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Chronicle/GBC poll gives GSD wafer-thin edge in tightest of contests

The GSD would squeeze into government by the narrowest of margins on October 12, according to a poll by The Gibraltar Chronicle and GBC that leaves no doubt as to the knife-edge election now entering its final week ahead of voting day.

In the poll, Keith Azopardi’s GSD would secure sufficient votes for nine MPs with just a half percent lead over the Alliance.

The GSLP/Liberals would win eight seats, with Sir Joe Bossano left out of Parliament after 51 years as an MP, alongside Liberal MP Vijay Daryanani.

On the GSD slate, all candidates would secure parliamentary seats except for Youssef El Hana, the GSD member whose past social media posts on Palestine and Israel have generated controversy during the election campaign.

In the poll of 600 voters, the GSD won 49.18% of the vote, with the GSLP/Liberals garnering 48.65%. The gap between them was just 0.53%.

Independent Social Democrat Robert Vasquez registered 2.17% of the vote.

The poll was conducted face-to-face by staff from the Chronicle and GBC in different locations around the Rock and at different times over the past four days.

Respondents were able to provide their answers anonymously to provide a snapshot of voter sentiment, which points to no clear front runner ahead of October 12.

The poll signals a potential change in the make-up of Parliament, perhaps reflecting the fact that many respondents voted for fewer than the 10 candidates they were allowed to select.

A total of 6,000 votes were potentially up for grabs in the poll, but the 600 respondents recorded only 4,921, meaning some 18% of votes were unused.

Parliament is normally made up of 10 Government MPs and seven Opposition MPs.

But if the poll is correct, the new Parliament after October 12 would have nine Government MPs and eight on the Opposition bench.

There would be another change too. In recent elections since Parliament was expanded after the 2006 Constitution, the 10 Government MPs have been the most voted on the list, followed by the Opposition’s seven MPs.

But the poll points to a mixed bag across the 17 candidates that make it to Parliament, perhaps indicating a degree of split voting rather than the block vote both parties are calling for.

Although the GSD would have most MPs and would form government, the GSLP/Liberals would have six of the 10 most voted MPs.

In the poll, Mr Azopardi topped the list on individual votes with 289, followed by GSD MP Damon Bossino with 286 votes.

Third on the list was GSLP leader Fabian Picardo with 285 votes, followed by Liberal leader Dr Joseph Garcia (280); Gemma Arias-Vasquez (GSLP/272); Roy Clinton (GSD/263); Craig Sacarello (GSD/254); Nigel Feetham (GSLP/251); Christian Santos (GSLP/251); Dr John Cortes (GSLP/238); Edwin Reyes (GSD/235); Professor Daniella Tilbury (GSD/229); Joelle Ladislaus (GSD/227); Giovanni Origo (GSD/224); Pat Orfila (GSLP/222); Leslie Bruzon (Liberal/212); and Atrish Sanchez (GSD/212).

The GSLP’s Sir Joe and the GSD’s Mr El Hana secured 201 votes each, while Liberal candidate Mr Daryanani registered 182 votes and independent Mr Vasquez 107.

The deciding factor was not at the top of the list, but rather at the bottom, where the gap between the last candidate to slip into Parliament and the nearest rival was wafer thin.

In the poll, the gap between Atrish Sanchez, the lowest ranked GSD candidate in Parliament, and Sir Joe Bossano, the closest of the two Alliance members who missed out, was just 11 votes.

The same was true for GSD candidate Mr El Hana, who was 11 votes behind the Liberals’ Leslie Bruzon.

The in-house poll is the first of two conducted jointly by the Chronicle and GBC.

A second poll, also face-to-face, has been commissioned from Mediatel and will be conducted in the coming days, with the results published next week ahead of polling day. Panorama is also conducting a postal poll ahead of October 12.

An earlier face-to-face poll of 1,109 people, conducted by GBC and Mediatel before the candidate slates were announced and before Together Gibraltar dropped out of the electoral race, gave the GSD a two-point lead over the Alliance.

TG dropped out after its leader, Marlene Hasan Nahon, announced she was leaving frontline politics.

The GSD and TG had discussed presenting a joint front at the election so as not to split the Opposition vote, but the pact did not materialise.

In the event, TG’s decision to not field candidates left its voters in search of a new home.

Respondents in the earlier GBC poll were also asked an optional, open-ended question as to who they thought would make the best Chief Minister for the next four years, with respondents volunteering their answers rather than choosing from a list.

About half of those polled responded to this question, with 55% saying Fabian Picardo would make the best Chief Minister and GSD leader Mr Azopardi coming in second at 23%.

That marks a clear difference from the results of the joint Chronicle/GBC poll, which put Mr Azopardi at the top of the list ahead of Mr Picardo, albeit by a narrow margin.

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