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Runoff may entrench two-party system

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The unsubstantiated claims of Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan and others of the United National Congress that the post-election runoff could give third and fourth parties a foot in the door of government and enhance the possibilities for vibrant coalition politics is not supported by the history of coalition politics in T&T and by political logic.

Modern coalition/electoral politics goes back to the 1976 poll, when the United Labour Front emerged as an amalgam of the left-leaning trade union movement and the rump of the Democratic Labour Party, the Indo-Trinidad political constituency. In the 1986 election, the coalition National Alliance for Reconstruction defeated for the first time in a general election the previously invincible People’s National Movement, 33-3. 

The predecessor to the 1986 coalition was the 1981 Organisation for National Reconstruction. Then there was the post-election coalition of 1995 when the Tobago NAR threw in its two Tobago seats with the UNC to give the party the majority it needed to break the Trinidad 17-17 electoral tie. The present coalition of the People’s Partnership was created out of five political parties through the Fyzabad Declaration and won the 2010 general election handsomely, defeating the PNM 29-12.