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TG to present slate at election after GSD rules out alliance

GSD Headquarters. Pic by Johnny Bugeja.

The GSD has ruled out forming an alliance with Together Gibraltar for the forthcoming general election.

The decision was taken on Monday night and TG said it now plans to present its own candidates when Gibraltar goes to the polls.

“We fully intend to put forward a slate, albeit one that acknowledges our current position,” Nick Calamaro, TG’s interim leader, told the Chronicle.

“Our aim is to give the electorate a meaningful choice rather than allowing the GSD to sail into opposition uncontested.”

“We want to build off the tremendous work Marlene [Hassan Nahon] has done, even as a lone voice and keep Together Gibraltar going as a party which stands by its values and a home for those who want to make a difference.”

“We hope that we can build on her tireless work and give Gibraltar an opposition that is effective and consistent—something the GSD has failed to deliver.”

The two parties had for months been discussing the possibility of joining forces to avoid splitting the opposition vote, with the issue brought to a head mid-June following the announcement by TG founder Marlene Hassan Nahon that she was leaving frontline politics at the next election.

In the wake of that announcement GSD leader and Leader of the Opposition, Keith Azopardi, had kept open the possibility of an alliance, insisting there was much that united supporters of both parties.

“For example, in terms of the fact that we want change, the fact that we want the way that we are governed to change, the fact that we are both, I think, concerned about the public finances issues, that we are both concerned about the waste, abuse and corruption agenda, about quality of life,” he told the Chronicle in an interview late June.

“From my perspective, there was much more that unites people who want change, who both support GSD and TG, than divides us.”

Mr Azopardi said “it would be a travesty” if more than 50% of voters wanted change but this was not delivered because the opposition vote was split.

On Monday, Mr Azopardi said he presented his party executive with a “specific proposal” to include two TG candidates alongside eight GSD candidates on a single slate.

The proposal went no further and there were no promises of ministerial posts, he told the Chronicle.

But the prospect of an alliance, something which rankled with many core GSD supporters, was narrowly rejected by the GSD executive at a meeting on Monday night.

But the prospect of an alliance was narrowly rejected by the GSD executive at a meeting on Monday night.

“I confirm that the possibility of entering into an electoral alliance with TG was considered by the GSD executive yesterday,” Mr Azopardi told the Chronicle.

“We had a long and considered debate where all issues were explored and in a closely run outcome the executive decided not to do so.”

“I communicated that to TG last night.”

“This was an issue that needed to culminate in a decision one way or the other for both parties given the proximity of an election. That was a mutual feeling.”

“There are many people within TG that we have synergies with and I have, during the span, of the discussions with them, developed a great sense of respect for those individuals.”

“It was important for all options to be considered as we did.”

“Equally, now that the democratic decision has been taken, it is clear to both parties what the way forward is for the next election.”

“The GSD will now redouble its continuing efforts to persuade people to make the change at the next election by backing the GSD as the only alternative team ready for Government.”

Mr Azopardi dismissed any suggestion that the executive’s rejection of his proposal for an alliance weakened his position within the party, insisting – without revealing the voting split – that it was “a very tight thing”.

“How can a democratic process weaken the leader when the leader puts something on the table and people vote yes or no?” he said.

“It doesn’t weaken the leader. It’s a mark of democracy and actually does the reverse.”

Mr Azopardi said he remained upbeat about the GSD’s prospects at the forthcoming election and said he looked forward to the end of the “phoney war” before the date is announced.

He said his message to his party prior to Monday’s vote was that the outcome had to be respected and supported collectively, and that it was now time to “move on” and focus on the election campaign to come.

In a statement, TG acknowledged the GSD’s decision to “forgo an alliance”, adding the decision “represents the GSD deciding to keep competing for seats in opposition, rather than uniting to try and form a government.”

After months of talks, TG said Mr Azopardi had been “unable to secure the support” of the GSD executive.

“There are many respectable voices within the GSD who we looked forward to working with, but it seems that too many in the party want to continue to fumble in disarray,” TG said.

Together Gibraltar said it remained committed to fighting for representation in parliament “and beyond”, highlighting too “the remarkable work” done by Ms Hassan Nahon as the party’s lone MP.

“Her contributions to public debate and the hundreds of individuals she has helped, show the importance of having more principled representatives in parliament,” TG said.

“Creating a genuine political change is tough going, but looking at Gibraltar’s history, we know it can be done.”

“Together Gibraltar are excited to keep moving forward as a party driven by our principles.”

“If you are someone who thinks politics should be more open, someone who values sustainability, equality and greater opportunities for all Gibraltarians, Together Gibraltar will always have a place for you.”

In an interview with the Chronicle earlier this week, Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said Ms Hassan Nahon’s decision narrowed the choice for voters at the next election.

“I think Marlene has been a polarising force and her absence from the fray will mean that the choice is clearer for the electorate,” he said late last week, days before the GSD announced its decision to rule out an alliance.

“The GSLP/Liberal team will be the progressive force in politics.”

“The GSD is the socially and economically conservative choice, ready to undo some of our progressive laws, especially on reproductive rights.”

“And TG, without Marlene, is not a relevant part of the equation in my view.”

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