There is now grave concern for the People’s National Movement’s chances in national elections ahead, following a landslide victory by incumbent Dr Keith Rowley on Sunday.
This is the view of unsuccessful leadership candidate Karen Nunez-Tesheira, particularly after a combination of negative aspects affecting Rowley’s overwhelming results.
The results of PNM’s three days of voting—from the previous weekend up to last Sunday—were given by the party’s Election Supervisory Committee yesterday.
Rowley retained the party’s leadership with 8,424 votes—an overwhelming margin over Nunez-Tesheira’s 345.
Rowley also defeated other leadership candidates, attorney Ronald Boynes (who received 243) and Junior Barrack (99).
The Leaders in Service team, which Rowley had praised, also swept all of the 12 positions contested. Four posts were unopposed.
The victory gave Rowley another four-year term until 2026. He was first elected leader in 2010 and held the post in internal elections in 2014 and 2018. On this occasion, however, he’s made it clear the PNM “is in transition.”
In the PNM’s 2014 internal election, when Rowley was unsuccessfully challenged by Pennelope Beckles, he won with 18,121 votes to Beckles’ 1,315 in an 81,000 membership. In the 2018 internals, Rowley was unchallenged. His latest leadership victory came at a time when the PNM currently has 105,894 members, according to ESC figures released two weeks ago.
Rowley didn’t reply to WhatsApp queries on his feelings after winning, the numbers won by and his work ahead.
A PNM member at the polling booth at the Grand Stand, Queen’s Park Savannah, during the party’s 50th Convention on Sunday.
However, victorious new chairman Stuart Young, who received a total of 8,398 votes, second in numbers to the Prime Minister’s votes, sent “big congratulations” to all.
Nunez-Tesheira, in her campaign, had called out the current leadership, cited alleged issues with the voting and undertook an unsuccessful legal bid.
After yesterday’s results, Nunez-Tesheira said she wasn’t really disappointed.
“I’d had an idea of how the situation might be. But what surprised me greatly was the low number of voter turnout on the actual convention day—814. I think people expected between 2,500 and 4,000 voter turnout. This isn’t good. It’s either people voted before or didn’t qualify to vote.”
Nunez-Tesheira is, however, more concerned at what other numbers signify for the PNM and its success in national elections ahead.
“While the leader won, it doesn’t look good for him. I looked at the voter turnout in the Prime Minister’s Diego Martin West constituency over the previous weekend’s two days of voting —188 and that’s concerning since there must be thousands of registered voters there and they were not heavily affected by flooding. It’s not a good sign,” she said.
PNM political leader candidate Karen Nunez-Tesheira outside the Grand Stand, Queen’s Park Savannah during the PNM’s 50th Convention on Sunday.
“Also, he appeared to have gotten substantially less votes in this election than he did when he was last challenged (in 2014). Again, it doesn’t bode well leading the party into the next elections. So, accordingly, I have grave reservations for the PNM in national elections.”
She said she was looking at a way in which she can be of help going forward.
“But it’s too early to say. I’m a PNM member, so I’ll eventually come to see how best I can make a further contribution to the party going forward.”
New PRO Faris Al-Rawi and general secretary Foster Cummings didn’t reply to WhatsApp queries on when the new executive would meet, its priorities and when they would return to the ”ground” as promised during LIS’s campaign.
Defeated PNM leadership candidate Ronald Boynes says his concerns about the party’s electoral list and fairness of the electoral process remain.
“An independent body to conduct the election is absolutely necessary,” he said after the results were announced.
Boynes intends to continue pressing for the issues he raised in the campaign and he’s prepared to work with the incoming executive.
“We need to inspire the 90 per cent-plus who didn’t participate to become involved in the process so that the party can become ready for the electoral challenges ahead,” Boyes said.
“The voter turnout is extremely low, especially for voting held over three days. We have to mobilise and motivate our party. A lot of people are disenchanted and we need to reach them. Needless to say, the margin of victory was quite significant in the context of a voter turnout of less than 10 per cent.”
Barrack, the other defeated leadership candidate, said, “If I got 99 votes, it means 99 people heard my message and agreed with me and I’m happy for that. I didn’t have a maxi bringing people.”
On whether Barack he’d “come again,” he said, “I’m 63 ...but I’ll go into the communities and get the message out over time on what the party should be doing. There’s a massive level of disenchantment, so I’ll be hitting the road in the next month to lift the consciousness.”
Other successful candidates were:
Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly (vice chairman) 7,928 votes.
Patricia Alexis (assistant general secretary) 5,607 votes.
Kazim Hosein (treasurer) 7,537 votes.
Kwasi Robinson (social media officer) 6,288 votes.
Terrence Beepath (field officer) 7,165 votes.
Maxine Richards (welfare officer) 6901 votes.
Laurel Lezama-Lee Sing (education officer) 7,807 votes.