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Thursday, 12 October 2023, 11:18
Gibraltarians are turning out en masse at 15 polling stations across the British overseas territory that opened at 9am this Thursday (12 October) for the Rock's general election.
Some 25,198 people can have their say on whether they want current Chief Minister and leader of the Gibraltar Socialist Labour Party (GSLP) Fabian Picardo to remain in place for a fourth term, or whether they opt for a change in government and vote in the conservative Keith Azopardi.
GSLP is repeating its alliance on the ballot papers with the Liberal Party of Gibraltar. Leader of the Liberals, Dr Joseph Garcia, is currently Deputy Chief Minister. The coalition of the two parties is known as GSLP/Libs. However, Keith Azopardi of Gibraltar Social Democrats (GSD) and leader of the opposition is looking to stop another term of the GSLP/Libs.
Voters will be able choose 10 candidates each from the list of 21 who are standing this time across all parties. Other than the main parties, there is one independent candidate. Almost half of existing members of parliament are standing down this time.
An opinion poll for the Gibraltar Chronicle and GBC last week showed the narrowest of margins between the two main political parties: the GSD had a slight lead of 49.18% against Picardo's group's 48.65%.
One of the key issues that has been thrown up during the election campaign is the Rock's future agreement with the EU following Brexit. Negotiations have stalled in recent months due to the early general elections in Spain and now in Gibraltar. "From our perspective, it's about who you want to conclude the Brexit negotiations with the EU," said Liberal leader and Deputy Chief Minister Joseph Garcia. "We are the ones who have been involved in the detail of every aspect of that negotiation and who are best placed to move forward," he added.
Meanwhile, Azopardi pointed out that his government is capable of tackling the complex negotiations. "I believe that if the GSD is elected to government, we have the competence to deal with these issues," he said. "It is up to the Gibraltarians to decide what to do on 12 October, but this should not be an issue or an obstacle to us not being elected," he added.
Polls will close at 10pm with the counting of votes expected to start at midnight and a possible result by 4am on Friday 13 October.
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