Last update: 10-Dec-2013 1:42 am
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Analysts: It’s a close fight Undecided voters hold the key in tomorrow’s elections
Corruption allegations levied against deputy political leader of the Independent Liberal Party (ILP) Anna Deonarine will not have a major impact on voters in tomorrow’s local government elections. This was the view of political analyst Dr Winford James as he spoke about the heated fight between the ILP, People’s Partnership (PP) and the People’s National Movement (PNM) to control the 14 corporations in tomorrow’s polls. James said the voting population have already made up their minds as to which party they would support.
The undecided voters, he said, would make the difference. James said allegations made by Attorney General Anand Ramlogan that Deonarine was the major beneficiary of the sale of 20 acres of land bought by her parents from Dole Chadee’s brother for $225,000 and then sold by them to Clico for $13 million, as well as the $240,000 Deonarine had paid for a Range Rover, which was worth between $1.2 million and $1.6 million, would have little or no impact.
“People already know who they are going to vote for. It will not have a major impact on voting.” Political analyst Maukesh Basdeo, meanwhile, said Deonarine was now seeing the effects of joining a party and facing the glare of the public. “Once you step out in the private domain and enter the public life you allow yourself to be scrutinised.” Basdeo said the voters had the last say. James said polls conducted on seven municipalities have shown that in some cases the ILP and UNC had placed second.
“That is why we cannot write off the ILP.” Having suffered two defeats at the polls, the THA and Chaguanas West by-election this year, James said if the PP loses tomorrow’s local government elections it will be another indictment on the party. The results at the local government polls, James said, can also be used as a gauge for the November 4 by-election in St Joseph.
James said if the PP were to lose this election and the one on November 4, the party’s credibility would be further eroded. “They (PP) have not recovered from the THA’s election and the Chaguanas by-election. Most people are saying they are clueless with regards to accessibility and communicating to the common man.”
James: PP on its way out
James said the PP has been having great difficult recovering from the “unpopularity and lack of public appeal” that have befallen them. He said before the PP can recover from one scandal another surfaces.
“I can’t see how they are going to recover especially with one of their creators/founders (Jack Warner) out of Government and sharing a head-on attack with the PNM. People are reinforced in their rejection of the kind of governance we are having now. It suggests to me that the PP Government is on its way out. It is not being helped by the kind of uncertain flip-flop politics coming from the Congress of the People, which is a party that should stand on its own.”
Should the PP lose the two elections, James said, this can put Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar in a precarious situation. Pressure can be applied on Persad-Bissessar to call a snap election or for her to step down and make way for a new leader. “Both those things are possible but she would be defiant in that regard. Politics creates its own kinds of pressure.” If Persad-Bissessar decides to step down as leader, James said the bigger question would be, “who in the PP would step in?”
James does not see a suitable replacement. “No such evidence is in my view.” Among the deputy political leaders, James said, Dr Roodal Moonilal was capable of leading the UNC but not the PP Government. “He (Moonilal) does not speak with a national voice. He speaks with a kind of a partisan tribal voice. People are looking for someone who can stand the divide and bring about an inclusive government.”
Looking on at the monies pumped into the campaign, James said he wondered if democracy was being undermined.
Basdeo: It’s a close race
Basdeo, however, shared a different view. He is predicting a close fight among the three main contenders. “The election race is quite tight. What I can say is that the ILP is having an impact on both the PNM and PP. The fight between the ILP and PNM would be in the PNM stronghold areas.” Basdeo feels the ILP can give the PNM a good run for its money in the Port-of-Spain City Corporation, while the fight between the UNC and ILP would be in Chaguanas, Siparia, Couva/Talparo and Penal/Debe corporations.
“So the fight will vary.” Basdeo said if the PP loses the local and by-elections they would remain in government and command the majority in Parliament. “It’s how the opposition parties will use it. Of course the question of legitimacy will come into play there. I foresee that pressure will be applied on the Prime Minister from the opposition parties. Then again, the decision will remain with the Prime Minister, if she wants to dissolve Parliament and call fresh elections. The ball would be in her court.”
Basdeo said the COP was putting itself on the line and if they were to suffer a defeat at the polls, it can signal how effective they are. “What we may see is that the UNC may retain its traditional corporations. If that turns out to be the case then the power of the UNC will still hold.” He said it would be interesting to see if the PNM can extend its reach outside of the traditional East-West Corridor and into Central-South, which are mainly controlled by the UNC and COP.
If the UNC loses the Tunapuna and Diego Martin corporations which they currently control, Basdeo said, they would have a lot of work to do for the 2015 general election.
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