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Vote was against PM, says Dumas
There was an immediate impact on the Prime Minister’s People’s Partnership (PP) Government and the Opposition People’s National Movement (PNM). That’s what Independent Liberal Party (ILP) leader Jack Warner’s Chaguanas West by-election victory did on Monday, say commentators Former public service head Reginald Dumas said: “To some extent Monday’s result was a vote of no confidence against the Prime Minister.
“She campaigned heavily in the area as though it was a general election and she understood the implications for herself, her party and her government. “What happened on Monday was a rebuff of the PM as UNC political leader and head of Government so she’s lost face but not enough for her to have to step down.” Dumas said the PM could still continue operating, assuming PP MPs maintained the government majority.
However, he said, that pressure might be brought to bear on her to step down since some may say the PM lost the Tobago House of Assembly elections and now the Chaguanas West seat. He added: “But she should always considers carefully and consults as widely as possible before she jumps.” Whether the PP becomes a lame-duck government or a general election might be necessary, he said, would depend on what PP movements were made to cross the Parliament floor and join Warner’s ILP.
He added: “That is, whether MPs, like UNC’s Winston Peters, Fuad Khan, Herbert Volney and others, including the Congress of the People’s (COP) Anil Roberts, Rodger Samuel and Lincoln Douglas, stay with the PP. “We have to wait and see what transpires. If a lot of MPs cross the Government may be without the majority and little credibility and the PM would have no choice but to call elections,” Dumas said.
He said Warner’s win was a game-changer “but one has to watch carefully to see the nature of the game. Civil society groups must be very vigilant in what’s going to happen as changing the game is not sufficient. “What he’s done has changed the face of politics in the way Eric Williams did in the 1950s. We haven’t had this in the last 55 years. I’m not talking of how Williams ran the show but merely comparing how Jack is returning to Parliament now,” he added.
Dumas said Warner was very good at “nursing” Chaguanas West as a minister and people identified with his efforts. He said: “Constituents may very well have thought they might be ‘neemakaharams’ if they didn’t vote for him after he helped them so it wasn’t so much about abandoning party politics as sending a message to MPs that they better buck up. “This means there are no safe seats anywhere again and PNM leader Keith Rowley better understand that.
“He did not do so well in 2010 in his area and it would be quite wrong of the PNM to feel they are bound to win in Laventille and the bulk of the East West Corridor. Those days ended Monday.” On whether the COP is now irrelevant, Dumas asked to what COP had been relevant. Political analyst Derek Ramsamooj, however, said the results, rather than a no-confidence vote against the PM, meant the UNC leadership needed to revisit how it structured delivery of goods and services to the public.
He said: “There’s sufficient period in mid-term for any administration to restrategise its political image and branding. “This must be adhered to if the UNC wishes to retain political office next general election. “There’s been high level of dissatisfaction with the UNC, not only as a political institution but concerning the leadership’s delivery of goods and services to Chaguanas West.” He added: “There’s clear possibility of the danger of political implosion within the PP.
“It’s evident issues, such as corruption, accountability and transparency, are irrelevant to Chaguanas West constituents and representation that supports personal benefit without consideration of ethics and morality have emerged. “The PP must develop a pragmatic agenda that will bring everything to communities if they wish to be successful at local government polls. “What’s required is a legislative agenda making the crossing of the floor act a legislative reality. This is paramount to prevent political defection.
“Without it, there’s a high possibility implosion may occur and a general election may have to be held before constitutionally due.” Ramsamooj said constitutionally Government still had enough parliamentary support. “In time we will assess whether Chaguanas West was a political anomaly or if there are no safe seats again and whether party loyalty, transparency, integrity and accountability have truly become the victims of constituency representation.”
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