The opposition United National Congress (UNC) in Trinidad holds leadership and party executive elections on Sunday. Unlike in other countries, party members as opposed to party delegates select the leadership and executives. Members vote directly for leadership and executives. There are some 90K members. But only dues paying members are entitled to vote.
The incumbent Kamla Persad Bissessar is seeking re-election and is heading a slate for the executive positions. Party members would prefer that Kamla retire gracefully and help oversee the revamping of the party.
But she wants to hold on to leadership.Kamla is being challenged by former Finance and Agriculture Minister Vasanth Bharath who is also putting up a slate against Kamla’ s. Bharath is endorsed by several former Ministers of government and actvists. But he faces a tough task in dethroning Kamla who enjoys the effects of incumbency.
The incumbent has almost all the party’s local government Councillors, some 70 of them, and all the Members of Parliament backing her, as well as Chairs and Mayors of seven local governments and many constituency party groups. She also has control of the election machinery and membership list. She has the advantages of incumbency, including funding, in her favor.
Based on interactions of analysts and Councillors and party activists, they overwhelmingly say the odds are in favor of Kamla to retain the post. However, Bharath will make a lot of gains though it is a long shot to topple Kamla.
There are allegations of election fraud and manipulation of the voters’ list.
A poll conducted shows that the UNC under its present composition cannot defeat the PNM. Party members want Kamla to retire to save it from further defeats. Prime Minister Keith Rowley won re-election last August and has maintained his support three months later.