It was British premier Harold Wilson who coined the phrase a week is a long time in politics so it is a dangerous game trying to foretell what will be the situation in a year or 15 months time.
First we have a general election to face in Gibraltar. By this time next year Peter Caruana could have been elected for his fifth term, there may be a new GSD name at the helm, Fabian Picardo may have stormed home for the GSLP Liberal coalition or will it be another candidate yet to come forward?
Whoever is chief minister at the close of next year he (or she) will have just a few months in office before there are two major elections across the border in Spain. In March 2012 there will be a Spanish general election and another in Andalucía. Whilst Gibraltar has face the Partido Popular in government in Madrid the regional government in Sevilla has always been PSOE. Indeed Andalucía has always been considered to be a socialist fiefdom.
Yet that could be about to change. An opinion poll by IESA puts the Partido Popular under Javier Arenas on 46.8 per cent with PSOE trailing on 37.7. The far left IULV-CA takes 8.2 per cent, the Partido Andalucista 2.9 and the UPyD on 1.7 per cent.
Now if a week is a long time in politics then 15 months is an eternity but a 9.1 per cent lead takes some making up and the omens are not good as PSOE has lost 11.2 per cent of its support since the last Andalucía elections. Indeed if these figures held then the PP would rule the region with an absolute majority.
Despite the assurance of the chief minister Peter Caruana that he can deal with the PP the omens are not good. The PP nationally has been breathing fire on both Gibraltar and Morocco but it is arguable that the future Rajoy administration in Madrid will have many issues on its hands other than the Rock.
However the PP in Sevilla control the region up to the Gibraltar border and despite Caruana’s assurances he can work with the centre right party the evidence from La Línea’s mayor Alejandro Sánchez and the candidate for mayor in Algeciras, José Ignacio Landaluce – who is also a PP MP is not good. Indeed there is no evidence of the chief minister bonding or having a working relationship with either.
Of course in the past Gibraltar has faced down Franco so there is little that the PP can throw at the Rock that it cannot handle. However with the “friendly” socialists in power in Madrid and Sevilla since 2004 the going has been rough and it could be a whole lot rougher if the PP takes PSOE’s place.