September 24, 2010

End of an Era in T&T

Coat of Arms, Trinidad & TobagoImage via WikipediaYesterday a wave of change swept right over the twin-island republic of Trinidad and Tobago. The ruling PNM experienced its second largest defeat in its just over half-a-century existence. A veritable tsunami of voters came out to give life to the hit calypso by Edwin 'Crazy' Ayoung 'Patrick Manning Have To Go', aided & abetted by Winston 'De Fosto' Scarborough's 'Ah Cyar Vote Fuh Dat'. Well before the midnight hour it became clear that a tectonic shift in the balance of power had occurred leading to the country's first madam Prime Minister. Final results put the Peoples Partnership led by Kamla Persad-Bissessar ahead in 29 seats (almost double the 15 seats held at the last election), while the PNM under Patrick Manning could only muster 12 (way less than the 26 they started with).

Calling a snap election with just over half the 5-year mandate given to his party remaining, the 64-year old soon-to-be ex-PM must have expected to catch his political opponents with their proverbial 'pants down', bargaining that Kamla had not had time to consolidate her new position as Opposition Leader and would fail to unite the forces opposed to the PNM in time. With corruption charges swirling around him (due to UDECOTT, Guanapo church, etc.), crime rates (including murders) at an all-time high, misplaced focus on billion-dollar building projects while Trini Public could obtain neither basic health-care nor a regular water supply, his personal popularity somewhere below ground level, one is left to wonder at the sanity of that decision. It brings to mind an ancient proverb in the time of the Greeks: "Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad."

The 58-year old Persad-Bissessar already created history earlier this year - on January 24 she displaced the 77-year old party founder Basdeo Panday to be elected the first female Political Leader (and previously had been appointed as the first female Attorney General). In a move reminiscent of the NAR coalition which in 1986 handed the then PNM its worst ever political defeat in a 33 - 3 landslide victory, the lady leader assembled together a grouping of disparate forces including her UNC, the COP of Winston Dookeran and the TOP - a Tobago-based party, going on to oversee the conduct of an intense election campaign. In an ironic twist of fate it was that very defeat by the coalition NAR a quarter of a century ago that elevated the little known Patrick Augustus Manning as one of only three survivors, to the position of political leader and ultimately, Prime Minister - his impending exit will now clear the way for a new leader to emerge in similar fashion to his own arrival at that time.

Here is a newspaper report from Trinidad and Tobago's Newsday.
An individual assessment beforehand on why it was Time For Change.
Some of the local flavor in VIDEOS: PNM and UNC Political Campaign Ads.
Election results graphically displayed in You Decide 2010 - Interactive Map.
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