THE United National Congress (UNC) has conquered some PNM seats and kept a political fortress around most of its own.
The UNC wrested a total of nine seats from the PNM and the PNM took two seats from the UNC in yesterday’s local government elections.
The PNM won a total of 74 seats while the UNC won 69.
In terms of control of the 14 corporations, the local government electoral map changed from 8/6 in the PNM’s favour to an even 7/7.
The PNM lost the battleground corporation of Sangre Grande, which fell to the Opposition, which won five of the eight seats.
The PNM, which won the Sangre Grande North West seat in 2016 by 40 votes, lost it to the UNC.
The voter turnout was approximately 30 per cent, which is at the low end of the normal local government election turnout.
The PNM maintained control of San Fernando, but there was some slippage.
Its majority was reduced from 9/0 to 6/3.
And in one of the six seats it won, the margin of victory was just one vote.
The UNC also took a seat from the PNM in the Tunapuna/Piarco Corporation, reducing the PNM’s majority from 12/4 to 11/5.
But in San Juan/Laventille the PNM improved its position from 11/2 to 13/2.
The UNC maintained control in Chaguanas and increased its majority from 5/3 to 7/1. Among those losing their seat was PNM stalwart Ronald Heera.
The Opposition achieved the same feat in Princes Town, getting the one seat held by the PNM — Lengua/Indian Walk — to achieve full control of the Princes Town Regional Corporation.
Princes Town joins the Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo and Penal/Debe Corporations as municipals under the UNC’s exclusive control.
In the Rio Claro/Mayaro Corporation the PNM lost the Mafeking seat, taking the configuration from 4/2 to 5/1 in the UNC’s favour.
The PNM maintained exclusivity in Diego Martin (10/0), Port of Spain (12/0), Arima (7/0) and Point Fortin (6/0).
But the PNM’s dream of capturing Siparia remains elusive.
The UNC not only maintained control of Siparia but improved its showing from 5/4 to 6/3.
PM: The PNM won the most seats
However the Prime Minister was undeterred.
Giving a rousing addressing to the party faithful at Balisier House in Port of Spain last night, he seized upon the positives.
“The PNM is victorious. We have won the most seats,” he declared to applause.
Minutes earlier addressing the media, he reflected on the difficult choices which had to be made in order to maintain the country’s stability, which are never popular.
“We have dropped a couple of seats here and there, three in San Fernando and we picked up two seats in the San Juan/Laventille Regional Corporation.
He said the PNM had been hoping to “do better in Siparia”.
And in respect of Sangre Grande, he conceded that the PNM lost one seat but that the seats lost there were largely in the constituency of Cumuto/ Manzanilla.
“In a period of difficulty where we are the only ones who can be held accountable for any difficulty that anybody faces in this country, we have done remarkably well to maintain our position in this manner. Our candidates fought well. We had to fight very hard to maintain this position. It would have been more exciting if we had been able to make some breakthroughs. But this is not the time to make breakthroughs. We have pretty much held our ground. And we move on to the general election of 2020. The PNM is very eager for that contest,” he said.
“I am quite pleased. It could have been worse. We press on,” he said.
Addressing a question on the issue of the popular vote, the Prime Minister said the popular vote in local government doesn’t mean anything and is not a major indicator.
Change began yesterday
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar, speaking before a buoyant crowd in Siparia last night, said: “They outspent us a hundred to one. We remained on the ground with the people. So while it is nice to have money to spend, money can’t buy you love.”
“The people have spoken and have shown very clearly that they are totally fed up of the PNM. A change is coming and that change began today with the local government elections. The UNC won the popular vote,” she declared to cheers. She said she was pleased with the number of seats the UNC had won, noting that there would be recounts in San Fernando and Sangre Grande.
For Louis Lee Sing’s Port of Spain People’s Movement party, it was a dismal showing, getting fewer than 100 votes in most polling stations with the exception of Woodbrook.
“Dr Rowley was very correct. It is a latrine party given the response we got and Port of Spain may become a latrine city,” Lee Sing said last evening.