Dookeran: COP’s chances today weaker than in 2007
Anna Ramdass firstname.lastname@example.org
The electoral chances of the Congress of the People (COP) on its own today are weaker than they were in 2007 when the party was born, says former COP leader Winston Dookeran.
Dookeran fielded questions from the media yesterday on current political issues following the launch of an outreach programme between the United Nations and the Foreign Affairs Ministry at Capital Plaza, Port of Spain.
Dookeran was the founding leader of the COP, which amassed some 148,000 votes at the 2007 general election but was unable to secure any seats.
In 2010, the COP joined the United National Congress (UNC) and three other parties to form the People’s Partnership coalition, which won the general election.
Over the past three years, the COP and the UNC have had differing views on various issues, but remained united although the COP at times threatened to cut ties.
Asked whether he felt the COP was stronger or weaker today and if it could stand an election on its own, Dookeran responded,
“I think the electoral chances of the COP would have been less that it was in 2007 and perhaps in 2010, but I think the political direction that the COP has put forth is now being embraced by all.
“That’s how I read the politics now and in that sense the electoral results will not manifest the political direction in which a country is moving.”
Dookeran was guarded when asked whether the COP was confident of securing victory in the five corporations which it will be contesting at the October 21 local government elections.
He did admit, however, the emergence of the Independent Liberal Party (ILP) on the political landscape will see a division in the electoral process.
“There is clearly going to be division of support and individuals have taken the position as to where their electoral chances are better, so I am not duly surprised. I am somewhat disappointed,” he said.
However, when asked specifically about the Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation, he responded: “I know it’s a difficult electoral proposition at this point, and in Tunapuna I recognise that we will in fact become liable to the overall picture but, having said that, I do believe that the issue of representation and the issue of collective action by the community would give the COP a very good chance in showing well in that particular area.”
Dookeran had pointed out that he recently looked at a report on Bloomberg, where the leader of one of the coalition parties in Israel had expressed his views on that country’s governance and there were areas on which he was critical.
Asked about the People’s Partnership governance over the past three years and areas he felt there was need for improvement, Dookeran said, “I think there are many areas in governance that we could have done better. I think there are areas in terms of designing reform agenda, in terms of the issues of corruption, is something we could have done better.
“I think in the areas of trying to build a united political environment we could have done better, but I see all this in the context of a movement. It’s a change in the society. It took us 50 years to be where we are. It’s only within the last few years that we have had a direct confrontation on the norms that established the politics of the past.
“I’m not disappointed about the general direction we are taking, but I feel there could have been more progress in some areas.”
Dookeran said while the COP’s philosophy of new politics remains, there were many hurdles.
“I think there is a quest in the population to reach to the standards and the principles and programmes that have been set up. I think electorally there have been some challenges, but I think the philosophy of the COP remains intact and I think the country is still striving for that,” he said.
He said the three parties in the electoral race—the People’s Partnership, the PNM and the ILP—were all trying to emulate the position that was initially taken by the COP.
“...Sometimes they don’t have the guts to say it is new politics, sometimes they say it is better politics... I have looked at it very carefully... they are all striving to get that middle ground,” he said.