Pundit Donny Samlal speaks out on UNC hooliganism STATEMENT PUNDIT DONNY SAMLAL ABOUT EVENTS AT THE UNC’S NATIONAL CONGRESS
Incumbent political leader of the ruling Peoples National Movement Dr Keith Rowley is expected to easily fend off three challengers for his position, according to findings of an ongoing tracking survey conducted by well known pollster Dr Vishnu Bisram for the North American Caribbean Teachers Association (Nacta). Dr Bisram has been conducting surveys in Trinidad as well as Tobago since the early 1990s. The findings of the tracking survey of some 500 respondents from early last month revealed similar findings to the updated poll of a further 450 interviewees. The respondents of the survey reflect the demographic composition of the population.
Only party members numbering some one hundred thousand can cast ballots in the PNM election. The party’s internal election will be held over three days November 26, 27, and December 4. This is the first time balloting is held over three days since one person one vote was introduced to choose executives over a decade ago moving away from the delegate system that was subjected to abuse. Members and supporters of the PNM and the general public express concern over security of the ballot over night since they will not be counted until after the last day of voting that is over a week from the first day of balloting. They worry about safekeeping of the ballots.
This vote comes as the ruling PNM and its leader are increasingly seen as unpopular and as the government postpones local government elections due by March 2. The population wants local empowerment in decision making with administration using that excuse to postpone LGE as it prepares a bill to give significant powers to local bodies.
Although the government and Dr Rowley are very unpopular, the findings of last month’s and the latest tracking polls reveal that they are preferred over the opposition UNC which is not viewed as a viable alternative. A large majority of voters want change but not the presently constituted UNC. The present composition of the opposition UNC has not been gaining traction among floating and independent voters who generally decide the outcome of a general election. Also, voters say the UNC comes across as bitterly divided unlike the PNM that successfully united factions for the 2020 general elections resulting in re-election. The UNC is perceived by voters as very divided with no potential leader being able to bring all the disparate factions together with several towering and credible personalities who were seen as potential leaders being denied tickets to contest seats in 2020 resulting in the party’s defeat. If a general election were to be called now, almost every voter said the PNM will retain power, holding on to all 20 seats in Trinidad and make gains wresting up to four marginal seats from the UNC. However, the ruling party is likely to go down to defeat to an amalgamation of opposition forces led by a new credible leader. Voters want an alternative leader who can take the opposition to victory.
Almost everyone interviewed, members, supporters, and the public over the last month in the tracking survey says the internal election favors Rowley and his slate. They said Rowley’s slate will sweep all fourteen positions. Several executive posts are unchallenged. They also said Rowley will defeat his opponents by a landslide. Many respondents note that it is almost impossible to defeat an incumbent leader who is a Prime Minister midway in a term of office especially that almost all Ministers, party MPs, Councillors, Aldermen, incumbent and past executives, and party groups are supporting Rowley. It will take a miracle for any challenger to unseat the incumbent. Voters salute the challengers for their courage to go against the powerful leader. They said Karen Nunes-Tesheira will have the most support among challengers but not significant enough to threaten Rowley’s position as leader.
Relatedly, respondents welcome the one person one vote system among members to choose a party’s internal executives. They praise the PNM internal election officers and machinery for the transparency, openness, and integrity of the system thus far. Most of the public feel the PNM’s internal electoral system is more democratic than those of other parties.