The head of the Gibraltar government on Monday dissolved parliament and called elections for October 17 to prepare the tiny British territory situated off Spain's southernmost tip for Brexit, currently planned for October 31.
"Gibraltar will need strong and stable leadership in view of Brexit, particularly if there is also an election in the United Kingdom and Spain," a country gridlocked politically for nearly five months, Fabian Picardo, elected for a second time in 2015, declared.
Local parliamentary elections for 17 seats, held every four years, must take place before the year's end but no date had yet been set.
In 2016, Gibraltar voted by a large majority in favour of the UK remaining in the EU.
"We do not wish to leave the EU but if we leave, and it doesn't much matter how we do, we are ready," Picardo, whose socialist workers' party has governed in coalition with the liberals since 2011, assured.
[caption id="attachment_68528" align="alignnone" width="600"] Credit: © Belga[/caption]
Should the United Kingdom leave without an agreement, Gibraltar's 30,000 inhabitants could be very adversely affected by the re-establishment of controls at the border with Spain.
Thanks to its tax advantages, Gibraltar has a flourishing economy, notably supported by its gaming companies and on-line betting.
The date of the elections in Gibraltar coincides with the start of a two-day summit in Brussels that could be the last chance of finalising a fresh agreement between the EU and London before the date of October 31 set for Brexit.
The Brussels Times