PNM grabs 8 corporations
By ANDRE BAGOO Tuesday, October 22 2013
THE PEOPLE’S National Movement (PNM) last night scored victory in the local government election, gaining ground from its performance in 2010 and in the process consigning a wipe-out of the Congress of the People (COP) and the Independent Liberal Party (ILP) while the United National Congress (UNC) held onto its power base, winning five corporations.
preliminary figures indicated the PNM took home eight of the 14 corporations, improving by five, on the three corporations it won in 2010 when the PP won 11 corporations (UNC 6, COP 5).
In addition to Port-of-Spain, Point Fortin and San Juan/Laventille, the PNM was projected to take back all the corporations it lost in the last election, namely: Arima, Diego Martin, San Fernando, Tunapuna/Piarco and Sangre Grande.
The UNC held on to its traditional strongholds winning five of the eight corporations in which it contested following an arrangement with coalition partners the COP and the National Joint Action Committee (NJAC). The UNC was projected to have won: Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo; Rio Claro/Mayaro; Princes Town; Penal/Debe and Siparia. The COP did not win a single corporation it contested while NJAC lost Point Fortin.
Jack Warner’s ILP was unable to replicate the success of the Chaguanas West bye-election on a national level and was rejected in each corporation it contested. However, the ILP presence was felt in terms of splitting of votes in the Chaguanas corporation, a traditional UNC corporation.
The eight-district corporation was projected to have gone 3-3-2 in favour of the UNC-PNM-ILP respectively. This means the two ILP councillors arguably stopped the UNC from an outright victory, opening the door to what could be a history-making PNM/UNC tie in UNC heartland.
How the allocation of aldermen under the novel proportional representation system will affect the dynamics in this tied corporation remains to be seen and will depend on the exact results which are expected to be finalised by the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) today. Up until 9 pm, labour party, the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ), had not recorded a single vote in at least four corporations it contested, according to figures coming in.
The historic election was the first to be conducted under a new system which sees proportional representation used to select aldermen. Under the provisions of the Municipal Corporations (Amendment) Act, passed in Parliament in September, the EBC will today begin the process of telling political parties how many aldermen they have been allocated and inviting them to submit their chosen names from among the lists of aldermen nominees submitted to the EBC and published a few weeks ago.
Newsday understands EBC commissioner Noel Kalicharan has been specially-delegated the task of today overseeing the novel aldermen process and is due to this morning begin informing political parties how many aldermen they have been allocated. The process will see a statutory formula applied once the results are finalised.
At Balisier House, PNM political leader Dr Keith Rowley last night said: “We have won. I want to thank almighty God because we placed our trust in God. We prayed a lot and we worked hard. To come from defeat to victory, these are very significant developments. Tonight, we the people of TT can take a pride in our country in that we are able to withstand the rigors of a very bruising campaign.... Great is the PNM! Great is the PNM!”
Rowley also told reporters, “I want to thank the young people who were involved in this campaign very much. By and large the PNM is very happy with the result and we look forward to greater things in the future. From the preliminary results it would appear as though we have won a number of corporations and made our presence felt in every corporation.”
At her Siparia constituency office, an upbeat Prime Minister and UNC political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar sang songs, kissed a baby, danced to tassa music and said, “I am heartened by the results tonight. President Obama lost his mid-term and came back to score a great victory. So do not despair. We have 18 months ahead of us. The way forward will be greater and victory will be waiting for us in 2015.”
In an apparent reference to the deadlocked situation at Chaguanas, Persad-Bissessar called on all parties to start working together. “I say tonight we must work together. I say tonight is a national celebration: a true people’s victory, not for the Government, not for the Opposition. It’s a people’s victory. Let us put aside the acrimony of the campaign of the last few weeks. I call on everybody to join hands in the interests of all.”
Persad-Bissessar gave a thumbs-up and declared four corporations already in the bag from as early as 8.50 pm at her Siparia constituency office. She then made her way to Rienzi Complex, Couva – UNC headquarters – where the mood was energetic as results continued to come in.
COP political leader Prakash Ramadhar, speaking at COP Operations Centre, Charlieville, appeared undeterred by the results.
“We are undeterred by any one election. We are not here for just this election, but we will be here for the next generation,” he said minutes, after 8 pm, even as it was becoming clear that the COP would not take home its corporations. A sombre-looking Jack Warner, interim political leader of the ILP arrived at ILP headquarters at Chaguanas about 9.30 pm. He was flanked by interim deputy political leader Anna Deonarine-Rampersad and chairman Robin Montano, who all appeared crestfallen.
EBC officials said they saw indications of a low turnout throughout the day, with a spike near the close of the polls. “I have just come back from spending time at a polling station in Diego Martin and things seem slow there,” said EBC chairman Dr Norbert Masson yesterday afternoon. “It seems as though that the big turnout which may have been anticipated may not have materialised. From what I saw today I did not see anything spectacular, especially given all of the hype that this would have been the mother of all local government elections.” Some estimated that about 200,000 voted, out of an electorate in excess of 1 million, meaning the turnout could hover around a record low of 20 percent when the final figures come in.