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Wilson's Ramp in Gibraltar's Upper Town. The steps have been painted with the Union Flag ever since the referendum.

Gibraltar's first sovereignty referendum was held on 10 September 1967, in which Gibraltarian voters were asked whether they wished to either pass under Spanish sovereignty, with Gibraltarians keeping their British citizenship and a special status for Gibraltar within Spain; or remain under British sovereignty, with institutions of self-government.[1]



Upon the request of the resolution 2070 of the United Nations General Assembly (approved on 16 December 1965), the governments of Spain and the United Kingdom started formal talks on Gibraltar during 1966. On 18 May 1966, the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Fernando Castiella made a formal proposal to the UK Government comprising three clauses:[2][3]

  1. The cancellation of the Treaty of Utrecht and the subsequent return to Gibraltar to Spain.
  2. The presence of the British base in Gibraltar, its use being subject to a specific Anglo-Spanish agreement.
  3. A "Personal Statute" for Gibraltarians, under United Nations guarantee, protecting their cultural, social and economic interest in Gibraltar or anywhere else in Spain, including their British nationality. An "appropriate [..] administrative formula" should be also agreed.

The Spanish offer had little chance of being accepted by Gibraltarians.[citation needed] At that time, the Spanish claim was being made by the Francoist dictatorship which had arisen from a bloody civil war which did not allow its own citizens the civil liberties that the British government guaranteed to the Gibraltarians.[citation needed] Furthermore, the Spanish economy, though beginning to grow, was still very backward (especially compared to the living standard the Gibraltarians had achieved), while at the same time working class people across the frontier were living in a state of great poverty.[citation needed] Economic considerations aside, the idea of Spain participating in any way the sovereignty or government of The Rock was unacceptable to nearly all Gibraltarians.[citation needed]


A car painted to celebrate the results of the referendum.
Referendum Gate at Southport Gates in Charles V Wall, Gibraltar. Named to commemorate the referendum.

The options presented to Gibraltarians were:[4]

(a) To pass under Spanish sovereignty in accordance with the terms proposed by the Spanish Government to Her Majesty's Government on 18 May 1966; or

(b) Voluntarily to retain their link with Britain, with democratic local institutions and with Britain retaining its present responsibilities.

Option Votes[citation needed] % of vote
(a) 44 0.36%
(b) 12,138 99.19%
Spoiled ballots 55 0.45%
Total 12,237 100%

Gibraltarians voted by 12,138 to 44 to remain under British sovereignty.[5] A new constitution was passed in 1969.

Gibraltar National Day

Gibraltar National Day has been celebrated annually on 10 September since 1992 to commemorate Gibraltar's first sovereignty referendum of 1967.


  1. ^ Garcia, Joseph (1994). Gibraltar - The Making of a People. Gibraltar: Medsun. 
  2. ^ George Hills (1974). Rock of Contention. A History of Gibraltar. London: Robert Hale. pp. 456. ISBN 0-7091-4352-4. 
  3. ^ United Kingdom Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1966). Gibraltar talks with Spain (May-October 1966). Presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs by Command of Her Majesty. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office. pp. 36. 
  4. ^, p.208
  5. ^, p.208

See also



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