The results of Monday’s by-election should not be one to celebrate for either the United National Congress (UNC) or People’s National Movement (PNM).
It should serve as a wake-up call to both parties.
That’s how political analyst Prof John La Guerre summed up the outcome of the by-election which saw the UNC capturing the Barataria seat, while the PNM retained Belmont East.
La Guerre said the result was not something to celebrate for both parties since it showed that ancestral loyalties were shifting and people are more concerned with pressing issues affecting the country.
He said the collapse of the seabridge, the delay in the arrival of the Galleons Passage, crime, murders, unemployment and the flagging economy could have contributed to the PNM votes going into the UNC’s hands.
“The leadership of both political parties need to assess particulars at polling stations levels what is going on. This would give them an indication of how people are reacting.
What we are witnessing is a preamble to the 2020 general elections.”
La Guerre said the PNM’s leadership would now have to reassess its approach to policies in going forward.
“The results would certainly give the Prime Minister an idea how people are thinking and reacting to the policies of the PNM. Dr Rowley has to play an increased role in the administration of the country. He would have to hold his ministers to account, either in Cabinet meetings or otherwise. It’s clear they are not performing as the electorate expected.
There is dissatisfaction on the ground with the Government’s performance.”
It was evident, La Guerre said, that the Prime Minister’s stocks have begun to further decline.
“The PNM needs to get its house in order because they are going to face a general election in two years’ time.
So I expect there would be some internal discussions in the way the Government is performing.”
While La Guerre was critical of PNM’s poor performance, he said the UNC should not blow its trumpets just yet as they need to be more serious in the way they portray themselves as a possible alternative to the PNM.
“The result of the by-elections is a wake- up call for both parties,” La Guerre said.
Political analyst Maukesh Basdeo said the PNM would now have to take into consideration that voters can swing their allegiance back and forth at the drop of a hat.
Basdeo said Rowley would have to re-strategise, as voters’ behaviour was beginning to change.
“The Prime Minister would have to take stock of the results. You cannot write it off as a by-election and it has no bearings.”
He said while the UNC has demonstrated that they had all systems in place to topple the PNM in Barataria, they still have a lot of work ahead with little time on their hands.
Basdeo also held that view that the PNM would have to rethink its policies and positions and go back to the drawing board before next year’s local government elections and general election are called to woo voters.
He said a lot of pressing issues could have resulted in votes being swung.
While Rowley stated in his concession speech that the PNM did not stir up racial and religious acrimony, Basdeo said he wondered if the Muslims in Barataria voted against the PNM.
Basdeo said the fact that several people were detained by police concerning the terror plot to disrupt Carnival 2018 and the Nur-E-Islam mosque in El Socorro being searched played a role in the votes shifting.
“All of these things would have been factored. These things would have been a factor. It may have influenced how people voted.”