Keith Rowley is now demanding fresh elections and threatening to "isolate" the government by not cooperating on any issue of national importance.
That's not surprising and won't hurt anybody but Rowley. The governing coalition can continue to mange the affairs of state without Rowley and his team and, with a commanding majority of 29 to 12 in the House of Representatives and a majority in the Senate, it can pass bills, including the budget.
The bottom line is that Rowley can rant and rave as much as he likes, it is the Prime Minister alone who can determine if there is going to be an election before the date in 2015 when it is constitutionally due.
Contrary to the misinformation that some PNMites are spreading on the Internet, the president has no power to dissolve the Parliament unless so advised by the Prime Minister. The Parliament is dissolved after the conclusion of the fifth session, meaning on the fifth anniversary of the general election.
In the case of the present 10th Parliament, the date is May 24, 2015. That changes only if:
- the government fails to get majority support for a money bill (ex. the budget)
- the government is defeated on a confidence vote
- the PM decides (as Patrick Manning did in 2010) to call an early election to seek a fresh mandate
What this all means is that despite all the sound and fury there is not going to be a general election because none is due until after May 24, 2015. Rowley and the PNM know that and are trying to hoodwink the population into believing that they can force an early election.
"They do not deserve to be in office. They have betrayed the trust of the people of Trinidad and Tobago, they are stained and they are shamed and they must leave office. We are calling for elections now," Rowley told reporters at a media conference Friday.
Regardless of the propaganda from the PNM Kamla remains fully in control of her government and enjoys the confidence of the Parliament.
Of course, Rowley has the option of embarrassing himself and the PNM again by seeking another confidence vote in the Parliament. For now, he needs to understand that bringing out his party faithful and union friends on the street to deliver a useless petition the president does not amount to a loss of confidence in the government.
What Rowley should be asking is whether he has the confidence of his own party. Even is he had 25,000 people on the street on Tuesday as the PNM claims, that still does not represent a majority of citizens who are opposed to the government. That's an average of 610 persons per constituency.
For the records, 432,026 citizens voted for the People's Partnership coalition, which included members of the PNM. So Rowley has no moral right to demand an election especially since the PNM fell on its damning record of corruption, cronyism and disdain for the people. Rowley himself condemned his party.
|2010 general election map, showing PNM support in red|
|People's Partnership Coalition||432,026||59.81||29|
|People's National Movement||285,354||39.50||12|
|New National Vision||1,998||0.27||0|
|Total valid (turnout 69.45%)||719,727||100.00||41|
Kamla Persad-Bissessar showed leadership on the Section 34 issue and the people, unlike the PNM, are ready to move on.
Rowley is hoping that Kamla and the PP would take his bait and call an election. But Kamla is not that stupid.
However I would wager that if she were to call Rowley's bluff and go back to the people she would win another majority and Rowley would be out of a job, which is something the top brass in the PNM might welcome.
For now if Rowley is serious about wanting to lead a national government some day he should focus on securing the confidence of his own MPs and dealing with real national issues, like the budget that is coming in the next few days.
And if he is really eager to have an electoral fight he should tell Orville London to set the date for the Tobago House of Assembly election, which is due in the next few months.
If he is still the leader of the PNM after that election, Kamla and her PP team would fight him on the electoral battlefield in the 2013 Local Government Election. Unlike the PNM, Kamla calls elections when they are due.
Jai Parasram | 22 September 2012