The People’s National Movement (PNM) has received almost twice as many aldermen as the United National Congress (UNC), the Independent Liberal Party (ILP) and the Congress of the People (COP) received altogether, according to the allocations made by the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC).
And according to the latest figures of the EBC, the PNM received a total of 189,885 votes; the UNC received a total of 121,793; and the Congress of the People received 32,616 votes.
PNM MP Colm Imbert pointed out last night that the latest figures show the “PNM votes in this local government election exceeded the combined votes of the UNC and the COP by 35,476 votes”, which comprise the People’s Partnership. The ILP received 102,916 votes.
The EBC confirmed the voter turnout was 43.5 per cent—a record high. Out of an electorate of 1,036,731, some 451,179 voted in Monday’s local government elections.
The EBC also confirmed the PNM has received the lion’s share of aldermen—36 out of a total of 56—allocated under the new system of proportional representation. The UNC was allocated 14 aldermen, the Independent Liberal Party got four and the Congress of the People, one.
According to a release from the EBC, all the aldermen would go to one party in seven corporations. The PNM would get all four aldermen in the Port of Spain, Arima, Point Fortin, Diego Martin, San Juan/Laventille and Tunapuna/Piarco corporations, while the UNC would get all four aldermen in the Penal/Debe Corporation.
The other corporations are San Fernando—three PNM, one COP; Chaguanas—two ILP, one PNM, one UNC; Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo—two ILP, two UNC; Mayaro/Rio Claro—two PNM, two UNC; Princes Town—two PNM, two UNC; Siparia—two PNM and two UNC; and Sangre Grande—one ILP, two PNM and one UNC.
Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley, commenting on the allocation, said the PNM had stated in the debate the new system of selection of aldermen was merely a ruse targeting the fourth aldermen (to ensure the People’s Partnership, in circumstances where it felt it would do poorly in the elections, would get an alderman in many corporations via proportional representation).
“In this case, the PNM won handsomely enough to win all the aldermen (in six of the eight corporations that it won). He said the Government had set a 25 per cent threshold because it felt it would have won at least 25 per cent of the votes.
“They did worse and, in many cases, did not poll the 25 per cent required to get an alderman, leaving the PNM with all the aldermen. So we are right where we were before where the winner takes the whole batch of aldermen. So this magical arrival of increased democracy, which the amendment to the Municipal Corporation Act was supposed to deliver, look at what has happened,” he said.
Local Government Minister Suruj Rambachan said the Prime Minister, who has consistently stated her philosophy to governance is one of inclusion, “has walked the talk, even if this new system (of proportional representation) has proven disadvantageous to her party”. He said the nation should admire the Prime Minister for such integrity and for leadership which has gone beyond others.
“She stands tall,” he said.
Rambachan said the matter of making the selection of aldermen through proportional representation had confirmed that the People’s Partnership Government, and in particular Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, had a vision for a broader democracy than any other leader. He said the Prime Minister’s vision includes the widest number of people and ensures that minorities would never go unrepresented in local government in the future.
Rambachan said it was unfortunate that both the PNM and the ILP vehemently voted against the measure in Parliament, dubbing it a political ploy on the part of the Government.
“Today the Government has shown that in the context of good governance and inclusion, that legislation has proven itself to be invaluable. This always demonstrates that on the matter of governance the People’s Partnership will always do that which is in the interest of the nation as a whole,” he said.
Asked about the issue of the Chaguanas borough, Rambachan said the Prime Minister’s statement that the UNC would not negotiate with criminals still stands.
Noting that in a number of corporations there would only be one party, Rambachan said the Government could always work to modify the system in the future. “But in reality, we have taken a giant step, strengthening the institution of democracy and representation.”
Although there is a total of 136 seats, the EBC’s release accounts for 135 seats because there is a recount in the electoral district of Moruga—one of the areas in the Princes Town Corporation.
The EBC gives a breakdown of the 135 seats as: 85 for the PNM; 45 for the UNC; three for the COP and three for the ILP.
However, there are several errors in the allocation of seats for the elected candidates released by the EBC. On the chart released by the commission, the PNM count should be 84 seats since the Moruga seat is still to be determined.
The EBC has allotted the Kelly Village/Warrenvile seat in the Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation to the ILP, when it was the COP which won that seat.
Also, one seat on the Penal Debe Corporation, La Fortune, was won by the ILP, but the EBC chart allots it to the UNC.
So the figures should read: 84 for the PNM; UNC, 44 seats; COP, four seats (one in San Fernando and three in the Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation); and the ILP, three (two in Chaguanas and one in Penal/Debe).
• See Page 26