?On Friday, Madam Justice Dean-Armorer held "that the election of 2015 in Trinidad and Tobago was substantially in accordance with the prescribed law and it does not appear to me that the breaches affected the result," and dismissed all five election petitions which had been brought by the UNC challenging the general election results in the constituencies of San Fernando West, Tunapuna, St Joseph, Moruga/Tableland and Toco/Sangre Grande, all of which had been won by the PNM.
So the UNC once again finds itself having to endure yet another battering, with its supporters having to bear the disappointment of its leaders' hollow promises that "elections are coming soon", having been given the false hope that, with elections in five constituencies bound to be deemed void, the PNM Government, without a majority in Parliament (moving from 23-18 to 18-18), would collapse.
Shame on the hapless lazy politicians who wanted political victory indirectly through the courts and not through hard work, discipline, and the creation of policies to develop the nation and improve people's lives! Pity the party faithful and loyalists, tired of the wool being pulled over their eyes. Enough is enough.
The results of the general elections held last September 7, were PNM 23, UNC 17, and COP 1, the consequence of which was that the PNM formed the Government and the PP was put into Opposition. However, the elections were not without controversy, because the EBC had extended the voting period by one hour in Trinidad because of inclement weather. This was unprecedented and was arguably something that the EBC had no power to do.
The UNC, reeling from the electoral loss, immediately began to complain bitterly about the EBC's decision to extend the voting time, and sought and was granted leave by the High Court to challenge the results in six constituencies to have the elections there declared void. This reaction was not surprising as these six constituencies were won by the PP in 2010, and their loss in 2015 showed that the swing vote had gone to the PNM. Even more humiliating were the margins of PNM victory which attested to this: San Fernando West 3310, La Horquetta/Talparo 2882, Tunapuna 3615, St. Joseph 1633, M/T 533 and Tunapuna/Sangre Grande 3904. Much political face was lost.
So, in keeping with the UNC/PP view that if you say it enough times people will believe it, the complaint made publicly and on social media by UNC propagandists, including the political leader, was that time was extended because the UNC was "ahead" in those six constituencies at 6 pm and the PNM needed help. The suggestion was that the PNM sought the extension, the supplicant EBC–read "the PNM EBC"–granted it even though it couldn't, and PNM supporters who alone knew of the extension flooded in their droves to their polling stations and voted, while the UNC supporters who had been unable to vote because of the weather and others who hadn't yet voted, not knowing of the extension, were at home none the wiser. Of course the extension was in respect of 39 constituencies in Trinidad, not just the six of which petitions were filed. Apparently, according to the leader's logic, in 33 constituencies the illegal extension was irrelevant, so those results could stand.
Before the trial the La Horquetta/Talparo petition was dismissed as it had been served out of time. At the trial there were two things for the court to decide: did the EBC have the power to extend time, and if it did not, did that decision "materially affect" the result. When the Constitution framers and Parliament prescribed the electoral process, including the taking of polls, they recognised that it could not in practice be infallible; there were bound to be irregularities, but they had to "materially affect" the result to make it invalid.
The UNC, through its foreign QC, derisively described the EBC's decision to extend time as "shockingly ill-conceived" and the September 7 polls as a "shambles". Arithmetic didn't count. It was whether the poll was fair, and it wasn't. There were also suggestions of "corrupt" practices.
In response, the EBC said it had conduct of the elections and had no choice but to extend time because of flooding. The PNM skewered the UNC's case and demonstrated that even if all the people who had voted during the extension had voted UNC, the PNM would have still won in each of the five seats, so the results were not materially affected by the extension.
The court has by its judgment shown that the UNC's propaganda was all lies. There was no "corrupt" practice, or improper collusion between the PNM and the EBC, nor was the election "a shambles". There was no evidence that the UNC was "ahead" at 6 pm. While the court held that the EBC did act illegally–but in good faith–in extending the polls, that did not invalidate the elections and the results were not affected by it. The UNC/PP was soundly defeated in an election conducted in accordance with the law.
So what are we to make of the leader's immediate response to the judgment that the party has (somehow) "won a victory" and that she is putting the Government on notice that they are sitting on seats that will be null and void? It seems there is only one answer: the current leader of the UNC, unable to survive on performance, is trying to do so, as before, by conjuring up victories where there are obvious losses. Her response amounts again to nothing more than a feeble attempt to divert attention from the unbridled corruption, wanton wastage and mismanagement that took place under her failed leadership. The time has come for the faithful and loyal to reclaim their party.