Friday, 2 December 2011

22,157 Gibraltarians to vote on December 8

Parliament: Who will sit where?
GIBRALTAR General Elections are to be held on December 8, and 22,157 people are allowed to vote - 1800 more than at the last elections in 2007. There will be twelve places at which to vote, and more urns, reflecting the increase in voters. Candidates are campaigning as we write (and as we sleep probably), and the rhetoric is heating up. The latest polls indicate a win for the Gibraltar Socialist Labour Party (GSLP)/Liberal Alliance but it will all be decided by, you guessed it, the Undecideds. Party loyalty is still present, certainly, but the general in-the-street feeling is that the Gibraltar Social Democrats (GSD), who have been in power since 1996, have 'outstayed their welcome', as someone said. To quote Julian Fenice, whose article appeared on ViewsHound, and, for those who don't know about these things, to learn something about how the Parliament of Gibraltar works:>>>
"The Gibraltar Parliament is composed of 17 members, with the Government usually formed of ten members of the same party. Voters are allowed to vote for a maximum of ten candidates, with the parties tending to present that number at election.

For the 2011 election at least, a party can technically gain a majority with seven members, with the rival parties gaining the remaining ten seats with either a 6/4 or 5/5 split. This would lead to an unworkable government, however, as the Opposition, when combined, would have a majority, thus rendering the government ineffective.

The same situation would occur should the majority party gain eight seats. Instead, to achieve an absolute majority, the leading party would have to gain nine seats, but even this would give them only the slimmest of margins over the Opposition; a party defection, or an unprecedented bye-election, could tip the scales in the opposite direction. Therefore, stable government can only be achieved with the 10-7 split that is now traditional of Gibraltarian parliaments (before the 2006 Constitution, the Assembly had 15 seats, usually formed of eight Government Ministers and seven Members of the Opposition).

While the Opposition may be made up of individuals from a number of parties, this is rarely the case, with those benches usually occupied by members of the same party (although bye-elections can change this, as was the case when both Chief Minister Peter Caruana and Liberal leader Dr Joseph Garcia were first elected to government). As a result, most parliamentary votes end up with a result of 10-7 or 17-0.

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