Some years ago I wrote that when the colossi of Gibraltar politics, Peter Caruana and Joe Bossano, decided to call it a day it would cause major seismic change.
Well Joe Bossano has announced he will not lead his GSLP in to the elections expected in 2011. He founded the party and will be a player but he will not be the Rock’s next chief minister if the GSLP – Liberal coalition triumphs as present opinion polls indicate it will.
I presumed this would be the news, now I am not so sure. Joe Boss has delivered a GSLP in good shape to the next generation of leaders and the alliance with the Liberals has never been stronger. So maybe the news will be elsewhere.
Peter Caruana led his centre-right GSD to power in 1996 and has been a victor at the polls on four consecutive occasions. So surely he’ll go for a fifth victory or will he?
Gibraltar’s legendary leader, Sir Joshua Hassan, was a four term chief minister so Caruana has matched his record. If Caurana went for a fifth – and won – he would cement his place in the Rock’s history. Yet if he lost he’d be remembered more for that defeat than his victories.
So why should he pass up another attempt? Two opinion polls in the Chronicle and Panorama have suggested he would be defeated. Polling day is still a long way off but if the people of the Rock have decided it is time for a change there is little Caruana can do to stem that tide. Also the Bossano bogeyman will no longer be there to poke a stick at – the GSLP – Liberals will be led by a new generation of politicians – as Cameron and Clegg have demonstrated it can be an irresistible combination.
If Caruana did lose I doubt he would hang about to lead the loyal opposition as Bossano has. He’d rush off in his wig and gown to earn some dosh at the Bar.
Which of course leaves his GSD in a quandary. It had been assumed that his deputy Joe Holliday would be the man to take over but there have been suggestions he won’t be a candidate at the next elections even if Caruana fights on. This would open up a power battle within the GSD that could split the party asunder.
The minister of justice, Daniel Feetham, has ambitions to the top job. However a political carpet bagger he may be but also at heart he is a socialist. His father was a minister in one of Bossano’s administrations, Danny was a member of New Labour in the UK, joined the GSLP but stamped his foot when Bossano wouldn’t stand down, rushed off to form the Labour Party and after getting a bloody nose at the polls scampered off to be Caruana’s bag carrier before being elected at the last election.
Feetham joining the GSD and its merger with his Labour Party has already caused a split with several key members including political heavyweights Keith Azopardi and Nick Cruz going off to form the PDP. It is difficult to see Feetham leading a party whose core membership oppose everything he stands for. However if he tries and fails it could see the leaders of the struggling PDP and perhaps former deputy chief minister Peter Montegriffo returning to the GSD as soon as Caruana is out of the door.
I suspect whilst all eyes are currently on the GSLP it is the GSD where the action will be. I shall keep looking in both directions.