This is a year in which anything can play. In a few weeks, Tobagonians will be determining their fate and, by extension, the collective future of our republic.
If the TOP is successful, the People’s Partnership will consider it a message from the gods that this administration has been absolved from its past transgressions and can look forward to a second term in office.
The worry that the Partnership is flagging will be put to rest and the Prime Minister will be assured by her flock that she is the greatest and most loved leader of all time.
And who will be able to deny such an assessment? After all, this administration has overcome numerous political faux pas that would have made any other regime crumble.
A victory in Tobago for this Government would also mean the temporary stay of the ambitions of the few within the high ranks who are hoping that come March, when a new President will be elected by the electoral college, there will be a vacancy to lead the party.
And one may be tempted to bet that, if things go the way for the Partnership in the THA election, we will be facing a local election sooner than anticipated.
For the Partnership, winning in Tobago would be the continuation of the glorious political ride it has been enjoying since May 2010 and confirmation that all its detractors have been nothing more that disenchanted mischief-makers who can be discounted as politically irrelevant.
It has long been touted that Tobagonians are not as fickle as Trinidadians and are not as easily fooled by the seductive sound bites and empty promises of politicians. If that be the case, then the election result must be viewed as an independent assessment of the performance of those who previously controlled the THA.
Of course there are several other factors that are in play that will determine the final result but such elements should not be allowed to make Tobagonians lose their reputation as being voters who are not carried away by cheap talk and empty promises.
The announcement that plans are in place to facilitate a debate among leaders of the three parties contesting the elections is a step in the right direction and one worth emulating for every major election campaign of the future.
The articulated hope of the debate organisers is that the opportunity will be used to discuss the relevant issues so that Tobagonians will vote based on a platform of knowledge and not political rhetoric.
For too long, Tobago has been treated as a neglected sibling and not enough has been done to ensure true equality between the two islands.
With the upcoming THA election, however, magnificent promises are being made that speak to greater budget allocations and an opportunity for autonomy-matters which are obviously meant to gain the vote of those going to the polls.
But constitution reform has never been an item placed high on the action agenda, meaning that while numerous consultations chaired by experts have occurred over time, with a draft amended constitution being presented to the former prime minister, no significant changes have taken place over our 50-year history as an independent nation.
There is a move to launch, yet again, in the very near future, a team to lead the charge for constitution reform but whether this group would be able to transform the discussion into meaningful action is anybody’s guess.
One may remember that on the 2010 campaign trail, a specific promise was made by this regime that our constitution would be amended to include, among other things, the power to recall non-performing elected representatives and to stipulate a maximum two consecutive terms in office for the individual holding the Office of the Prime Minister.
To date, not one of these promises has materialised and there is little hope that such amendments will be made before the next general election.
The THA election is a major event in the political life of the current Leader of the Opposition. Dr Rowley knows only too well that all eyes are on him, both from members of his party and his critics.
If the PNM fails to win this Tobago election, there would be aspiring individuals who would make the play to replace him as leader.
Some have already adjusted their lifestyles to improve their chances, should the need arise. And others are secretly hoping that the party loses so that Dr Rowley’s leadership would be in issue.
But Dr Rowley is no fool and, being Tobagonian, he should have a good pulse of the people upon whom his political future depends. One loss in an election should not mark his demise as political leader, but for those who know politics better than most of us—anything goes!