Trinidad & Tobago: Election Fever

With one action, the prorogation of Parliament, Trinidad and Tobago‘s Prime Minister thrust the country into election mode. (The constitution of the twin island republic states that from the moment Parliament is dissolved, a general election must be held in no fewer than 35 days and no more than 90). As the news broke, the blogosphere was rife with speculation that the move was made to pre-empt a no-confidence motion against Manning that had been scheduled for debate today in the House of Representatives, as well as to avoid the fallout over the report of the Uff Commission of Enquiry into the Construction Sector, which was critical of the modus operandi of the state-owned Urban Development Corporation of T&T (UDeCOTT) – which is not to say that bloggers are not asking other critical questions, some even as basic as “When?”

Trinidad and Tobago girls, politics, sports, technology, carnival, and lifestyle, however, starts with the “Why?”:

Why now? Why would the Prime Minister risk losing Government with not even 3 years of his five-year term behind him?
Why? Why when the country can still call on record revenue and a commanding majority in Parliament?

The analysts are pinning it on the no-confidence motion; or Calder Hart. But as Chris Rock asked when speaking on the Columbine shootings, “Whatever happened to crazy?”
It's quite possible Manning is just a nut. A lunatic.

But, the blogger continues, there may be some method to the “madness”:

Suppose you're Manning and you have the preliminary findings of the Lindquist investigation into Calder Hart and UDECOTT…

At that point it suddenly hits the Prime Minister; the PNM will lose the Elections if they wait five years, and worse yet, in a few months time, there is a definite concern that his own Party will finally realise what all have said, that he, Mr. Manning, is the millstone 'round the PNM's neck.

He thinks farther ahead, what would happen if his Party turns against him? Well they'd see new leadership, wouldn't they…Who would they turn to, he ponders? Dr. Keith Rowley!

Now if you were Prime Minister Manning you'd know that is your worst case scenario. So how do you stop that? You call a General Election!

It's a win-win scenario for Manning.

In contrast, gspottt‘s focus is squarely on “engaging in the political process and advocating for what GLBT people need” and posts a survey to that effect.

Twitter (#Trinidad) is also abuzz with the news. @izatrini asks:

So when is election in #Trinidad and #Tobago

@Jahriv links to a recent article in Foreign Policy magazine and quips: – Let the politicking begin! #trinidad – PS don't read if you intend to vote #PNM – you might just get swayed!

@nissandookeran, meanwhile, advises tweeple to check online to verify whether they are registered to vote:

#trinidad Check your voter registeration status, takes less than 2 minutes here:

…and @nplaughlin muses:

So: a general election some time in the next three months. #Trinidad

Regional bloggers are also weighing in on political developments in Trinidad and Tobago. Moving Back to Jamaica comments:

The battle has begun between the PNM and UNC/COP over who will rule Trinidad and Tobago, courtesy of a snap election called by Prime Minister Patrick Manning yesterday.

Last night, this fact was ignored in our television newscasts. This morning, only a single newspaper bothered to mention it in a report lifted verbatim from the news-wires.

Why should Jamaicans care?

Well, we need to remember that the person being elected is also the de facto CEO of some of our most important companies.

Francis Wade goes on to examine “the stake that the Trinidadian government has in Jamaica's economy”:

Now that elections are upon us all, what's the deeply unpopular Patrick Manning likely to do?

Will he defend the equally unpopular Air Jamaica deal as he fights for his political life? Or will he abandon his aspirations to rule the airways of the region, leaving the Government of Jamaica with empty hands?

How much does he value the deal? How much does he care that the IMF is quite likely to hold Jamaica to its promise to get rid of the airline by a certain, non-negotiable date?

Is he willing to take a stand for the Air Jamaica acquisition on a point of principle, and fulfill his part of the bargain?

Trinidadians will tell you, with a laugh, that they know the answer to that question.

He ends the post with an admonishment:

We need to pay attention to the rest of the Caribbean region, so that we can start to learn how to do business with countries that know much more about us, than we know of them…

I doubt that the IMF cares who is in power in Trinidad, and whether or not they are corrupt, but… (Hello!!) we MUST.

Meanwhile, Barbados’ Cheese-on-bread! seems amused:

Wuhloss. These days Governments in the Caribbean are falling apart faster than a Hollywood marriage.

But Trinidadian diaspora blogger Jumbie's Watch has the last word, by dint of the title of his post, in which he simply asks:
“The end?”

The thumbnail image used in this post, “The finger that voted”, is by caribbeanfreephoto, used under a Creative Commons license. Visit caribbeanfreephoto's flickr photostream.

1 comment

  • wachell murray

    About the Trade Unions in Gov. My understanding about Trade Unions is that they came about in the earlies because of inequality mainly among the lower working class who were mostly Negroes and poor people of any race any Gov in this time and age that thinks it is necessary to embrace Trade Unions as a way of finding suitable way to treat the working Public cannot be serious about moving forward.If you converse with any youth who will be leading us Tomorrow they will not see the significance.So when the UNC goes into Power they will be doing the same thing the PNM Gov. attempt to because if they are Intelligent as the say they are then they will now doubt see this Scenario and act. What will happen in Parliament then. and remember T&T is a part of the World so the Gov. does not act only in the best interest of its People.don’t be fooled into thinking that. Selah

Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.