The People’s Partnership’s “No Rowley” campaign backfired on them.
That’s the collective view of political analysts Dr Winford James, economist Indera Sagewan-Alli and Dr Bishnu Ragoonath.
Speaking on a panel last night on TV6, James said that the PP’s depiction of Dr Rowley was “brutish” and the rabidity of attacks levelled on him by the Partnership during the three-month long campaign had the opposite effect and actually endeared him to voters.
Sagewan-Alli noted that the PP’s election strategy pitted the two leaders against each other, and during the “No Rowley” campaign, the PP began another campaign of Kamla’s plan. However, that “shifting of strategy” didn’t diminish the “No Rowley” campaign. At the same time, Sagewan-Alli noted that Rowley was re-branded with the town hall “conversations” he had during the election campaign.
Ragoonath, who is also chair of the Council for Ethical Political Behaviour, explained that while there were many complaints from the public about the campaign, the PNM members on the council didn’t bother with it because it was actually working for them.
He said that one of the challenges faced was how much “picong” could be allowed on the platform , otherwise elections would be classified as “boring.”
James said that during the “No Rowley” campaign, the People’s Partnership tried to associate itself with a number of completed projects such as the Mayaro Fire Station and the Children’s hospital. This, he said, was their strategy to seem more viable and credible but fell flat given the fact that the Children’s Hospital was not yet operational.
Ex-PM’s popularity misused
While the PP sought to demonise Rowley, Sagewan-Alli opined that the PP used the popularity of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar “in a wrong way.”
“The party didn’t understand what the country expected,” she said.
She believed that the People’s Partnership would have won the 2015 general election had Persad-Bissessar been more judicious in her selection of candidates for this elections.
“If she had presented a new slate of candidates, she would have won because of her popularity. Her popularity was used in a wrong way. The elections became about her,” she said.
James noted that despite the PP’s defeat, they won the popular vote. He pointed out that the PNM moved from 12 seats in 2010 to 23 seats in 2015 which was a big progress for them. He noted that the UNC won 15 seats in 2007 and picked up four additional seats which was also progress for them.
“What it simply means is that we are more polarised than ever,” he observed.
They all agreed that the vote tally meant that the electoral process needed to be revisited to encompass proportional representation.
Kamla’s concession speech not gracious
Sagewan-Alli said that while former Chaguanas West MP Jack Warner did not win a seat and exited local politics, the ILP has earned over 600 votes which will allow them no say in the country’s governance.
For the PP’s loss, Sagewan-Alli criticised Persad-Bissessar for not congratulating Rowley on his victory or opting to go to the UNC’s traditional headquarters at Rienzi to greet supporters there.
“This was a Government that came in with such huge support. The fact that they lost it should require them to do some self examination and hopefully energise stronger,” said Sagewan-Alli.
On the other hand, James found that Persad-Bissessar was not gracious in her concession speech.