Opposition major winner in midterm Trinidad elections
Bert Wilkinson | 10/24/2013, 6 a.m.
Trinidadians went to polling stations to vote in midterm municipal elections on Monday and the results which gave the main opposition party an overwhelming victory should sound a clear warning to the corruption-tainted governing People’s Partnership Administration of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar with general elections less than two years away analysts say.
The People’s National Movement (PNM) of Opposition Leader Keith Rowley carted away eight of the 14 municipal corporations compared to five for the United National Congress (UNC) which is the main player in the multiparty coalition government. Its jubilant supporters partied away into the night as the results clearly vindicated a slew of predictions from opinion pollsters in recent weeks.
One other party, the recently-formed Independent Liberal Party (ILP) of former coalition National Security Minister Austin Jack Warner won individual seats on municipal councils but the Congress of the People (COP) which was the second most important party in the governing grouping was completely vanquished and will likely operate with diminishing clout and respect in the cabinet and other institutions of state in the future.
The elections was the third one of major importance held in the oil and gas-rich, twin-island republic with Tobago this year and comes less than two weeks before a fourth- a major by or special election- in a key constituency to fill a seat left vacant by a former government minister who retired from the political game a few weeks ago.
So far the government side has lost every single one but hopes are high that it might retain the St. Joseph’s constituency. Should it fail to do so through victory for the PNM or the ILP, these would be ominous warning signs from the electorate as to which party will form the government in mid 2015 when general elections are due.
For her part, the prime minister urged supporters not to interpret the PNM’s victory as a loss pointing to the fact the partnership had been able to hold on to its base districts, meaning its support in those areas remain solid rather than diminished.
“The greatest challenge was in Chaguanas. Guess what: we did not lose. Seeing those results this evening we have held our base in all our areas. I concede San Juan/Laventille. We never won that, but I’ll tell you what, we won our UNC seats in that corporation,” said a jubilant prime minister, relieved that the party was not embarrassed, particularly at the hands of the IPL with Warner having quit the cabinet just about six months ago to form his own outfit.
Rowley on the other hand noted that “we planned our course, we stayed our course and we did not engage in the indecencies of the others. And all of Trinidad and Tobago has rejected the entreaties of indecency. It doesn’t matter who we are up against. The PNM expects to come out with a victory”.
The ILP’s Warner seem content that his party has replaced the COP as the third major political force and has vowed it will one day form the government. End/bw