My understanding is that each of the three main parties now support the tripartite process. The difference is that the GSD's policy is coherent, whether one supports it or not. The support of the process by the GSLP/Libs and the PDP is qualified. They criticise much of what has resulted, so far, from these discussions or claim to want to re-negotiate some. They do not make public what their support of the process is intended to result in. It is difficult to understand how a party can support a process of discussion with the attributes of the tripartite process yet not be committed to what, so obviously, it is aimed at.
Peter Caruana has eloquently described the process as serving " ... to contain problems ..." and "... as a piece of dialogue architecture where these continuing problems and serious continuing disputes ... can be discussed". He has said also that " ... it gives us a degree of contact with the Spanish Government ... it gives us the opportunity to manage these problems , to contain these problems in a way that serves better the wider interests of Gibraltar." It " ... has allowed us to to condemn bilateralism between Spain and UK about Gibraltar to history ... By playing a constructive part in the dialogue about Gibraltar's affairs we also obtain greater security ..."
But what and where do the GSD and Mr Caruana say the process will take Gibraltar? Again, it is best to quote Mr Caruana in answer to this question: " ... we are perfectly willing to explore possible formulas for a future acceptable to everyone, so long as people understand that the primary consideration is the wishes of the people of Gibraltar... Spain is free to raise the question of sovereignty as we are free to raise the question of self-determination ... nothing can be agreed which is not entirely acceptable to the Government and the people of Gibraltar. That is a very comfortable and safe position for Gibraltar to be in... it is hugely in Gibraltar's favour that our difficulties with Spain should be resolved. It is the obligation of every generation, without abandoning our legitimate rights and aspirations as a people, to try and leave a less problematic for our future generations than we have".
The circumstances that gave rise to the tripartite process were very opportune. The GSD, who favoured dialogue with Spain, was in power in Gibraltar. The PSOE who favoured dialogue to resolve many of Spain's separatist internal issues, like that of Catalonia and of the Basque country, was in power in Spain. Surely, it would have been very difficult for the Spanish Government to start dialogue to resolve internal separatist issues without taking an equally logical stance and being willing to enter a dialogue with Gibraltar?
One of the dynamics of dispute resolution is that, if you keep the parties in the dispute talking, usually the dispute will not worsen. Another dynamic is that, if discussions continue for long enough, an atmosphere of friendship and trust develops, which helps understanding and eventual resolution. These dynamics are well understood by diplomats. They are used all the time, one of the most publicised occasions, recently, is in Northern Ireland. The statements of Mr Caruana indicate that he understands and accepts these dynamics, safeguarding himself, politically, by the age old adage that any agreement is subject to the wishes of the people of Gibraltar.
What will happen if there is a change in government both in Gibraltar and in Spain to the two extremes? The GSLP/Libs in Gibraltar and the PP in Spain. If the process does not come to a grinding halt, the dynamics will continue to work. In Northern Ireland it was when the diametrically opposite poles joined the dialogue, that resolutions started to became a reality. Will it be the same in Gibraltar? That is why it is important for the GSLP/Libs and, indeed, the PDP, as they may well be a political force at some stage, to clarify their support of the process. Can it be any different from that of the GSD?