The first is the use of cabinet government, which in the 2006 Constitution is referred to as the Council of Ministers. The electoral system is intended to elect a government, not a President. Yet the system, ever since the days of Sir Joshua Hassan, always defaults to government by the Chief Minister. One reason for this occurring is the ineffectiveness of other Ministers. They do not yield their power over any incumbent Chief Minister. Their power lies in their individual or collective ability to either depose their leader (and so the Chief Minister) or, in more extreme situations, force the fall of a government, leading to an election.
The fact that Ministers invariably avoid using their power shows them up as weak, ineffectual and self interested. Self interested because this benign behaviour, epitomised by deference to one individual, owes its existence to both the ego of each minister and their interest in retaining their highly paid positions. Ego because, seemingly, they each enjoy their positions, their title and their preeminence too much to risk it by rocking the boat. Salary, because how many of the incumbents to ministerial positions over the past 20 odd years or more would have earned as much in other employment?
Secondly, the encroachment by Ministers, especially in the period of the GSLP and the GSD governments, into the administrative arena as opposed to staying within their political remit. This unfortunate cross-over is adverse to good governance. The ease in which this happens is worrying. The Civil Service has its General Orders and exists to give effect to the rule of law. General Orders and the law provide a framework to safeguard the independence of Civil Servants. Why the Civil Service permit the encroachment to occur is unknown but the symptoms are obvious. The cure is easy to prescribe, put the Minister in his place. The reality is that it is more difficult or nigh on impossible in practice. A good start might be for promotion in the Civil Service to be structured in a manner that their role is better learnt and understood but faced with a powerful individual as Chief Minister, the difficulties are obvious.
The failings in the system can be identified. Implementing solutions without attacking one fundamental is difficult. This fundamental is the undermining of the stability and comfort of any Chief Minister by weakening his ability to retain power. This objective can be achieved through electoral reform. A reversion (because it is that system that has existed in Gibraltar in the past and has delivered good government) to a system of Proportional Representation is an answer.
A new electoral system will increase the chances of multi-party government by maximising the chances of the election of candidates from more parties and of independents. The inherent instability that such sharing of power builds into a government would, in a place the size of Gibraltar, not be detrimental to strong and effective governance. In fact it would be beneficial. It reduces the concentration of power in one individual by compelling the sharing of power amongst Ministers. Cabinet government will become the only way to govern. One additional benefit of undermining the concentration of power in one person is that it will revive the ability of the Civil Service to administer Gibraltar according to the law.
Proportional representation will help destroy the politics of personality and encourage issue based voting. Each cross on a ballot paper will carry weight rather than (as under the present system) all of them being a vote for one person to be Chief Minister. This process of democratisation can deliver better government and administration.