RESIDENTS of the British enclave of Gibraltar will be crossing their fingers as tomorrow’s election promises to have some impact on how the Spanish government treats the territory.
A hardening of attitudes has taken place since the Popular Party (PP) took control in Madrid, with the conservative party reneging on the Trilateral Forum for Dialogue which had seen a marked thawing in the relationship between Spain and the UK over the disputed region.
In four years of PP rule a number of issues have cropped up with strict border controls, additional fees, investigations into property held on the mainland, and incursions into territorial waters, all indicating a tougher Spanish position, much to the chagrin of Gibraltar residents.
With the elections suggesting either a minority government for the PP, or a likely coalition between them and other parties, the results will clearly demand the emergence of a Spanish government with much larger battles to engage in than this dispute, which is not a matter of priority for the vast majority of Spaniards.
The British overseas territory was captured in 1704 during the War of Spanish Succession and has remained in British hands since. In a 2002 referendum Gibraltarians rejected a proposal for joint sovereignty under Britain and Spain.