Marlene Hassan Nahon
A JOURNEY TO A BETTER DEMOCRACY
Gibraltar is a special place. A crossroads for civilisations through the ages, it has accumulated a wealth of history and culture that very few places in the world can match. Greeks, Phoenicians, Visigoths and Romans all passed this way, leaving testimony of their appreciation of this unique enclave. Once Moorish, then Spanish, now proudly British, Gibraltar has had two constants throughout its history: our beautiful rock and the diversity of culture happening around it.
Our community is a faithful reflection of this rich and diverse heritage, where people of all denominations live in peace and harmony. Creeds and traditions are expressed freely, cultures shared, languages spoken and merged. Our national identity is one that embraces those with diverse cultural roots, and our rock provides refuge for all those who bring joy and prosperity to our people.
Yes, Gibraltar is plural and diverse, with one exception; its politics.
We live in a time of change, particularly in the world of politics. I’d go as far as to say that politics has become a dirty word. I believe this is a problem we have to tackle immediately, by reinstating the links and affections once connecting politicians to the people they represent. We need to do this fast, because when people don’t believe in their politicians and institutions, the rules that guarantee our peace and conviviality can be challenged.
If politics becomes an affair only for an elite, people become disenfranchised, feel disconnected, uninformed about governmental action and unsure of their ability to make a difference. Within that dynamic, anger, polarisation and inequality grow, and our capacity for positive social change disappears. This is also happening in Gibraltar today, where Parliament has been taken over by an elite of corporate lawyers. The dominance of this demographic has brought with it not only disproportionate growth for a particular segment of our economy, but also a transformation of our political system. Parliamentary proceedings have taken on the form of courtroom exchanges, and the language has become less accessible to those not legally trained. This makes public scrutiny harder and pushes ordinary citizens away from politics. People are afraid of voicing criticisms for fear of being bombarded with legal letters and threats, which stifles public debate and, again, dilutes public accountability.
I’m not saying I have anything against male lawyers. My father was one, and I’m very proud of everything he achieved. The problem is that there is too much of the same influence in our politics, and that this is creating an economy that provides opportunity overwhelmingly in favour of one demographic. The Gibraltar business model has worked for some time, but it is high time we modernised it. This is what Together Gibraltar aims to do: spread opportunity, diversify our economy and create clean and modern power structures.
I only know one way to address this problem, and that is through better representation. And it’s not just me who believes this; countless studies show that the best way to fix inequalities is through better representation - case in point being Gibraltar´s equality agenda which, in a male dominated parliament, lags decades behind other western countries. People want a government that shares their values and priorities, that goes out of its way to listen to the members of the community. That is why I am proud to stand for election with a slate of 10 diverse individuals; five men and five women that represent many of the social and cultural sensibilities that make up our community.
We now ask you, the citizens of this proud and diverse community, to help us take the final step in this voyage. Our vision is one for a green, fair and democratic Gibraltar. A sustainable Gibraltar, free from corruption and nepotism, where everyone, not just an elite, has access to opportunity.
Socially, we’re already an example of respect and tolerance. Now it’s time to create a Gibraltar that is an example to the world in the levels of democracy, social justice and transparency of its politics.
This is our political manifesto, and these are our candidates. Our slate combines outstanding professional competencies with diverse experience of the lives of working Gibraltarians. We ask you to vote with hope and not with fear. We can make change happen if we work together.