People’s National Movement (PNM) supporters returned home yesterday, taking the party from overwhelming defeat in 2010 to resounding victory.
The party, which had held three out of 14 corporations, recaptured the major population centres and urban areas along the East-West Corridor.
This translated into absolute victory in eight out of the 14 corporations.
It had a clean sweep in four corporations where it won every single seat—Port of Spain Corporation (12), Arima (7), Diego Martin (10) and tentatively Point Fortin (4). It also won eight of the nine seats in San Fernando, 12 of the 13 seats in San Juan/Laventille; 10 of the 15 seats in Tunapuna/Piarco and five of the eight seats in Sangre Grande.
The United National Congress (UNC) supporters kept the faith and the party maintained its heartland.
The party, which had suffered severely in the recent Chaguanas by-election, breathed an enormous sigh of relief that it was not annihilated.
It won five of the 14 corporations.
The party appeared to convert defeat into victory as the mood was celebratory at Rienzi Complex and the Prime Minister seemed almost ecstatic as she announced that the party had won Penal/Debe, the Siparia “fortress”, Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo, Princes Town and Mayaro/Rio Claro.
Amidst loud clapping, she said: “I call on every citizen to rise, take a bow and feel proud”.
As a coalition, however, the People’s Partnership completely lost Diego Martin, Arima where it was completely evicted, along with San Fernando, Tunapuna/Piarco and Sangre Grande, all of which it had held in the last three years.
Chaguanas, which the People’s Partnership had controlled, was expected to change hands to the Independent Liberal Party (ILP) but the borough which was expected to be the jewel in Jack Warner’s crown, now hangs in the balance.
The UNC won three seats, the PNM three and the ILP two.
The ILP which had given the UNC a run for its money in the July 29 by-election, and which had won every single polling division in Chaguanas West just a few weeks ago, suffered a huge reversal of fortunes.
It garnered only two seats in Chaguanas, lost its base Felicity and nothing else in the rest of the country.
The ILP leader Warner however was bloodied but unbowed.
As a supporter shouted at the party’s headquarters in Chaguanas: “Don’t go back home (to the UNC) yuh know,” Warner replied: “Win, lose or draw, my home is here. In four months we have become the third political force”.
However the ILP received over 62,00 votes.
The UNC received 84,000.
The PNM received 116,000 votes, making it the winner in every respect.
The COP was completely vanquished.
The electorate punished the COP, in the same way that it seemed to have done the Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) in the Tobago House of Assembly elections, for having allowed itself to be smothered within the coalition and gave it no seats.
The COP, which fought within the coalition to be able to name candidates for six corporations, is no longer the “third force”.
That position has been assumed now by the ILP.
PNM leader Keith Rowley who emerged the big winner, having led the party to victory 12/0 in the THA in January and yesterday in the local government elections, said in his victory speech at Balisier House courtyard in Port of Spain: “We pulled up our flag and the PNM is here to stay, great is the PNM”.
“We planned our course, we stayed our course and we did not engage in the indecencies of the others... And all of Trinidad and Tobago have rejected the entreaties of indecency,” he declared.
Looking ahead at future elections, he added: “It doesn’t matter who we are up against... The PNM expects to come out with a victory”.
He praised the young people who participated in the PNM’s campaign.
He pointed out that significantly the PNM now has a councillor in every corporation except the Penal/Debe Corporation. Suggesting that it was a hint of things to come, he said the party won the St Joseph/Valsayn seat in the local government elections.
The St Joseph by-election is just 13 days away.
In some areas the “split phenomenon” helped the PNM, but in others it made no difference.
The voter turnout was 26 per cent yesterday. In the last local government election it was 40 per cent. In that election the People’s Partnership got a total of 250,000 votes and the PNM received 121,000 votes.