Monday, 7th December 2015

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Spain’s political parties set out manifesto commitments on Gibraltar

Three of the four main parties contesting Spain’s general election on December 20 make specific references to Gibraltar in their electoral manifestos.

 With the election campaign officially launched last Friday, Spain’s main parties differ in the language used and in their approach to issues such as dialogue with Gibraltar.

In short paragraphs included in wide-ranging policy documents, the Partido Popular and PSOE commit to continue claiming sovereignty over the Rock. Ciudadanos meanwhile speaks of decolonisation through dialogue with Britain.

Left wing upstart party Podemos makes no reference to Gibraltar in its policy document but talks of a crackdown on tax havens.

The firmest language unsurprisingly comes from Mariano Rajoy’s Partido Popular, which said it would continue to fight for Spain’s “legitimate claim” over Gibraltar in the United Nations.

The party’s manifesto called for Gibraltar to be returned to Spain under the principle of territorial integrity and urged the UK to engage in bilateral talks to that end.

But the document added that the party remained open to cross-border dialogue on practical matters and included an explicit reference to ad hoc dialogue.

“We will remain willing to implement a mechanism of ad hoc regional cooperation in which is represented, in addition to the UK and Spain, the local Government of Gibraltar, the Mancomunidad de Municipios in the Campo de Gibralta, the Junta de Andalucía and the European Commission as an observer.”

Sr Rajoy is due to visit Algeciras today, where he will call on Algeciras mayor José Ignacio Landaluce and participate in a rally.

A PSOE government would also “claim the sovereignty of Gibraltar”, according to the party’s manifesto, but it would also seek dialogue in doing so.

The PSOE has in the past stated that it would consider a return to the trilateral forum for dialogue.

Although there was no reference to this in the manifesto, the party said it would “…favour the agreed channels and forums to resolve any problems of coexistence [and] to that aim, would maintain an Instituto Cervantes on the Rock.”

The local branch of the Instituto Cervantes was opened as a result of the Cordoba agreement reached under the trilateral forum, but was closed on instruction from the PP’s Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo.

PSOE leader Pedro Sánchez has already visited Algeciras in the run-up to the election, but did not comment on Gibraltar focusing instead on the port and the need for additional transport infrastructure.

The third party to make a specific reference to Gibraltar in its manifesto is Ciudadanos, which is vying with the PSOE to be Spain’s second political force and, according to recent polls, could potentially end up as the kingmaker in a divided parliament.

In its manifesto, Ciudadanos said it aimed for “…decolonisation through dialogue with the United Kingdom…”, while also seeking cooperation on common challenges such as drug trafficking, clandestine migration and the environment.

The party led by Albert Rivera also highlights the geostrategic importance of the Strait of Gibraltar and includes commitments to working with other EU countries to tackle tax evasion and money laundering, including specific measures aimed at “tax havens”.

A similar message is included by Podemos in its manifesto, although the left wing party led by Pablo Iglesias makes no specific mention of Gibraltar in the document.

It sets out plans to promote measures against “tax havens” including drawing up a blacklist.

Although there is no mention of Gibraltar in the document, some Podemos officials have spoken out in the past on the need for dialogue and normal cross-border relations.



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