The outcome of the election was not surprising though heartbreaking to almost half the nation and welcomed by the other half. However, it is regrettable that the declaration of the election is delayed as a result of a request for a recount in several seats. It casts a stain on the recent electoral reputation of the country. The recount must be expedited so that a declaration and government formation can be done by Tuesday latest.
Parties have a right to request a recount. But a recount is usually undertaken when the margin of defeat is minimal, say a couple hundred votes. The closest margin is that of St. Joseph of about 800 votes – not even close. Every party knows the outcome of the elections at the close of voting or right after the count a few hours later. The recount would not significantly alter the results.
Every party was entitled to a polling agent at every PD. After the count of ballots, some two hours after voting, the polling agents would have gotten a copy of the statements of every PD which when added would reveal the outcome in every constituency. So by 10:00 PM, the parties would have known the outcome in every seat. No one should be pretentious and come up with flimsy excuses for a recount.
Contrary to what some may believe and presented in a news release, the President can’t swear in a Prime Minister and ask him or her to form a government unless there is a declaration and the head of state is officially given the results. A declaration is kept at bay until the recount is completed. The country is hurting because a government is urgently needed to address Covid and other problems.
The recount is delaying the inevitable. The outcome was predicted. Weeks before the election and even on the eve of voting, there was a general idea of the expected outcome from opinion polls; the election count mirrors those of polls. Six weeks before the elections, I found in the NACTA polls that the PNM was leading in 22 seats and UNC 19. It was the same on nomination day; voters didn’t approve of some candidates and UNC began to slip. Some nominees were unfit for office repelling voters. By the eve of the elections, the UNC was able to gain momentum. The PNM was leading in 20 and UNC 19 with two a toss up but leaning PNM, which seems to be the final outcome.
One surprise of the election was the gap between the two parties in the LaHorquetta and St. Joseph seats. The NACTA polls had them much closer although other polls had them wide apart. The Moruga verdict was not surprising as were Grande and Sando West.
Hardly anyone expected Tunapuna to change party hand. Even some UNC activists and candidates admitted that Esmond Forde was unbeatable because of his grounding with and servicing of constituents. No candidate was as popular as him. In praising Forde, UNC candidates were exposing their own failures and fault lines. Why could not they also service their constituents in government if not in opposition? All MPs should be like Forde – make yourself accessible to constituents; don’t change your phone number come Monday or stop answering the phone.
One candidate that impressed the most was Renuka Sagramsingh who contested St. Augustine. Everyone, including those who did not vote for her, praised her leadership skills, campaign style, and personality. She was the most pleasant candidate and also the most articulate and best speaker in the entire campaign in all 42 seats. If all candidates were like her, politics would be an honorable profession. She has a future in politics – was just in the wrong seat.