ON the heels of having appointed a committee aimed at revival in urban communities mainly in and around Port of Spain, the Prime Minister has announced August 10 as the general election date.
The election comes at a moment when citizens in several communities are voicing complaints about neglect and discontent among the country’s youth as demonstrated in the protests which held the country’s attention in the early days of this week. In the main, these protests were mobilised in communities controlled by the Prime Minister’s party, and where voters have remained loyal to the Balisier, in the period since 1956.
After having begun the process months ago for the screening and selection of candidates, it was just on Thursday the ruling party completed its slate for the 41 seats to be contested. This was in Port of Spain South, one of several constituencies in which the party had to have more than one go at candidate selection. In what was mere hours before yesterday’s eagerly awaited announcement, the party selected Port of Spain attorney Keith Scotland as its candidate for this heartland constituency.
The United National Congress (UNC), the party in Opposition, in the now defunct 2015-2020 Parliament, is set to conclude its candidate selection exercise this weekend, with a majority of key constituencies already decided.
A lot is at stake as the campaign swings into full throttle, in a season that is just five weeks long.
The ruling party will no doubt go all out to embellish its message over these last five years as the party of decency in office, of good governance and of financial rectitude.
The UNC will continue seeking to hammer home its message of a Government that has lacked the requisites for managing in today’s world. Just yesterday, the Opposition Leader was accusing the Prime Minister of incompetence as she responded to the appointment of the special team to address burning issues in the so-called urban “hotspots”.
As the campaign kicks off in earnest this weekend, it is as good a time as any to remind all the players of the need to keep it clean. The Council for Responsible Political Behaviour has already issued guidelines for the conduct of speakers on the platforms and in the general execution of all activities regarding the campaign. These include prohibitions against character assassination of candidates and/or members of their families and, where the Government especially is concerned, cautions against the temptation to use State resources for campaigning or electioneering.
The council has warned that where it notices any infractions, it will bring them to the attention of the public.
One critical element of this campaign is it will be conducted in the midst of all the protocols surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic. Included here are the wearing of masks in public and social distancing, such that public congregation of more than 25 persons is not allowed.
These will make for a new feature in the campaign, creating a unique atmosphere in which the people’s franchise is being sought.
We must go forward now and demonstrate over the next five weeks the political maturity of which we have become known, selecting the team that will take charge of our political and administrative affairs over the next parliamentary term.
Foremost among the considerations will be the certainty that the world as we know it has been rendered a radically different space, with new norms being developed as we speak.