J. A. Guerrero / SUR
Friday, 20 October 2023, 12:07
The people of Gibraltar voted on their next parliament and its seventeen seats on Thursday last week and chose continuity over change. The current government coalition between the Socialists led by Fabian Picardo and the Liberals led by Joseph Garcia has secured a fourth consecutive term in the most closely contested elections in decades.
The GSLP-Liberals Alliance received 49.9% of the votes compared to the 48.2% gained by the centre-right Gibraltar Social Democrats, led by Keith Azopardi, who represented change after twelve uninterrupted years of Picardo as chief minister of the Rock. As predicted by the polls, independent Robert Vasquez, the third candidate in the race, failed to secure a seat in the parliament.
In the end the governing coalition won nine out of the 17 seats at stake, while the remaining eight will be held by the members of the Azopardi's GSD.
Earlier this week Fabian Picardo announced the ministers who now make up his government: Joseph Garcia (Deputy Chief Minister); Leslie Bruzon (Minister for Industrial Relations, Civil Contingencies and Sport); Nigel Feetham KC (Minister for Justice, Trade and Industry); Gemma Arias Vasquez (Minister for Health, Care and Business); Christian Santos (Minister for Equality, Employment, Culture and Tourism); Pat Orfila (Minister for Housing); Professor John Cortes MBE (Minister for Education, the Environment and Climate Change); and Sir Joe Bossano KCMG (Minister for Inward Investment and the Savings Bank).
In his acceptance speech in John Mackintosh Hall on Friday, Picardo thanked the people of Gibraltar for their support and promised democratic reforms, transparency on government-owned assets and public spending, to build more houses and to improve the health service. He also promised to continue to invest in education.
"Things will change," he said. "Not only will there be five new ministers, it is also true that the way that ministers do things must change and adapt to and change we will. We will consider even further democratic reform, although we have delivered more democratic reform in the past 12 years than any party in our history, but we are not afraid of changing and delivering more. And we will.
"To avoid it being suggested that there is anything to hide, because there isn't, I'm giving a direction to the Financial Secretary of the Government of Gibraltar that the accounts of all government companies showing their assets and liabilities shall be published online from the 1st of April this year.
"There shall be reform in other areas too, because we campaigned as a team of experience, continuity and change and change there will be. In housing, our mandate is not to continue as we were. It is to go further, to reform and to build more and build more we will. On health, our mandate is to make the health service more responsive to the citizen and more responsive it will be. On education, our mandate is to continue to invest in our children and invest in our children we will. Our mandate is not to stop. It is not to review. It is not to audit. It is to do and do we will. But the administration as a whole must change to respond better to the needs of the citizen," said Picardo.
He finished with a message to Spain's acting PM Sánchez saying, "Pedro, it is time now that you too should form a government and that together we should finish the treaty that we started."
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