Azopardi re-joins GSD and eyes leadership role
Keith Azopardi has re-joined the GSD and yesterday confirmed he would consider standing for election as its leader.
Mr Azopardi, who said he wanted to help in the “renewal” of the GSD, made clear that if its founder Peter Montegriffo chose to return to frontline politics and stand as leader, he would support him.
But he also left no doubt as to his own leadership aspirations if that did not happen.
Mr Azopardi, a barrister, served as a GSD minister from 1996 to 2003 and was deputy Chief Minister during the second of those terms under Sir Peter Caruana.
He later left the party to form the Progressive Democratic Party, which he led into two general elections without being able to secure a seat in Parliament.
His return to the GSD comes as the party prepares to hold a leadership election following the resignation of Daniel Feetham from the post.
“I have re-joined to play my part in any renewal of the party to the extent that the current leadership, MPs, the Executive and members desire,” Mr Azopardi said.
“If Peter Montegriffo stands I will support him.”
“If he does not then I will consider throwing my hat in the ring.”
Mr Montegriffo has in the past said that he has no plans to return frontline politics, but he has never ruled the possibility out altogether and has gone as far as saying he is sometime “tempted” by the prospect.
Another potential contender for the leadership post, Damon Bossino, has not confirmed whether he intends to put his name forward.
Mr Bossino, a barrister who works in the same law firm as Mr Azopardi, served as a GSD MP in opposition and deputy leader after running against Mr Feetham in a leadership election in 2013.
Although he stepped back from frontline politics after leaving Parliament at the last general election, the Chronicle understands that he also wants to help revitalise the party and is giving serious consideration to the possibility putting his name forward once again.
Likewise Roy Clinton, who stepped in as interim party Leader after Mr Feetham stepped down from the post, has indicated that while he has yet to decide on whether to stand for the permanent post, “it is not something I would shirk”.
The latest developments come after a poll commissioned by GBC found that the majority of respondents would opt for a GSD led by Peter Montegriffo.
The face-to-face poll, which was put to 600 people, asked one simple question: ‘If you could choose anyone to be in opposition right now, who would you choose?’
The ‘scientific poll’ included multiple choice answers including a GSD led by Keith Azopardi, Damon Bossino and Roy Clinton respectively. But it also looked further afield and included an option of a new party led by Independent MP Marlene Hassan Nahon.
While Mr Montegriffo topped the poll pulling in 26% of the votes, 23% of those polled answered ‘Don’t know’ to the question.
A further 18% opted for a new party led by Mrs Hassan Nahon and 16% preferred a GSD led by Mr Azopardi.
Eight per cent of those surveyed opted for a GSD led by Mr Bossino and seven per cent backed current Leader of the Opposition Roy Clinton. Two per cent said ‘other’.
In an interview with Radio Gibraltar as part of the segment ‘the Opposition, your questions’, Mr Clinton said he was ‘not surprised’ that Mr Montegriffo had polled highly given that he was the founder and first Leader of the party.
Asked if he thought it likely that Mr Montegriffo would return he said: “Everything is possible but ultimately it would be a decision for him.”
Commenting on her results Mrs Hassan Nahon said: “My approval ratings I believe indicate a desire for unity and a constructive approach to opposition.”
“I’m grateful personally for these indicators as they confirm that my style of politics is something the community seems to be calling for, especially given that there is currently no party machinery behind me and that I am polled against four other options for the same party.”
In her assessment of the poll, the GSD levels of approval “indicate not only the increasing irrelevance of the party, but also a rejection of the style of politics – the antagonistic point scoring, which is something both big parties have done in the past.”