By Andre Bagoo Wednesday, October 23 2013
EXACTLY who will control the municipal corporation of Chaguanas was yesterday still up in the air as it emerged that Monday’s Local Government Elections likely resulted in a perfect deadlock between three parties: the People’s National Movement (PNM); the United National Congress (UNC) and the Independent Liberal Party (ILP).
The doors to the board-room which holds the 12-seat Chaguanas corporation remained firmly shut at Cumberbatch Street, Chaguanas, as the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) set about the task of formalising Monday’s results.
While it was hoped that the allocation of aldermen under the new system of proportional representation might have gone some way toward breaking the dead heat caused by a 3 - 3 - 2/PNM -UNC - ILP result in Monday’s election of councillors, in fact, once tabulation began by EBC officials, it became clear the aldermen allocation would not give one party a clear victory over the other.
So much so, that political party officials began to moot alternative ideas as to how to determine the winner.
“We may have to draw straws,” said the PNM’s general secretary Ashton Ford, as UNC deputy political leader Dr Suruj Rambachan also refused to rule out that idea.
There are eight councillors and four aldermen on the 12-seat corporation. On Monday, the PNM won three of the districts, entitling them to three of the eight councillors. These districts included: Enterprise North; Enterprise South; and Edinburgh/ Longdenville. The UNC won three: Cunupia; Felicity/ Endeavour; and Montrose. The ILP won two: Charlieville and Munroe Road. (The party won just three districts nationally, with a third at a separate corporation of Tunapuna/Piarco).
But in total, the ILP won the popular vote in the Chaguanas corporation. According to preliminary figures compiled by Newsday, the ILP took home 11,968 votes, the UNC 10,804 and the PNM 9,003.
Once the statutory quota (the total votes divided by four) is applied, the process results in one alderman for each of the three parties. The remaining alderman is allocated to the party with the greatest remaining surplus, in this case the ILP, with its lion’s share of votes. In this way, the ILP gets two aldermen and the other two parties one each. This takes the result to a deadlock of 4 - 4 - 4.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar was last night quoted as rejecting the suggestion of the UNC entering into any arrangement with the ILP to govern Chaguanas, a traditionally UNC corporation.
“I firmly believe that there should be no negotiations with criminals and so I will not negotiate with criminals,” she said in a television report. The UNC had campaigned heavily on the legal troubles on several of the ILP’s candidates, some of whom are before the courts.
There were other reports that ILP interim leader Jack Warner had been approached by one of the two other parties about an accommodation, however, based on the Prime Minister’s remarks it was unlikely that party was the UNC.
ILP deputy political leader Lyndira Oudit yesterday stated the ILP had had preliminary discussions on the issue and determined it would take each issue on a “case by case” approach.
“I think in each case the corporation’s decision will have to be taken on its own merit,” she said.
The use of drawing lots is not unprecedented in Local Government decision making. In 2003, the control of the Rio Claro/Mayaro Regional Corp-
oration was determined by this method after a tie between the UNC/PNM. A similar thing happened in 1999 at the Siparia Regional Corporation.
Oudit, however, rejected the idea of drawing straws.
“That is not a tenable position given the importance of the decisions made at such a corporation,” she said. In previous instances, the parties agreed that the drawing of lots would be binding.
At a press conference at Balisier House, Port-of-Spain on Monday night following the announcement of the election results, PNM political leader Dr Keith Rowley was asked whether the party would consider an accommodation with any other political party.
“We have taken no such decision,” Rowley replied. However Rowley, who is also Opposition Leader, stated, “We work with everybody in this country, black, yellow, green or blue, but we are a political party with confidence to stand on our own.” He said the PNM will work with anyone in the country at the Local Government level “in the interest of Trinidad and Tobago, once decency is the watchword.”
The Chaguanas Borough covers 59.65 square kilometres including the bustling urban centre of downtown Chaguanas, Montrose, Edinburgh Gardens, Lange Park, Felicity, Orchard Gardens, Endeavour, Enterprise, Long-
denville, Cunupia, and Carlsen Field. The corporation has been allocated $91 million in recurrent expenditure in the current Budget year.
Up to last night, the EBC continued the slow process of finalising results and collating allocations of aldermen under the new system.
The allocations are made based on the proportions of votes received by each party.
Under the provisions of the new legislation passed last month introducing the system, the EBC has four days within which to complete its calculations and to write to parties telling them how many aldermen are allocated to them.
Thereafter, the parties will have four days to respond to the EBC telling them which candidates on its published lists it would like to put forward.