Tuesday, January 23, 2018

What's at stake in local govt polls


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After a complete rejection at the recent THA election, the People's Partnership Government has confirmed speculation of its loss of favour with the electorate.

A result of 12 seats to the PNM and none to the TOP partner in the THA is a significant and strong signal to the Partnership. We must not forget that this is the same electorate that gave the Partnership two seats in the Parliament just under three years ago.

While Jack Warner states the THA election was won by one particular ethnic vote it would be worthwhile to note that Tobago is not as insignificant as some may think. The population will interpret this resounding victory to signal the PNM regaining ground under the new leadership of Dr Keith Rowley.

The local government election is therefore critical for a number of reasons. One such reason is the criticism by the Partnership of the PNM's failure to call local elections in over seven years. Therefore the public is watching to see if the Prime Minister will keep her word and call local elections when they are constitutionally due.

A victory for the Partnership would assist in demonstrating credibility and re-establishing its momentum going into the general elections. Although the COP has mentioned it is considering contesting local government elections separately as long as it remains a partner, the Partnership will continue to be a major political force.

The stakes are extremely high though, as with any national election, because a win for the PNM would also mean two victories in a row which would be the resurgence the party was hoping for during its time in opposition. This will set the PNM on a strong footing for the general elections due in 2015.

The electorate continues to look on as the final judge in determining who will govern. Note that many hold the view that all politics is considered local. Also, the favour of the youth vote is becoming more and more significant and will prove to be a major deciding factor in who emerges victorious come election day.

Ronald Huggins

St Joseph