The findings of an opinion survey conducted by the North American Caribbean Teachers Association (NACTA) in July, before the electoral (amendment) bill was announced and approved in the House, shows no party garnering the required majority (50 per cent plus one) vote to win several of the marginal seats.
If the new electoral bill is approved, several electoral districts will have to hold run off because no candidate would get majority support from voters. The poll shows a two-way contest between the People’s Partnership and the People’s National Movement with smaller parties preventing either of the two parties from getting a majority, NACTA said in a statement yesterday.
“The Congress of the People has virtually no support and if it were to contest the election on its own all of its candidates, including founder Winston Dookeran and chairperson Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan are likely to lose their deposits. The COP is trailing the Independent Liberal Party whose candidates will also lose their deposits while forcing a runoff between the top two finishers in several seats. Even without the electoral amendment, neither the ILP nor COP has a chance in any seat (except maybe Chaguanas West being held by ILP founder Jack Warner). But the election, constitutionally due in September 2015, is a long way off and opinion could change by then.”
NACTA is currently in the fields polling on support for the Constitution (Amendment) Bill with another week needed to collect data, the group said.
“The general trend shows strong support for term limit for the Prime Minister and Recall of MPs but there are concerns about how an unpopular MP will be recalled with many saying it allows recall too late into a term. Also, people are uneasy about the 50 per cent vote requirement to elect a MP. They seem to prefer Proportional Representation over the 50 per cent majority vote,” NACTA said.
The findings of the poll were obtained from interviews with 1,000 respondents (42 per cent Indians, 39 per cent Africans, 18 per cent Mixed, and one per cent Others) based on varying numbers of respondents in each constituency reflecting the demographics of the population.
The poll, conducted by Dr Vishnu Bisram, has a four per cent margin of error.
On how people will vote in ten seats, the poll showed the PNM ahead of the UNC (PP) in Sangre Grande, Tunapuna, San Fernando West, Lopinot, Talparo, Arima, and D’Abadie. The PP was ahead in Barataria, St Joseph, and Moruga. The PNM polled an average of 40 per cent in the ten seats whereas the PP polled an average of 37 per cent with the ILP trailing at five per cent.
“The highest percentage of support for the PNM was in Arima at 45 per cent with its lowest support in Barataria at 39 per cent,” NACTA said.
The PP’s highest percentage of support was Barataria at 46 per cent and its lowest in Sangre Grande at 32 per cent.
NACTA said: “The findings show if the support of the ILP is added to the PNM, the opposition party would lead in nine of the ten seats and if the ILP’s support is added to the PP, the alliance would be favoured in four seats and two being tied. It shows the ILP’s support is critical for both parties to win at least 21 (of the 41) seats by majority votes. Whether the ILP will be able to retain its support for another year will be tested. It is also not clear whether the ILP founder Jack Warner can retain his Chaguanas West or whether anyone can win that seat it in the first round of balloting. Warner has been slipping in support since he won re-election a year ago after resigning his seat.”
Coalition or alliance politics could be the wave of the future since the major parties would need the support of the minor parties and vice versa to win seats under the new electoral rule, NACTA said.