7-7 Dead heat

Gail Alexan­der, Trinidad and Tobago Guardian

A sev­en-sev­en tie re­sult for Peo­ple’s Na­tion­al Move­ment and Unit­ed Na­tion­al Con­gress!

That was the out­come of yes­ter­day’s Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Elec­tions where both par­ties held strong­holds. But the rul­ing PNM lost ground, in­clud­ing its bid for Siparia and the UNC gained ground in­clud­ing win­ning the cov­et­ed San­gre Grande cor­po­ra­tion.

At PNM’s Bal­isi­er House, Port-of-Spain head­quar­ters last night, Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley ex­pressed dis­ap­point­ment to me­dia per­son­nel when he spoke at a brief­ing around 10.45 pm.

Say­ing he wasn’t sur­prised at the out­come, Row­ley said it was a dif­fi­cult cam­paign and dif­fi­cult pe­ri­od of gov­er­nance.

“While we’re dis­ap­point­ed we didn’t pick up that par­tic­u­lar area —Siparia—we’re not sur­prised at the out­come and we’re very pleased we have in fact won the most seats and we’ve main­tained our po­si­tion in this man­ner,” he said.

He said PNM had won Ari­ma (7-0), Diego Mar­tin (10-0), Port-of-Spain (12-0), Point Fortin (6-0), San Fer­nan­do (6-3), Tu­na­puna/Pi­ar­co (11-5 ) and San Juan/Laven­tille (13-1).

While PNM picked a few seats in San Juan East and Barataria, Row­ley al­so ad­mit­ted to “drop­ping a few seats” and to dis­ap­point­ment at los­ing San­gre Grande. He said the PNM had “re­al­ly hoped to hold on to it” and he wasn’t great­ly sur­prised the par­ty hadn’t done re­al­ly well in some ar­eas.

The at­mos­phere at Bal­isi­er House was some­what sub­dued as ear­ly re­sults ar­rived. But ad­dress­ing some flag-wav­ing PN­Mites at Bal­isi­er House lat­er, Row­ley de­clared the PNM had won the elec­tion 74 seats to 65 and “no­body has beat­en us….”

In the 2016 LG poll, the PNM had won 83 seats and the UNC 54. Yes­ter­day’s re­sult showed that PNM got less seats than in 2016 and the UNC won more than it did then.

Cheer­ing UNC sup­port­ers wait­ed for Op­po­si­tion Leader Kam­la Per­sad-Bisses­sar at the Cou­va South Hall up to 11.51 pm. Ad­dress­ing them af­ter the long wait, she said the peo­ple had spo­ken and change was com­ing, start­ing yes­ter­day. She said the UNC had won the pop­u­lar vote. But she gave dif­fer­ent fig­ures to Row­ley’s on the num­ber of seats won.

Be­fore polls closed at 6 pm, Per­sad-Bisses­sar said UNC’s feed­back was that in most ar­eas there had been a steady stream of vot­ers. She said she saw that as a “pos­i­tive sign” that peo­ple were in­ter­est­ed in ex­er­cis­ing their right to vote and to elect rep­re­sen­ta­tives of their choice.

She’d said she was con­fi­dent “…The peo­ple will make the right choice in the elec­tion and send a clear mes­sage to the PNM that their in­com­pe­tence isn’t ac­cept­able, and they’re ready for change. I have al­ways said the voice of the peo­ple is the voice of God…”

The UNC showed an up­ward trend from 8.30 pm in strong­hold cor­po­ra­tions such as Ma­yaro/Rio Claro, Pe­nal/Debe, Princes Town and Ch­agua­nas which the par­ty won.

UNC held the Siparia cor­po­ra­tion which the PNM had tar­get­ed heav­i­ly and where some bound­ary changes oc­curred. The Op­po­si­tion al­so re­tained the Cou­va/Tabaquite/Tal­paro Cor­po­ra­tion, where there had been con­cerns about the Cal­i­for­nia/Pt Lisas seat which PNM al­so tar­get­ed.

How­ev­er, par­ty sup­port­ers were the most ju­bi­lant at tak­ing the cov­et­ed San­gre Grande cor­po­ra­tion from the PNM. Both had tied there in the 2016 LG elec­tions and PNM even­tu­al­ly took con­trol due to a de­cid­ing vote by the cor­po­ra­tion’s chair­man Ter­ry Ron­don.

UNC al­so picked up three seats on the for­mer­ly PNM- con­trolled San Fer­nan­do cor­po­ra­tion and in Tu­na­puna/Pi­ar­co. Last night, UNC gen­er­al sec­re­tary Dev Tan­coo said they would seek a re­count in the Co­coyea-Tarou­ba seat where the PNM won by one vote. He ac­knowl­edged the PNM may al­so seek a re­count in one of the En­ter­prise seats in Ch­agua­nas where the UNC won by a few votes.

The first PNM can­di­date to be de­clared vic­to­ri­ous at 8.06 pm, was the par­ty’s Cal­vary can­di­date in the Ari­ma cor­po­ra­tion – Je­niece Scott, a PNM Youth League officer.

PNM’s first de­clared cor­po­ra­tion win – ar­riv­ing be­fore 9 pm – was the Ari­ma cor­po­ra­tion. The par­ty de­clared the six seats in the Point Fortin cor­po­ra­tion just af­ter 9 pm. But signs that the PNM was los­ing San­gre Grande and Siparia emerged by 8.50 pm.

A to­tal of 1.079 mil­lion elec­tors were reg­is­tered for yes­ter­day’s Trinidad elec­tion. EBC of­fi­cials had said there had been a steady heavy turnout in Cen­tral ar­eas. There had been a 34.34 per cent vot­er turnout for the 2016 LG polls. EBC of­fi­cials didn’t re­spond last night on a pre­lim­i­nary vot­er turnout for yes­ter­day’s poll.

A to­tal of 338 can­di­dates con­test­ed the 139 seats in the 14 re­gion­al cor­po­ra­tion ar­eas. But the five small­er par­ties and eight In­de­pen­dents who al­so con­test­ed apart from the PNM and UNC – all lost, in­clud­ing Louis Lee Singh’s PPM.

Photo source: T&T Guardian