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T&T Local Gov’t Elections: PNM wins…Warner’s IPL fails

PNM-win1

The Opposition People’s National Movement continued this year’s victory streak in yesterday’s local government elections, winning eight regional corporations, including retaking five it had lost in the 2010 local government polls. “We have won this election, we are on the way to winning the general election...the Prime Minister should call the general election now, having lost her mandate,” PNM leader Keith Rowley said at 10 pm at Balisier House, Port-of-Spain.

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s People’s Partnership, though losing overall to the PNM, retained at least five UNC “heartland” corporations and staved off adversary Jack Warner’s Independent Liberal Party. “The UNC has retained its base,” a beaming Persad-Bissessar said at 9.30 pm, speaking alongside successful candidates in Siparia. “We’ve held our base. This isn’t a Government or Opposition victory, it’s a true people’s victory.”

This is the Partnership’s third successive defeat after the January Tobago House of Assembly election, which the PNM won, and the July Chaguanas West by-election won by Warner. Yesterday, however, Warner’s ILP, which failed to capture any corporations, won only two of the eight seats in the Chaguanas borough and his Felicity stronghold in Chaguanas West returned to the UNC. 

Of the remaining six Chaguanas seats, the PP and the PNM each took three. ILP chairman Robin Montano conceded overall defeat as early as 9 pm, saying, “The results show the country has retreated to tribalism...so we have failed. It’s clear from the results we didn’t win. But we’ll try again tomorrow.” Warner later said the ILP has become T&T’s third political force, is “here to stay” and would continue building.

The PNM, which last controlled corporations prior to 2010, yesterday returned to majority control in a trend established as early as 8.15 pm, when the party took the Diego Martin regional corporation. Former UNC corporation chairman Anthony Sammy conceded at that time.

Results by corporation
The PNM retained Port-of Spain, San Juan/Laventille and Point Fortin and re-took the corporations of Diego Martin, Tunapuna, Arima, Sangre Grande and San Fernando, which the PP won in 2010. The PNM also picked up seats and increased votes in what were traditionally non-PNM areas. Rowley particularly noted the PNM’s win in Chaguanas. The 11 corporations the PP won in 2010 fell to five: Penal/Debe, Siparia, Princes Town, Rio Claro/Mayaro, and Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo.

What next in Chaguanas?
The focus now falls on Chaguanas, where both the PP and PNM won three seats. The ILP, which won two seats, holds the balance of power there. ILP’s support yesterday came mainly from north Caroni. However, there was a swing back to the UNC in Felicity, which was Warner’s stronghold in Chaguanas West.

PNM public relations officer Faris Al-Rawi told the T&T Guardian that while the PP and the PNM picked up three seats each, the PNM received the most votes and therefore potentially could control the Chaguanas corporation. UNC party officials said there might be some “leveraging” for control of that corporation. But they didn’t believe the UNC would want to link with the ILP. 

On whether the ILP would form an alliance with the PNM, chairman Montano told the T&T Guardian, “If I had my way, the answer would be no. But the party hasn’t met on this. But as far as I’m concerned, I’d say no.”

Voting today in Point
While the PNM won seats in Point Fortin, last night’s outcome is minus results for two of the six polling stations in Point Fortin, after the Elections and Boundaries Commission suspended voting at a Guapo and a Mahaica polling station after finding a number of electors had voted using the wrong ballot papers. Voting will resume at the two stations today  from 6 am to 6 pm. 

EBC chief elections officer Ramesh Nanan said the procedure of doing the vote on another day was not unprecedented, since a similar incident occurred in the 2003 local government elections. The Movement for Social Justice failed to win any of the 16 seats among seven corporations the party contested. Nor did any of the two smaller parties or four independents who participated.

Elections by numbers 
Rain put a damper on yesterday’s elections, which saw a  very low voter turnout. Preliminary estimates put the turn-out  around 263,000 out of Trinidad’s 1,036, 721 electorate. EBC stated it would give an official figure today. After lines earlier in the morning at some venues, by 1.50 pm yesterday a 22 per cent turn out was reported in some places, with a surge in the evening. There was high police visibility throughout Trinidad for the exercise.

Preliminary figures indicated the PNM received approximately 116,000 votes nationally, to the PP’s 84,000 and the ILP, 62,000. The EBC’s Nanan said on the basis of last night’s results, the EBC will work out the allocation of the 56 aldermen for the respective corporations over the next three to four days using the mathematical formula under the new proportional representation system.

PNM preliminary figures

Arima: 7/7 seats
Diego Martin: 10/10
PoS: 12/12
San Fernando: 8/9
San Juan/Laventille: 12/13 
Sangre Grande: 5/8 
Tunapuna: 11/15
Point Fortin: 4/6 
(two more polling stations to vote today)