifesto has been costed, Mr Azopardi said: “What you will see in our manifesto, there's a lot of commitments, but we think a lot of the commitments in there are not going to incur high costs.”

“And indeed, this manifesto is crafted on the basis that we entirely understand that whatever we do would need to be cautiously modelled because we're in the Opposition, so we don't know what the true state of public finances are.”

“So when you look at the first half of this manifesto, a lot of those measures are not going to cost a lot of money because they are about getting to grips with public finances, sorting out rules and regulations, it is about dealing with controls, so that's about efficiencies, cutting down waste and abuse, et cetera, et cetera.”

He added: “We are not throwing money at the manifesto willy nilly. We're not doing that.”

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