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Boundary changes coming for 2015 polls
Boundary changes are ahead for next year’s general election. Confirmation comes with today’s marking of the fourth year since the current Tenth Parliament began on June 18, 2010, formalising the approach of the end of the five-year term and start of the general election stretch. After today, no more by-elections can be held even if a seat becomes vacant. The Elections and Boundaries Commission last Saturday said the Constitution’s Section 69 (3) precludes by-elections after the fourth year of a term.
Yesterday the T&T Guardian confirmed from other sources that constituency boundary changes would be made in a handful of seats all over Trinidad, owing to increasing populations in some areas. Regulations state that Tobago must have two seats and to get Trinidad’s district allocation, Trinidad’s electorate is divided by 39. According to the resulting figure, each constituency must then house no more than ten per cent above or ten per cent below that figure.
A report is expected to publicise boundary changes soon as well as another on local government boundaries after that. House Leader Dr Roodal Moonilal said last Sunday, he expected T&T would continue to have 41 seats and could not say anything about changes. Acknowledging internal changes around the Congress of the People (COP) and Independent Liberal Party (ILP), he added:
“The UNC is very confident that in general election we will retain seats we currently hold and we are working with partners to ensure we deepen our potential work. We are also deepening the strength of our performance and delivery of key goods. “General expectation is current marginal seats will continue as marginals. We will have to devise political strategies to treat with those. Anyone about winning elections will focus on marginals.”
Marginal seats traditionally include San Juan/Barataria, St Joseph, Mayaro, Tunapuna and San Fernando West. “Any boundary changes,” he added, “may or may not inspire changes in political strategy, depending on the nature of any realignment.” Moonilal said the PP planned to hit the road soon and would synchronise that with completion of “our homework ensuring government delivery and a strong image, sustainable until election.”
He acknowledged the Opposition People’s National Movement (PNM), riding a wave of success after elections externally and internally, was pressing for a snap poll. “We are prepared for the new low and Gestapo-type cyberspying induced by technology which will continue by those seeking political credit but people are smart enough to see through this,” he said.
PNM vice-chairman Colm Imbert, who does not think boundaries will be changed, based on 20-year historical trends and 2013 local government voting patterns, said he expected “we will win most if not all the marginals.” He is particularly optimistic about San Fernando West, currently held by the COP’s Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan, which is perceived to be in jeopardy owing to steady PNM attention, including the PNM’s 2013 possession of the San Fernando Corporation.
He added: “It’s historically a PNM seat. We usually win by 1,000 votes and should win it easily. The only way it won’t happen is if PNM does some nonsense between now and 2015. “(But) PNM’s learned its lesson and will never take the population for granted again in any election. We must be mindful T&T’s a cosmopolitan society, comprising different groups and we can’t be wrong and strong.
On possible alliances for the PNM, Imbert said: “We present candidates in all seats. The question of alliances will have to wait till election results arrive. If you win a clear majority, you are in government. But hypothetically, if you don’t and there are other parties willing to join with us to run T&T, that’s something to look at.”