The Government has announced a number of events that will take place in order to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1967 referendum. This was the first time that the people of Gibraltar were given the choice to remain British or to come under Spanish sovereignty.
On 14 June 1967, UK Minister of State at the Commonwealth Office Judith Hart told the Westminster Parliament that a referendum would be held in Gibraltar on 10 September that year. There would be two options on the ballot paper open to the people of Gibraltar. The first to pass under Spanish sovereignty in accordance with the terms proposed by the Spanish Government to Her Majesty’s Government on 18 May 1966. The second choice was to voluntarily retain the link with Britain, with democratic local institutions and with Britain retaining its existing responsibilities.
There will be an exhibition at the Casemates galleries which will open on 14 June this year. This will mark 50 years to the day when the United Kingdom Government announced that a referendum would take place in Gibraltar. The exhibition is being organised by the Government Archivist, who already holds a considerable number of media news reels, press cuttings and photographs of the time. However, members of the public who hold photographs, footage and memorabilia which relate to the 1967 referendum which may be suitable for
displaying during the exhibition are invited to come forward and contact the Archivist on 20079461 so that an initial assessment can be made.
The exhibition will run until the first week of July and will be followed later in the year by a memorial event and concert. This is intended to bring together both the lighter and the more serious political message of the time.
There will be special coins minted to mark the 50th anniversary of the referendum and a set of stamps will also be issued.
A project is already in the pipeline, in conjunction with residents, for the repainting of the steps at Devil’s Gap in red, white and blue. This part of Gibraltar was an emblematic representation of the spontaneous actions taken by the people of Gibraltar to decorate the areas in which they lived in the colours of the Union Jack.
A commemorative booklet, similar to the one issued to mark the 75th anniversary of the Evacuation in 2015, will also be published and distributed to schools around Gibraltar in order to highlight the anniversary of this important event.
The Deputy Chief Minister Dr Joseph Garcia said:
“The referendum took place on 10 September 1967. On a turnout of 95.8%, 12,138 people voted to remain British and only 44 voted for Gibraltar to become a part of Spain. This was the first time that the Gibraltarians had been given the choice and encouraged to exercise it. They spoke with devastating clarity.
The referendum represented, at a symbolic level, that fact that British sovereignty over Gibraltar had come to rest on the living wishes of the descendants of the people who had lived on this Rock since 1704. The 10 September was later chosen as the date for Gibraltar National Day because it marks the anniversary of the day on which this referendum took place. This year promises to be extraspecial.”