The following is a REPORT on Indo-Caribbean Diaspora News (ICDN) public ZOOM meeting on Sunday night (16/8/20) on the topic “Why did the PNM win and UNC lose the general election in Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) on August 10th? What is expected in the next five years?” The meeting was moderated by Dr Kumar Mahabir.
The speakers were GIDEON HANOOMANSINGH, DR INDIRA RAMPERSAD and ATTORNEY VASHISH MAHARAJ who substituted for DEVANT MAHARAJ,
There were 89 persons in the virtual meeting, 70% of them came from other parts of the world including India, Fiji, Mauritius, South Africa, UK, Canada, USA, Guyana and Suriname.
MAHARAJ essentially said:
The defeat of the United National Congress (UNC) in the marginal seats is as a result of an ill-informed and politically naïve campaign. The first weakness was the failure to understand and address the effects of the structural changes made by the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) in the Review of Constituency Boundaries dated the 14th March 2019.
The second was taking the party’s support base for granted. The latter informed the campaign strategy employed in the marginal constituencies. This campaign strategy is based on a false narrative, that an Afro-Trinidadian candidate would attract otherwise unwilling Afro Trinidad support. The political reality is that this strategy has historically failed to attract support and alienates your traditional support base.
HANOOMANSINGH said, in part:
“A good question could be why did the UNC allow – what many termed – the worst People’s National Movement (PNM) government ever to win the 2020 elections?
The UNC’s call to “Open the Borders” was insensitive and when it backfired, its leader explained what she meant – and added salt to the wound – by talking about SLAVERY & INDENTURESHIP. The medical fraternity was mad with her for that statement. The other side was asking, “Can we trust them with our health?”
The UNC gave hope in its manifesto but the wish list seemed unachievable in light of COVID and its lingering impact on economic growth.
The UNC never recovered from the barrage of accusations about corruption when it led the Partnership’s coalition: The Barry cheques to then Prime Minster, now UNC Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar, the timing of the EMBD Court decision, the Banana Handouts, the unfortunate BLANK word that the PNM made into BLACK, the reference to UTC and NIB funds in the middle of a campaign that heaped serious Thievery and Corruption allegations on the Opposition leader.
Poor Candidate choices: Constituency Executives did not choose candidates. Kamla Persad Bissessar selected loyalists.
Say what you want, former UNC MP Ramona Ramdial had a presence among the distressed in her constituency. She was vocal on Tobago issues. She responded to the grief of the fisher folk. She could have been retained, somewhere. Who was advising the opposition leader on these statements.
Look at all UNC candidate banners. That didn’t work in 2015. It didn’t work in 2020. To say that the UNC did so well is to live in a world of denial when VICTORY is the prize in any election.
Yes, the UNC has a right to request recounts but not in constituencies where the margin of victory is wide.
Persad-Bissessar must not allow herself to become another Basdeo Panday, hanging on to leadership. She had a quarter of a century in the Parliament. Her contribution is there for the world to see. It’s an enviable record on which future Parliamentarians and students of politics will draw.
I make these observations not as an expert but a voter interested in the welfare of my beloved country. Some may not like to hear this this but we’ve had three opportunities to prove to the naysayers that we are not interlopers and we’ve squandered all.”
Dr. Rampersad vindicated herself in her recent call for international election observers in this forum in light of the claims by candidates of irregularities both during the election and during the recount.
She noted the advantage of incumbency with regard to media space and proceeded to analyse the data of the preliminary election results. She concluded that the PNM received much less votes in the 2020 elections compared to 2015 and also received less votes in all the marginals in 2020 compared to 2015 than the UNC.
She noted that the UNC won 19 seats out of 39 and the PNM 22 out 41. She also observed that the PNM won the election by 13, 062 votes and will form a minority government with 49 % of the votes compared to 51% by all other parties combined.
She called for an audit of the electoral list which records an electorate of 1,134,135 in 2020 in a population of 1.3 million. She presented the data of the poor performance of the small parties and contended that there was no viable option with which the UNC could form a coalition.
Dr Mahabir is an anthropologist who has published 11 books.
Please see attached photo of Dr. Mahabir
Correspondence – Dr. Kumar Mahabir, San Juan, Trinidad and Tobago, Caribbean.
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