(Trinidad Guardian) The ruling People’s National Movement suffered an overall 8 per cent fall in support in Monday’s Local Government election compared with its position in the 2013 election, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said yesterday.
Rowley gave the figure during the post-Cabinet media briefing as he slammed the media for “misinformation” in its coverage of Monday’s election.
The PNM won seven corporations to the Opposition United National Congress’ six, with a tie for the Sangre Grande corporation.
Rowely said misinformation was fed to the media to distract from what was clearly a defeat of the Opposition.
“The entire coverage on Monday was based on misinformation fed to the media…people who didn’t want to face a defeat organised to do this – I must say they did a brilliant job of feeding misinformation,” he said.
Taking issue with reports of preliminary, estimated (unconfirmed ) voter turnout of 17 per cent, Rowley said data available to the PNM was that the voter turnout was 34 per cent. He said their information was also that the turnout figure was as high as 40 per cent.
Most areas were around 30 per cent, with the lowest turnout of 22 per cent and 23 per cent in Port-of -Spain and Diego Martin “where PNM won all seats,” he said.
“That being the case, it was a little aggravating to see the entire media corps accepting wrong information,” he said, noting the PNM was awaiting final results by the Election and Boundaries Commission, which are due to be released today.
The 34 per cent turnout figure PNM has data on, Rowley said, was “relatively normal” for a local government election.
“But it was put across on Monday, that this (election) was the lowest ever turnout — that’s plain not true; it’s an average turnout,” he said.
“In 2013 Local Government election the (turnout of 41 per cent) was unusual as we had a very unpopular government, and we had an exercised PNM anticipating general election – so we had a good turnout then.”
“There were times before when the LG turnout was in the 20s. …I’m not trying to tell you how to do your scrutiny and analysis. All I’m saying is let it be done on the basis of the data.”
He added, “What happened Monday was an embarrassment. I saw people on national television, not a scrap of paper in front of them, not a line of data — yet pontificating on data which was plainly wrong and attempting to hold the PNM to analysis on wrong data.”
Rowley said it wasn’t for him to tell the media how to run their business, “but if you’re going to comment about us, it’s not unreasonable for you to put to us correct information.”
Rowley said the PNM went into the election with 85 seats and won 82.
“But those who won 55 seats managed to get the media to say they won — I find that conversation a little convoluted…It’s not true the Opposition took 12 PNM seats.”
He added the PNM lost one seat and won new seats, including in south, which hadn’t been won in 24 years.