How they voted
By Gail Alexander
Heading to Government for another term, the People’s National Movement (PNM) completed yesterday’s general election race with preliminary results of 26 seats over the United National Congress’ (UNC-A) 15 seats.
Both parties trounced the new Congress of the People (COP) which lost in all of the 41 constituencies.
COP leader Winston Dookeran—who lost his former St Augustine seat—conceded defeat by 10.45 pm.
PNM leader Patrick Manning—who appeared set to lead his party back into Government for another term—declared victory where his own San Fernando East seat was concerned, at 11.20 pm.
Manning said the constituency which had elected him to serve for a tenth consecutive year, had made history with the move.
He also called for the public to put aside all animosities now that the election was over.
“The one thing we know is that in a society like ours we must dwell together in harmony,” Manning added.
Manning left south Trinidad to head up to PNM’s Balisier House headquarters, where a packed courtyard of PNMites in red had been celebrating since 10 pm when the party’s lead had been established.
Manning took the PNM to victory in 1991. He also headed a PNM Government in 2001 for a year following the 18-18 election deadlock of that year. And he again headed the PNM which won the 2002 election with 20 seats.
PNM’s campaign manager Conrad Enill, speaking at 12.30 am, said the preliminary results for the party was a 26-seat win.
Panday: Tremendous success for UNC-A
Over at UNC headquarters—where supporters had started gathering since 8 pm—UNC leader Basdeo Panday said around 10.50 pm that his party had had tremendous success.
Panday who won his Couva North seat—and will be returning to the Parliament—added:
“The people have lost and the “mafia” has won. Crime has won, high prices have won and other problems in T&T have won since all of those things will continue. If that is what people want, well they will have it.
“One thing I do know is that if I were Mr Manning I would reward Winston Dookeran very handsomely because had the COP not split the opposition votes, the UNC-A would have won the elections.”
Based on the results up to that time, Panday agreed, the UNC-A would be heading to the Opposition bench of the Parliament.
Panday said he did not know if he would be Opposition Leader.
He added: “Our MPs will meet and decide, but that doesn’t matter. The point is that the mafia has won since they got the COP to split the votes and made it possible for the PNM to win. And if this is what the people want they have got it.”
According to yesterday’s preliminary results of 15 UNC seats, the party now has one less than the 16 seats it possessed in the last Parliament.
Dookeran: T&T not ready for change
At COP headquarters—where some supporters had gathered—COP leader Dookeran said on television in a solemn tone:
“From the disappointing results we have seen the country is not ready for the change we offered. We still believe a change will one day become the reality for people in T&T.
“Let us not consider this day the darkest day in T&T as you will be tempted to do.
“Let us look at it as an effort made by thousands of citizens and to break the politics of the past and give the politics of the future a change.”
Dookeran, who said the COP was here to stay and that the youth of the T&T would “do what is right,” added:
“For now the politics of the past has won but I know we are right and it will happen.”
Dookeran lost the St Augustine seat which he had won initially under a UNC ticket.
UNC’s Vasant Bharath won the seat for UNC last night.
Dookeran had formed the COP with several former UNC MPs last September when they fell out with the UNC leadership.
PNM took an early lead in several seats including San Juan/Barataria and Pointe-a-Pierre. UNC picked up its safe seats including Mayaro, which Winston Peters won.
The total registered electorate was 990,352.
EBC estimates put yesterday’s voter turn-out at around 53 per cent. This was at midnight, when boxes of ballots were still coming in.
The voter turnout in the 2002 election was approximately 69 per cent.
Yesterday’s voting exercise which started at 6 am and ended at 6 pm, was free from violence, police confirmed.
There were several complaints from the UNC and COP on various issues.