T&T analysts see return to tribal politics

(Trinidad Express) The local government elections have marked a return to tribal politics, the burial of the Congress of the People (COP) and voter migration from the People’s Partnership to Jack Warner’s Independent Liberal Party (ILP) and the People’s National Movement (PNM).

Those were some of the conclusions of political scientists Dr Winford James and Dr Bishnu Ragoonath who were part of TV6’s post-election panel, along with Renelle White, last night.

Despite the tribal voting which led to the dominance of the PNM and the United National Congress (UNC) in the votes recorded, the political scientists agreed that the issue of proportional representation could affect how the aldermen seats would eventually be divided by the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) when the final votes were tallied.

“They could have won in the first part but the proportional representation system benefits the party that does not win,” explained James.

For the scientists, there were limitations to yesterday’s elections — conclusive numbers were not readily available, voters in Point Fortin had yet to cast their ballots, statistics on voter turnout — which is a decisive factor—had not yet been collated and just how much of the people who voted were actually  “discontented voters.”

James concluded that the results show the Partnership is losing its appeal and was “going out of Government and is unlikely to return” even as he predicted a victory for the PNM in the St Joseph by-election on November 4.

“Victory has a way of following victory,” he said.

He expressed concern that social agitation will now be the order of the day until the next general elections but that such agitation will come from within the bowels of the UNC.

The UNC, he concluded, has an obsession with its tribe.

“They won office because people migrated to support them but they are ruling as though that is not the case,” he stated.

In James’ view, the ILP had taken bread out of the UNC’s mouth.

Ragoonath noted that the UNC should be concerned about two things — the extent it is losing support from its primary base and the extent to which the PNM’s support is growing.

The political scientists insist that yesterday’s local government elections cemented Warner’s ILP as the country’s third party even as they consigned the COP to the political cemetery.

Ragoonath noted that the COP has lost most of its membership and its principled stance has long evaporated.

“The COP has not won a municipality which is a further burying of the COP. The COP has to fight for its own survival in the People’s Partnership,” he said.

James observed that the COP went into the Partnership and lost its identity. “They have to hold on to the skirt-tails of the UNC,” he said.

Ragoonath said rejuvenation is unlikely, as the Prakash Ramadhar-led party has lost most of its membership. Ragoonath concluded that Warner miscalculated the ILP’s hype and believed he should have stuck to the three corporations- Chaguanas, Tunapuna and Sangre Grande —  which he had originally claimed he would contest.

By going for the whole hog, he  watered down the concentration, said Ragoonath.


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