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PNM favoured party at this point

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A ruling coalition, badly splintered, burdened with the handicap of its many failures to cohere amongst its constituent elements; a government that has failed on the substantive promises of being able to begin a fundamental diversification of the economy and to break institutional criminality; a cabinet that has attracted a mountain of allegations of corruption and poor governance practices including the refusal to communicate honestly with the population; a Government that has been consistently charged for favouring its tribe and one with several ministers toting baggage; and a leader who has on occasion demonstrated that she acts only when all else fails (Warner and Roberts the most prominent examples of harbouring those who have failed to clear their names) and a cross-over electorate dissatisfied and disenchanted, are among the conclusions of this series of columns on how the parties stand six months before facing the electorate.

Out of the firing line in the manner that a government is the focus of voter expectation, the Opposition People’s National Movement stands to benefit from the negative fallout from the Government. But as analysed, whereas the party’s leadership has delivered heavy blows on the Government for alleged corruption and poor governance, it has not given the electorate much to go on as an alternatives to the policies and programmes of the moment.  

Opposition Leader, Keith Rowley may have shown the ability to press the political knife into the flesh of the Government and ruling party when such has been warranted.

He has however not done so well giving substantial reasons, other than the prospect of relief from the PP/UNC, for being elected to solve the problems of a one-horse economy, having the capacity to slay the impulse to criminality of segments of the population and to replace the criminal culture with one that could re-engineer the social fabric of a wounded society.

The case of the Congress of the People is illustrative of a failure to institute “New Politics.” It is yet another disappointing end to the hope of the electorate that political groups representative of the tribes and the social classes could coalesce in the best interest of the whole. The tribes are now even more politically scattered.

Serious questions now arise as to whether this objective of ending ruinous and self-defeating party politics could ever be achieved. Maybe the social and economic coming together to solve problems must precede any attempt to defeat tribalism. In conclusion, it can be said for all of the reasons articulated and analysed over the last few weeks, the PNM must be the favoured party at this point.

That view notwithstanding the campaign when fully functional will begin to highlight the electoral possibilities at the constituency level. The runoff poll could be of significance. At this distance, the impact of a second polling in critical constituencies can only be the subject of arithmetic without politics and dynamic political behaviours being added.   

If and when the legislation returns to the HOR, there is the possibility that there will be even greater antipathy to the ruling party and government for dictatorial and manipulative legislative practices for pulling the runoff measure out of their political bag of tricks. If that evolves in such a manner it could also weigh against the government for its desperate recklessness in making the legislative change outside of consulting with the electorate.   

Or, as the government may be hoping, taken outside of the heat of the moment when the Bill first appeared in the Parliament and was brought to the attention of the population, there could be some measure of softening of the antagonistic position towards runoff polls by the natural opponents of the legislation. That is a calculated hope and may be the reason why the Bill has not yet returned to the HOR.

The scanning of the environment is far from being predictive and definitive of the outcome of the election whenever it is called. But the conclusions, even if they are perceived to be off-target as they surely will be seen to be by the supporters of the ruling party, and as short-changing the support for the Opposition, are really a first pass of opinion some distance away from the poll. The political leaders, perhaps when they are alone with their political conscience, should pay attention.

The column shall return to more cogent analyses when the election draws near. As to the date of the poll, typical of politicians who seek out every possible advantage given, Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar will play games with giving any premature hints as to the likely date with destiny.  And this is notwithstanding her articulated position of having fixed dates for election.

At present one big factor in deciding the date of the poll is an answer to the question of where do energy prices go from here. Any continuing slide will surely quicken the tempo to holding the election before the real impact begins to take effect. On the contrary, if the prices hold and there is a promise of increasing revenues, the PM will surely wait to get some pre-election funding into the expenditure of the Ministry of Finance.      


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