Guyanese are not the only people to experience a delay in local government elections as Trinidad also experienced a long delay before tomorrow’s local elections. Just two weeks after Kamla Persad Bissessar won general elections in May, she announced the date for local elections. And on July 26, her party will win a landslide.
Trinidad has 14 local bodies or regional governments, as compared with ten for Guyana and as in Guyana the local governments are responsible for drainage, roads, building permits, etc., and only control matters within their boundaries. The 14 bodies have a combined 134 seats distributed in the regions based on population. The largest is Tunapuna with 15 seats while the smallest is Pt. Fortin and Rio Claro with six seats each. Unlike in Guyana where seats are allocated based on a PR system (percentage of votes won in the region), in Trinidad candidates win based on a plurality or most votes obtained in a seat (first past the post).
A NACTA poll conducted up to Friday evening showed Kamla’s Peoples Partnership ahead in 91 seats and the opposition PNM ahead in 31 seats. The remaining 12 seats are close with the PP having the edge in six of them.
This is a stunning reversal of political fortunes from the last (2003) local elections when the PNM won 82 seats to the UNC (PP) 42 seats. The UNC had controlled four regions while the PNM held 10. Ten seats have been added to the regions for this local election.
In terms of control of the regions, the PP is now ahead in 10 and the PNM ahead in two. The other two regions show a close fight with the PNM having the edge in one and the PP in one. A tie in both regions cannot be ruled out.
The PNM has lost ground in all 134 seats and could lose the key capital city of Port of Spain which will be a devastating blow having won it comfortably in the general elections.
The PNM also handily won the important Diego Martin seats in the general election but it could potentially change hands tomorrow. As in Guyana, people complain about infrastructure (drainage and roads), inadequate running water, flooding, mosquitoes, health matters, etc. saying they want better local governance.