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Political development

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Political development


During the Second World War, the bulk of Gibraltar’s civilian population was evacuated to facilitate military activities. An initial evacuation to French Morocco was terminated after a few months due to the deterioration of relations between Britain and the Vichy Government of France. The civilians were then re-evacuated to Britain, Jamaica and Madeira, though some went to Tangier and Spain of their own volition. Repatriation began in 1944, but due to accommodation difficulties in Gibraltar, the last repatriates did not return until 1951.
The experience gained by evacuees in their fight for better conditions for themselves and their compatriots gave a substantial impetus to the demand for greater self-government in the colony. The Association for the Advancement of Civil Rights was formed at the end of 1942 and in 1945 the City Council was reconstituted, for the first time with an elected majority.
The governor’s monopoly of legislative authority ended five years later, with the formation of a legislative council, and subsequent amendments allowed for a majority of elected members.
The post-war years were also marked by expansion and progress in social and economic spheres. Medical, educational, housing and social security services were developed.
The building of an airfield on the isthmus, the great construction achievement of World War Two, was to have lasting repercussions in peacetime. It is now used extensively by civilian operators and, combined with expanding land and sea travel facilities, has made Gibraltar a Mediterranean centre of communications between Europe and Africa. It also helped make tourism an important pillar of the Rock’s economy.