A seven-seven tie result for People’s National Movement and United National Congress!
That was the outcome of yesterday’s Local Government Elections where both parties held strongholds. But the ruling PNM lost ground, including its bid for Siparia and the UNC gained ground including winning the coveted Sangre Grande corporation.
At PNM’s Balisier House, Port-of-Spain headquarters last night, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley expressed disappointment to media personnel when he spoke at a briefing around 10.45 pm.
Saying he wasn’t surprised at the outcome, Rowley said it was a difficult campaign and difficult period of governance.
“While we’re disappointed we didn’t pick up that particular area —Siparia—we’re not surprised at the outcome and we’re very pleased we have in fact won the most seats and we’ve maintained our position in this manner,” he said.
He said PNM had won Arima (7-0), Diego Martin (10-0), Port-of-Spain (12-0), Point Fortin (6-0), San Fernando (6-3), Tunapuna/Piarco (11-5 ) and San Juan/Laventille (13-1).
While PNM picked a few seats in San Juan East and Barataria, Rowley also admitted to “dropping a few seats” and to disappointment at losing Sangre Grande. He said the PNM had “really hoped to hold on to it” and he wasn’t greatly surprised the party hadn’t done really well in some areas.
The atmosphere at Balisier House was somewhat subdued as early results arrived. But addressing some flag-waving PNMites at Balisier House later, Rowley declared the PNM had won the election 74 seats to 65 and “nobody has beaten us....”
In the 2016 LG poll, the PNM had won 83 seats and the UNC 54. Yesterday’s result showed that PNM got less seats than in 2016 and the UNC won more than it did then.
Cheering UNC supporters waited for Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar at the Couva South Hall up to 11.51 pm. Addressing them after the long wait, she said the people had spoken and change was coming, starting yesterday. She said the UNC had won the popular vote. But she gave different figures to Rowley’s on the number of seats won.
Before polls closed at 6 pm, Persad-Bissessar said UNC’s feedback was that in most areas there had been a steady stream of voters. She said she saw that as a “positive sign” that people were interested in exercising their right to vote and to elect representatives of their choice.
She’d said she was confident “...The people will make the right choice in the election and send a clear message to the PNM that their incompetence isn’t acceptable, and they’re ready for change. I have always said the voice of the people is the voice of God...”
The UNC showed an upward trend from 8.30 pm in stronghold corporations such as Mayaro/Rio Claro, Penal/Debe, Princes Town and Chaguanas which the party won.
UNC held the Siparia corporation which the PNM had targeted heavily and where some boundary changes occurred. The Opposition also retained the Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo Corporation, where there had been concerns about the California/Pt Lisas seat which PNM also targeted.
However, party supporters were the most jubilant at taking the coveted Sangre Grande corporation from the PNM. Both had tied there in the 2016 LG elections and PNM eventually took control due to a deciding vote by the corporation’s chairman Terry Rondon.
UNC also picked up three seats on the formerly PNM- controlled San Fernando corporation and in Tunapuna/Piarco. Last night, UNC general secretary Dev Tancoo said they would seek a recount in the Cocoyea-Tarouba seat where the PNM won by one vote. He acknowledged the PNM may also seek a recount in one of the Enterprise seats in Chaguanas where the UNC won by a few votes.
The first PNM candidate to be declared victorious at 8.06 pm, was the party’s Calvary candidate in the Arima corporation - Jeniece Scott, a PNM Youth League officer.
PNM’s first declared corporation win - arriving before 9 pm - was the Arima corporation. The party declared the six seats in the Point Fortin corporation just after 9 pm. But signs that the PNM was losing Sangre Grande and Siparia emerged by 8.50 pm.
A total of 1.079 million electors were registered for yesterday’s Trinidad election. EBC officials had said there had been a steady heavy turnout in Central areas. There had been a 34.34 per cent voter turnout for the 2016 LG polls. EBC officials didn’t respond last night on a preliminary voter turnout for yesterday’s poll.
A total of 338 candidates contested the 139 seats in the 14 regional corporation areas. But the five smaller parties and eight Independents who also contested - apart from the PNM and UNC - all lost, including Louis Lee Singh’s PPM.