Countdown to GSD leadership election
In just three days time GSD members will vote for a new leader of the party, the winner of which will be tasked with laying the foundations for the future development of the party and overseeing the resurgence of the GSD.
The leadership election, which was triggered by the resignation of Daniel Feetham last July, is a two-horse race between Keith Azopardi and Roy Clinton.
Both men have firm political pedigrees and long associations with the party.
They have led quite different campaigns since the process began in earnest in October.
Mr Clinton, a former banker who left his career as he felt strongly that the Government needed to be held to account, launched a bells-and-whistles campaign from temporary premises in Main Street along with a fervent social media drive.
Mr Azopardi, on the other hand, has adopted a more low-key approach to campaigning in comparison.
But, speaking from his offices at Triay Stagnetto and Neish, the law firm of which he is a partner, he drilled home a message of renewing policies, rebuilding the party and reconnecting fully with voters.
A sticking point for some members may well be Mr Azopardi’s departure from the GSD in 2005 following the party’s merger with the Labour Group which was then headed by Mr Feetham.
But, the former Deputy Chief Minister has not shied away from discussing this and insisted that although he disagreed with the party for some years he remained an “ideological social democrat”.
Both he and Mr Feetham have also publicly detailed how he has been in discussions to return to the GSD for some years now to assist the party in its task of rebuilding ahead of the next election.
Mr Azopardi has underscored that there were never any pre-conditions to his return to the GSD.
The process of his returning was accelerated in the turn of events that occurred during and after the budget that culminated in the decision by Mr Feetham to stand down from the leadership of the party.
“But standing for the post of Leader was not a decision that I had yet taken because as I made clear during the early summer I would have supported Peter Montegriffo had he decided to seek election as Leader,” Mr Azopardi explained to reporters at a press conference last week.
“In the event he did not and after taking private soundings from members, and discussing the matter fully with Roy, I decided to allow my name to go forward to replace Danny as Leader.”
Mr Clinton has similarly stated that he intends his leadership to be about renewal and energy.
“I intend to take the fight to the GSLP/Liberals holding them to account every step of the way as I have already done on public finances,” he said in a message to party members.
“We can and will take the GSD to new heights.”
Since being elected as an MP in November 2015 Mr Clinton was appointed Deputy Leader of the GSD in March of this year and interim Leader in July.
He currently holds shadow responsibility for public finances, inwards investment, the Gibraltar Savings Bank and small businesses among other things.
He has expounded his commitment to the party in a letter to GSD members which, he said, he has demonstrated in 27 years of unbroken, loyal membership and “by my actions since standing for election into Parliament.”
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