Always good to be woken up to the sound of chanting in the street as the election results start to be announced.
I went to vote early yesterday morning just after the (12) polling stations opened at 9am. There were police around, and a queue out of the door and down the street. I went back home and decided to go in the afternoon.
By about 3.15pm we walked straight in, with only a couple of people in front of us.
There were no polling cards and at the entrance there was a sign saying that you needed to produce an ID card, a passport or a driving licence.
I gave my card to the clerk, she found my name on the register and then read it out, and my address. Her colleague gave me the ballot sheet and off I went into the booth.
There were three parties – GSD, GSLP Liberal Alliance, and PDP. Each party fields up to ten candidates, and 17 are elected to Parliament.
I walked out to put my sheet in the box. The official in charge of the box keeps the slot covered with a sheet of card with the Gibraltar coat of arms on it. He checks your folded ballot sheet, and then moves the card aside for you to post your sheet inside the box. Two more officials were on duty to make sure everything was carried out correctly. It was all very professional.
And that was it. Polling closes at 10pm, and apparently you MUST get the ballot sheet by then. It’s no good if you are inside the station or in the queue, if you don’t have your sticky hands on the sheet by 10pm – you’ve missed your chance.
Opinion polls had put the GSLP ahead, and so did an exit poll by the GBC with a lead of approximately 8%.
Out of an electorate of 21,712, there were 17,915 voters – a total turn-out of 82.51%. Not something those of us from the UK are used to at all. The breakdown is 17,178 people voted in person, 82.28% and there were 835 postal voters, and 737 of those sent votes, 88.26%.
To me that is an impressive turn-out and is to the credit of the people of Gibraltar. And although it is 1% above the last election in 2007, it is below the ones in 2000 and 1996. Gibraltarians take their elections seriously.
The count takes place in John Mackintosh Hall, which is a stone’s throw from us, so usually we wake up to all the cheering and clapping. There were a few bursts of clapping during the night, but nothing to indicate who had won. I woke up a couple of times and had a quick look at the internet to see if there was any indication of the result.
At one point I read on Twitter that it was neck and neck and there would be a recount. Nerve-racking. The GSD (Gibraltar Social Democrats) have been in government for four consecutive terms, ie nearly 16 years. The big question was whether or not the main opposition party the GSLP (Gibraltar Socialist Labour Party) Liberal Alliance, under the new leadership of Fabian Picardo and with their slogan of ‘Time for change’, could oust the complacent GSD under Peter Caruana.
About 6.30am there was more chanting. We tried to work out what it was. ‘GSLP’ said Partner. ‘Are you going to go out and have a look?’ Who needs the internet when you can walk out into the street to find out what is happening first hand?
So I pulled on my jacket and boots and skipped outside into the dark. There were police up and down the street and a small crowd outside JM Hall. There were lots of flags, GSLP flags. ‘Have they won?’ I said pointing at the flag. ‘Yes, said a young man with a huge beam on his face. ‘We won.’
Note: I’ll add the official statistics later for the votes cast for candidates. (And some of the figures above have been amended after checking the govt press release).
The Gibraltar Government has issued an excellent press release with a statistical breakdown of votes cast by polling station, for each candidate, and a comparison of turnout with previous years. It’s available here.
But the short and simple stats are as follows:
GSLP/Liberals received 48.8% of the vote
GSD – 46.76%
PDP – 4.36%
In terms of numbers, that is
GSLP/Libs – 85414
GSD – 81721
PDP – 7622
Total votes cast – 174757
That’s a difference of 3693, if I have done my sums correctly. It is actually not the ‘some 300 voters’ claimed by the on-line Gib Chron. To extrapolate how many voters made the difference from the votes cast is not, to my mind, responsible journalism. Not everyone block votes, or necessarily votes for ten candidates. If they did, there would be ten GSLP/Libs at the top with the same votes cast, followed by ten GSD etc etc. And there would have been 179150 votes cast. There weren’t. Even if you divide 3693 by ten, you still end up with 370, aka nearly 400. Something tells me the Chron isn’t exactly pro-GSLP/Libs. Or that someone isn’t very good with stats.
Interestingly I nearly quoted the Chron article for my figures, as I was so surprised at their claim of 300 voters making the difference, but I decided to look for the official government stats. Just as well.
And our new ministers are:
Fabian Raymond Picardo 8781 votes
John Emmanuel Cortes 8706
Joseph John Garcia 8681
Gilbert Horace Licudi 8605
Joseph John Bossano 8598
Charles Arthur Bruzon 8518
Peter Richard Caruana 8515
Neil Francis Costa 8490
Daniel Anthony Feetham 8462
Steven Ernest Linares 8419
Samantha Jane Sacramento 8335
Isobel Marie Ellul-Hammond 8306
Paul John Balban 8281
Damon James Bossino 8281
Edwin Joseph Reyes 8165
James Joseph Netto 8139
Selwyn Matthew Figueras 8099
On a personal note, I think in politics it is always good to have more than two parties, so I commend the PDP for their efforts and think it is a shame they received such a low proportion of the votes cast. Especially as one would expect them to take votes from the GSD.
So am I pleased with the result? You bet. Congratulations to our new government and I wish you the very best for the next four years. On behalf of me, my partner, and all the other people who cast their votes for GSLP candidates.