In Panorama on Monday Joe Garcia gave a fine forensic analysis as to why the chief minister might be opting for calling an election either before Christmas or shortly afterwards. Caruana is a wily fox and he would indeed be mad if the options laid out in that article were not being considered by him and his fellow GSD members.
Over the last year I have discussed the pending GSLP leadership change with members of the party. I have been assured that it will happen in the early part of next year so the new leader can be installed before a general election at the end of the year. But what if Caruana goes early I keep asking? To date I have yet to receive a satisfactory reply.
Joe Bossano signalled at the last election he would not contest another as leader and I believe him. However if the chief minister announced an election now the GSLP would be in turmoil. It would either have to have an internal election before turning its attention to the general election, a new leader could be shoe horned in – hardly an ideal solution - or Joe would carry on at the helm to after the election and then stand down, sometime.
Whenever the election is called the main issue should be the stewardship of Gibraltar’s affairs by the GSD since 1996. The public if the opinion polls can be believed had had enough of Caruana and the GSD and want a new government. The GSLP – Liberal alliance led by Fabian Picardo and Dr Joseph Garcia would offer the Rock a young yet experienced partnership. Equally another parliamentarian such as Gilbert Licudi could win the GSLP crown but the offering to the voters would be the same. If the GSLP went outside its MPs then we would have to see who was chosen to lead.
If it is Picardo or Licudi partnering Garcia then Caruana and the GSD would have their work cut out. The electorate has presumed that Bossano would be yesterday’s man by polling day so when asked who they would vote for have factored in his departure yet they still opted for the GSLP – Liberal coalition.
Bossano becomes an election issue if the chief minister moves quickly and leave the GSLP in turmoil with him still at the helm. Then Bossano and not the GSD’s record will be under the spotlight and that could prove fatal for the opposition coalition. I can see no reason why the GSLP cannot elect a new leader now - but if need be Bossano could lead the parliamentary team until the new man or woman has his or her feet under the table.
The GSD’s record in government has to be the issue and the attempts by the chief minister to wrap himself in the flag should fail miserably. First the GSLP and Liberals have been more outspoken than he in defending Gibraltar’s independence from Spain. In addition Caruana’s whole period in office has been dedicated to seeking accommodation with Spain through the Córdoba process and Trilaterals – that initiative now lies in ruins so trying to out Bossano Bossano won’t work.
Turning the heat on the Bossano issue would also deflect from the major problems within the GSD. Should Caruana run again or not? Will Montegriffo return? How many of the present government team will stand? Then there is the Feetham factor but that would take a whole article on its own.
(The above article appeared on October 20, 2010 in Panorama).