Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has gotten a “bounce” in her step as the United National Congress (UNC) goes forward into the 2020 general election.
And the People’s National Movement (PNM) has some introspection to do with respect to the large amount of money spent on the local government campaign which saw them lose ground.
These were some of the views shared by political analysts Dr Bishnu Ragoonath and former head of the public service Reginald Dumas following Monday’s local government election.
“Clearly it gives Kamla Persad-Bissessar a bounce as she prepares to go into the general election. It is up to the UNC to build on the momentum from this election and keep it going and maximise on that bounce,” said Ragoonath.
He said the PNM’s election campaign was “desperate” and he believes Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s call for voters to come out on election day was a sign that the party knew it was going to face a battle.
The PNM, he said, needs to re-strategise as to how it moves forward and focus on why their base core voters did not lend support as they did in 2016.
“While the base is still somewhat solid there has been some disillusionment, some disenchantment with the PNM and that in itself has caused some fallout within the core,” he said.
Ragoonath added that the strategies used by the PNM failed to have an impact.
“In this particular election we saw the PNM using various strategies to try and undermine the UNC—they came with the Cambridge Analytica and when they realised that did not give them the kind of impact that they wanted then we went on to talking about marijuana and until the last few days before election we went to the Bail Bill, all in an attempt to demonise the UNC, but I don’t think they were able to bring about that and that’s why I say there was some degree of desperation in the PNM campaign and governance,” he said.
He added that the Prime Minister’s comment that his Government made “hard decisions” was just a “convenient excuse”.
Dumas said both the PNM and the UNC must reflect carefully on the results for different reasons.
He said the PNM, from the amount of money spent on the campaign, should consider that this did not help them maintain a strong hold as in the previous election.
Dumas said in other countries during mid-term elections, it is not unusual for voters to register their votes against a government to send a clear message and to push them to “pull up their socks”.
“I don’t think it is a disaster for the PNM but they have to watch themselves,” he said.
He added this was not validation for Persad-Bissessar and she, too, must also reflect on the results as the voter turn-out was low.
Dumas also expressed concern over the geographical implications of the election results.
“What you have is an urban party versus a rural party and I don’t think we have been looking at that as to how do governments deal with the country as a whole.
“I am concerned quite frankly about this situation which I see, which is tribal and goes on race, but it is also regional and it is also social and I don’t like it, it is not good for the country and I think the two parties have a duty and a responsibility in their reflections after what happened yesterday (Monday) to take that into their deliberations...what are we going to do about the country as a whole?” he said.
The parties, he added, need to consult with the people because they behave as they are “all knowing” and they need to connect with the people in the street and address their issues.