In a few earlier blogs and comments, I have suggested that Gibraltar is ready for a change of government. The reason that I have put forward in support of this view is that Peter Caruana has become bigger than the electorate. It is worth exploring available options but, before I become the subject of criticism on this point, I do not suggest that I have covered all possible options.
I have suggested ("The Quest for Good Governance") that change could come about by a reform of the electoral system. Such reform is not on the cards and so is improbable before the next election.
Before exploring other options, let me dispel some assumptions made about me, for example, I have been accused by several commentators that I am anti-GSD (if there is a party beyond Peter Caruana) and pro-GSLP/libs. First, I do not belong to any party. I was, about 20 years ago, a member of the GSLP. During their second term of office the GSLP behaved generally in an undemocratic fashion, exemplified at a personal level by its treatment of my law firm, Triay & Triay. I gave up my membership the GSLP at that time. Since then, I have remained independent of any political party. This reigns true to the present day. With this independence comes the freedom to explore options.
The available alternatives are limited, so my having come to the conclusion that Peter Caruana has grown larger than the electorate, what are the available choices or the choices that may become available for someone like me (and I believe that I am not alone in having to look for alternatives)?
If the GSD exists as a party at all beyond what Peter Caruana thinks, says and does, they could improve their chances by making acceptable changes within the party and offering the electorate a renewed GSD. One suggestion is that they should retrace their history and revert to their democratic roots, for example, by ridding themselves of those wrong practices that they so vociferously criticised the previous GSLP administration for adopting. I suggest that they read their own early manifestos and remind themselves of the fundamental promises they made to Gibraltar in this regard. If they do that, they may not even have to substitute Peter Caruana as leader. The difficulty of not doing so, however, is that they will have to climb a high mountain to convince many disaffected voters that there really has been a return by the GSD to its democratic roots.
In the absence of change within the GSD, the only two alternative parties offering themselves for election are the GSLP/Libs or the PDP as discussed in greater detail in an earlier blog ("GSD Supporters Mutiny") . The PDP are shown in recent polls not to be making any headway. If that remains the case, which is likely, then the only feasible alternative (in the absence of internal fundamental and not merely cosmetic changes within the GSD) to ensure a change is vote for the GSLP/Libs. They have a critical core of voters that makes it credible that they can get elected if there is small swing in voting patterns. Two main changes will improve their chances, first Joe Bossano standing for election but not as party leader. Second, if Fabian Picardo does take over as leader, an effort by him to disavow the public of a perception that he is not suitable for the post of Chief Minister.
There are other options. A new party coming to the fore. The likelihood of this is minimal in the time available between now and the next election. Even if one were to come about its chances of election success can only be measured by comparison with those of the PDP. What could be considered but would require a massive campaign starting very soon and, even in those circumstances with a very small chance of success, is for voters to be persuaded to split their vote by voting for the best candidates irrespective of their party allegiances. this would result in a hung Parliament, which would be a major catalyst for parliamentary and electoral reform. It is what is happening in the UK. We yet have to see how revolutionary any reforms that come of it in the UK really are. These are interesting times in the UK, which could be replicated in Gibraltar.