|File: PM Kamla Persad-Bissesssar and Jack Warner |
when Warner was chairman of the UNC and a member of the T&T cabinet
The result of the local government election on October 21 gave three seats each in Chaguanas to the UNC and the People's National Movement (PNM). The ILP won two seats but got the highest number of votes.
This means that when the seats of Aldermen are allocated the ILP will get two and the two other parties, one each. That would create a tie at 4 seats for each party, making it difficult to appoint a mayor or deputy mayor unless there is some kind of agreement between two of the parties.
So far only Warner appears willing to do a deal and he is looking to his former political home, the UNC, which is the logical place because he has always said he won't do any business with the PNM and also because the majority of his supporters are former UNC members or supporters.
But the leader of the UNC and some other members of the party don't care for Warner's overtures. UNC leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar slammed the door last week when she said she would not work with a party "that supports criminals", a clear reference to the ILP based on UNC's LGE campaign.
However, many ordinary members of her party have been calling for a deal with Warner, saying it's the only way to heal the wounds and prepare to win the next general election.
Persad-Bissessar and the UNC have acknowledged over and over again that splitting votes between the UNC and the ILP would benefit the PNM and the PM has appealed to all UNC members who have migrated to the ILP to "come back home".
But this is not happening, based on the voting pattern. The ILP got more than 102,000 votes in the election on October 21 and the UNC won five corporations with just 19,000 more votes than the ILP, which won no corporation. Here are the EBC figures:
- PNM: 85 seats, 189,805 votes; 8 corporations
- UNC: 44 seats, 121,793 votes; 5 corporations
- COP: 03 seats, 032,616 votes; 0 corporations
- NJAC: 00 seats, 000,894 votes; no corporations
- ILP: 03 seats, 102,918 votes
Those appealing for a union with the ILP have argued that the PNM was able to win eight corporations while it received a minority of votes - a typical flaw in the country's first past the post electoral system.
Indeed Persad-Bissessar pointed out at a political meeting Monday night that the total PNM vote was just around 18 per cent while the combined vote against the PNM was much higher. She made the point in appealing to anti-PNM voters to unite and not split the vote.
However, callers on radio talk shows have said while she appears to be calling for a partnership by asking for a strong vote against the PNM she is not budging on her hard line position against the ILP, which is where the strong bank of anti-PNM votes resides.
If the support for the UNC and ILP in St Joseph is combined, based on polling figures, the PNM would easily lose the seat as it did in 2010 when a combined opposition defeated the PNM. Here is the result:
- Kennedy Swaratsingh PNM 7,778 41.8%
- Herbert VOLNEY UNC 10,835 58.2%
Polls today put the PNM ahead. The Express newspaper suggests that the party's candidate Terrence Deyalsingh is at 39 per cent with the UNC's Ian Alleyne 13 points behind with an undecided figure of 18 per cent. The poll puts the ILP's Om Lalla at 19 per cent. If you assume that all the votes would come together against the PNM, including half of the undecideds, then it would suggest that the UNC/ILP coalition would have more than 50 per cent and a clear victory.
If you look at the other polls, you find a similar situation. The Guardian Media poll published on Sunday presented this picture:
- PNM - 31.5 per cent
- ILP - 30.8 per cent
- UNC - 27.0 per cent
A UNC/ILP union puts the coalition at 57 per cent, although not every vote would go to the group if there is a deal.
The NACTA poll has a similar figure, putting a combined UNC/ILP team at 54 per cent:
- PNM - 33 per cent
- UNC - 30 per cent
- ILP - 24 per cent
The refusal of the UNC to negotiate or consider an arrangement or accommodation with the ILP means its chances of winning in St Joseph are not good while the PNM seems to be winning easily.
Those clamouring for a deal are saying the small window of opportunity for the anti-PNM vote will close and allow the party to get an additional seat in the House of Representatives, which will do nothing to boost the UNC or PP image or confidence.
Many UNC supporters have told JYOTI the best deal is to give Jack Warner and the ILP the support they need for a mayor and deputy mayor in Chaguanas in exchange for Om Lalla's withdrawal from St Joseph and his endorsement of Alleyne.
They say that would not be a formal union with the ILP but it would solve two immediate political problems and keep the PNM out of both Chaguanas and St Joseph.