Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 29th 2013 Contents RENUKA SINGH
Without a doubt, it dominated the
airwaves, newspapers and television
screens for the greater part of the past
The coming year, 2014, will be a
critical year for the Government as it
will have just months left to make
good on 2010 platform promises in
order to lay the foundation for the
general election in 2015. Analysts have
predicted that the next general election
could be called between May and
November 2015, giving all parties 15
months to impress the electorate.
The upcoming year will also see the
People s National Movement kicking
off the political walkabouts very early.
The party is expected to have its first
constituency walkabout on January 6
in South Port-of-Spain and Sangre
Grande the day after.
The parties, according to several
analysts, would be faced with a return
to tribal politics in 2015 with the elec-
torate demarcated along racial and
In the past 12 months, the country
endured four elections; two triggered
by the resignations of MPs have helped
make 2013 a politically historic year.
While several analysts have weighed
in on the political by-play, Dr Indira
Rampersad has described 2013 as a
"landmark year for politics" as the
ruling party, the United National Con-
gress, lost all four elections in one
Fellow analysts, Mukesh Basdeo,
Bishnu Ragoonath and Dr Winford
James also added their opinion on the
current political temperature and
explained how 2013 has already set
the stage for the next general election
in 2015. They also agreed that 2013
showed a return to tribal politics and
voting along race lines as was evi-
denced by the PNM s victory at the
polls at the local government elections.
But while the analysts held varying
views on the major political parties,
they all agreed that the biggest political
story for 2013 was the four elections
and four losses sustained by the ruling
UNC over the course of the year.
Paving the way for two-party
battle in 2015
It was a year that two parties
claimed victory at the polls. The
Opposition reclaimed the ground lost
just three years ago, winning nine of
the 14 municipal corporations, while
the UNC-led coalition retained five
of the eight it contested.
The population remained riveted
while those four elections played out
with all the bacchanal of a mini soap
opera. The electorate tuned in daily
to the unfolding drama on the political
stage, eagerly awaiting more of the
commess that they had come to
Political analyst Dr Winford James
blamed the People s Partnership for
the Tobago Organisation of the People
(TOP) first loss at the Tobago House
of Assembly (THA) election in Jan-
"If the PP, and by that I mean the
UNC, had not taken a lead role in the
TOP campaign, the TOP would have
had some part in the governing of
Tobago. But the routing of the TOP
was a routing of the PP, and the people
of Tobago showed that they were dis-
gusted with the PP," James said.
The two by elections and local gov-
ernment elections that followed did
not do anything to rebuild the ground
lost by the PP.
"It was the first time a ruling
party lost four elections in one
year but was able to keep their
base in tact," Rampersad said.
Rampersad said during the local
government elections and St
Joseph by election the UNC made
the strategic decision to "train
their guns" on Warner, rather
than on the PNM.
She said by removing Warner s
ILP from the line-up, the UNC
was "better poised" to focus on
"I think they were willing to
sacrifice the success at both the
local government and the St
Joseph by election in order to deal
with the ILP. They lost the battle
very successful strategy to sideline
Warner," she said.
James agreed that the UNC
focused more on Warner than the
PNM during the local government
"When they lost that election
they rejoiced because while they
did not defeat the PNM, they
defeated the ILP and Warner,"
"That is because the UNC was
more fearful of losing to Jack
Warner than to the PNM."
He said the UNC was afraid
that Warner would undermine its
base especially after he trounced
the party in the Chaguanas West
Both analysts agreed that the
unfolding dynamics paved the
way for the usual two-party elec-
tion battle in 2015.
The "Jack" factor
Warner first stirred the pot
when he split from the Govern-
ment in the first quarter of the
year. His resignation triggered the
Chaguanas West by election,
which Rampersad said was his-
toric in itself as it was the first
time the UNC lost that traditional
"There were internal dynamics
at play, and the major issue was
Jack Warner," she said.
"The Chaguanas West win was
a phenomenal victory for Warner
and it changed the fortunes of
both the UNC and the PP."
Rampersad also said it was the
first time the UNC heartland had
voted for a party led by a non-
James, though, did not agree
with the belief that Chaguanas
West was truly a UNC heartland
but said it was an area that the
UNC expected to win.
"Chaguanas used to be a place
they won consistently, so to lose
to Warner and the ILP as their
second loss for the year signalled
of what was to come," he said.
With respect to the St Joseph
by-election, Rampersad echoed
the sentiment expressed by Prime
Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar
throughout the campaign.
"Warner split the vote and that
augers well for the UNC going
Again, James had a different
"I don t see them regaining lost
ground, neither have I seen them
doing anything to regain that lost
ground," he said.
He said in the past three years
the public perception had turned
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt December 29, 2013
'...T&T will vote along racial lines in 2015'
Back to tribal politics
Dr Keith Rowley
Continues on Page A7
Warner first stirred the pot when he split
from the Government in the first quarter of
the year. His resignation triggered the
Chaguanas West by election, which
Rampersad said was historic in itself as it
was the first time the UNC lost that
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