In order to ensure that the referendum was conducted fairly and that its result could not be dismissed, the Government of Gibraltar invited a panel of distinguished observers headed up by Gerald Kaufman MP.
The observers were extremely impressed with the organisation of the referendum and particularly welcome that the role of the observers was integral to the process, as distinct from the more passive role of observers in other elections.
The meticulous way in which votes were counted exceeded requirements and went beyond requirements adopted for UK elections and, although the observers accepted the need to ensure the integrity of the vote, this did create some delays.
The observers noted that the campaign, which preceded the referendum, was very one-sided. This, we accept, was not the result of the Government of Gibraltar or the political parties trying to stifle debate, but a consequence of the lack of support for the 'yes' option in the referendum.
We are pleased that Gibraltar Broadcasting Corporation made some efforts to seek contributions from people advocating a 'yes' vote and even invited statements from the British Government. Local papers also offered opportunities to those willing to support 'shared sovereignty'. From our discussion, including discussions with a 'yes' voter, we have no evidence to suggest that the 'yes' vote was artificially decreased through fears of intimidation.
The observers, with their varied experience of electoral procedures were impressed with the entire process of the referendum in Gibraltar. They concluded that the process was a model of sound democratic process.