Qualifying residency should be increased
to 3 years

From Commission on Democratic and Political Reform
Residency and external electors.
In Gibraltar, a person over the age of 18 is able to be included in the register of electors provided he is British, has permanently resided in Gibraltar during a continuous period of six ., months and intends to make Gibraltar his or her home.

There is already a fairly-widely held view in Gibraltar that the six months residence period is too liberal and allows persons who do not have a sufficient connection with Gibraltar, to vote.

We have considered the residency qualification at length including whether the period of residency to be eligible to be registered should be increased to a continuous period of 12 months.

There has been unanimous support from responders for an increase in the residency period which they agree is too short and suggestions range from a two years to a five years residency qualification.

We have been convinced by the strong arguments from responders for an increase in the residency period beyond 12 months and we have concluded that it should be increased to a continuous period of three years.

We have also considered the concerns of some Gibraltarians living abroad who are aggrieved because they can no longer vote in our elections and hold the view that they should be allowed to register and vote if they continue to keep close ties with or interest in Gibraltar.

There has been some support from responders for extending the franchise to persons who reside outside Gibraltar and who maintain tangible connections with Gibraltar.

We have concluded that the franchise should be extended to registered Gibraltarians who live outside Gibraltar for as long as they continue to keep close ties with or interest in Gibraltar.

Electoral systems

The Single Transferable Vote ("STV") under proportional representation, was the system adopted in Gibraltar in elections to the Legislative Council from 1951 to 1964. Concurrently, a Limited Vote ("LV") (i.e. what is colloquially referred to as a "block vote system") was in place in elections to the City Council. Following the 1969 Constitution, the present LV or "block vote system" was adopted for the House of Assembly elections. It remains in force to this day for elections to Parliament.

We have considered whether future general elections should continue using our present electoral system or adopt one of the other eleven systems in operation globally on which we invited views in the consultation paper. This is a matter of fundamental importance in the workings of our democratic system.

There have been varied views and suggestions from responders on the electoral systems. There is a slight majority supporting the retention of the present LV system because it is best suited to Gibraltar, has worked well and the electorate is familiar with it.

Other responders oppose the present system because it provides a winner takes all situation which, they maintain, promotes internecine conflicts. Furthermore, they affirm that our electoral system throws up two conflicting blocks which are so partisan that neither appears to see good in the other and, therefore, believe that the single transferable vote should be adopted.

We have had lengthy discussions on the electoral systems that were explained in detail in the consultation paper but we have been unable to reach a consensus view. Therefore we have decided to put forward the majority and minority conclusions for Parliament's consideration.

The majority of members of the Commission have concluded that the present LV system has, despite its deficiencies, served Gibraltar well over the years since its inception and should be retained.

Recommendation 36

We recommend that the Parliament Act should be amended to increase the qualifying residency period from a continuous period of six months to a continuous period of three years.

Recommendation 37

We recommend that the Parliament Act should be amended to extend the franchise to persons residing outside Gibraltar who are 18 years of age or over, who are registered as Gibraltarians under the Gibraltarian Status Act and who are-

(a) in permanent employment;

(b) actively involved in carrying on a business;

(c) exercising their profession; or

(d) in full time education; in Gibraltar.