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Two election slates confirmed as GBC poll gives GSD the edge, although many undecided

GSD leader Keith Azopardi arrives at GSD headquarters on Monday evening alongside executive member Orlando Yeats. Photo by Johnny Bugeja.

The GSLP and the GSD confirmed their respective slates for the forthcoming general election after completing their selection processes on Monday night.

Both line-ups include a significant number of new aspirants to enter frontline politics.

The GSLP said their line-up – first announced on Sunday night but ratified by the party membership on Monday night - included Fabian Picardo, Sir Joe Bossano, Dr John Cortes, Christian Santos, Gemma Vasquez, Nigel Feetham and Pat Orfila.

The GSD confirmed its slate for the election following a meeting of its party executive. It said Keith Azopardi, Damon Bossino, Roy Clinton, Edwin Reyes, Youssef El Hana, Joelle Ladislaus, Giovanni Origo, Craig Sacarello, Atrish Sanchez and Daniella Tilbury would contest the election for the party.

Both parties are expected to formally present their candidates on Tuesday.

The Liberal Party said it would confirm its three candidates by Tuesday evening, while Together Gibraltar said it would not contest the election.

An independent candidate, barrister Robert Vasquez, had previously confirmed his intention to stand in the election.

The deadline for registration of candidates is noon on September 21, allowing some time still for others to step forward.

POLL

The line-ups came as GBC published a poll in which the GSD had a two-point lead on the GSLP/Liberals, with 24% and 22% respectively.

The face-to-face poll of 1,109 people was conducted by GBC with Mediatel last week, before the slates were announced.

It indicated too that 31% of respondents did not know who they would vote for, while another 12% said they would split their vote and 8% said they would vote blank.

The poll also registered 3% of the vote for Together Gibraltar, although the party confirmed on Monday that it would not actually be fielding candidates.

Almost 60% of respondents said they would “consider” voting for an independent candidate.

The poll pointed too to a high turnout, with 59% saying they were “absolutely certain” they would vote in the election and 18% saying they were “fairly certain”.

Respondents 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, with GSD leader Mr Azopardi coming in second at 23%.

In terms of the issues that most concerned respondents and would likely influence their vote, the impact of cost-of-living increases topped the list, followed by healthcare and the UK/EU treaty, the economy and housing.

Reacting to the poll, Mr Picardo and Mr Azopardi were cautious, both stressing and delivering the standard response that the only vote that mattered was the one on October 12.

But there was no doubt both had been poring over the data published by GBC.

“I've always said that if a poll puts you ahead, it shouldn't give you complacency or it shouldn't buoy you, and if a poll puts you behind, it shouldn't demoralise you,” Mr Picardo said.

“Because polls are polls, they're not organised in keeping with election rules, of course, and therefore…the only poll that matters is the general election to be held on the 12th of October of 2023.”

Mr Azopardi said: “Obviously the poll is very important for us and very good news for the GSD.”

“We are, according to the GBC poll, ahead of the GSLP/Liberals for the first time in 12 years.”

“But of course, it's only a poll and there’s no room for complacency.”

“We are not complacent in the GSD. We will carry on working really, really hard, redoubling our efforts, as we will, during the last few weeks of the campaign, to make sure that we try to persuade as many people as possible to back the GSD to deliver the change that Gibraltar needs.”

Independent candidate Mr Vasquez said the poll, in particular the 60% of respondents who said they would consider voting for an independent, gave him “the biggest boost” in his hope to be a voice in Parliament championing democratic reform and prudence in public finance.

CONTROVERSY

The selection process for the GSLP was not without some controversy after longstanding executive member Allan Asquez withdrew his candidature ahead of interviews with the executive on Sunday to select the initial slate to be put to members the following day.

Speaking on GBC’s Gibraltar Today, Mr Asquez raised concern about the democratic process in the party and said he had been told by Mr Picardo that he did not want him on his team.

According to his account, Mr Picardo had indicated he would consider standing down if Mr Asquez was selected for the slate and that, should he decide to stay, he would not give Mr Asquez a ministerial post if the alliance won the election.

The democratic process in the party “was broken”, Mr Asquez told GBC.

“Every candidate should have the chance to portray themselves and say what they do for the party and what they will do for the party,” he said.

“It should be a selective process where everyone has their chance, and I was stopped.”

Mr Asquez, a businessman, said he was considering standing as an independent candidate.

Mr Picardo described Mr Asquez as “a good organiser” and “a very important part of the executive”, but nonetheless not someone he believed should be a minister.

“I did not believe he had the qualities necessary to be in the Council of Ministers,” Mr Picardo told GBC after the members’ meeting on Monday night.

“And that was demonstrated by Allan, because in the Council of Ministers, we take decisions on the basis of collective responsibility.”

“We stick by our decisions together and we defend our decisions together.”

“He wouldn't accept what I was going to tell the executive committee, and he threw his membership card on the table and left.”

“I was right in thinking he should not be a minister.”

Mr Picardo said the membership had unanimously ratified the executive committee’s election slate and that “nobody has raised one voice against the candidates tonight”.

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