What Does a “Green Party” Win Mean for Trinidad & Tobago Politics?

Trinidad and Tobago‘s hotly contested Chaguanas West by-election ended with a resounding victory on Monday night for Jack Warner, who reclaimed his seat with a convincing win over his nearest competitor. Warner's newly formed Independent Liberal Party received 12,631 votes; the United National Congress (the party of the current Prime Minister), the ILP's closest rival and the party which Warner formerly chaired, garnered just 5,126 votes. The People's National Movement, which at present occupies the opposition bench in Parliament, managed to secure only 422 votes.

On voting day, prior to the ballots being counted, aka_lol published a post with some “random thoughts” on the by-election:

Random Thought 1

A vote for Jack is really a vote against Kamla.

Random Thought 4

For the many Green supporters in Trinidad and Tobago Jack, despite his reputed international affairs with money, is seen as more honest than the Kamla cabal. Before the Peoples Partnership got into power Jack was the moral and financial backbone of the party. Now that many contracts have been awarded and many of the select contractors paid, Jack’s money is now frowned upon by those who once were in love with it and slept with it nightly.

To the majority of supporters of the PP [the current People's Partnership coalition government], Kamla and company, after the unexpected big election victory, gave the spoils of the land to a small handful of financiers, completely forgetting why the country voted against the Manning [former Prime Minister and leader of the People's National Movement, which lost the last general election and is now in opposition] regime. Despite the outcome of the Chaguanas West by-election Kamla and Company must understand that a large section of their supporters are extremely dissatisfied with their performance and they are seen as vindictive, greedy, dishonest, and self-serving. The Kamla-led UNC cabal is seen as no different to Manning and his madness and probably are even worse.

The outcome certainly signals that people wanted a change. Once the results were confirmed, the same blogger published a follow-up post quoting from unidentified “newspapers”:

Article 1:

Despite hundreds of thousands of dollars from the usual sources pumped into the by-election campaign, the ruling party lost by a margin that makes huge look small. As the results started to come in just after eight last night, loud screams of pleasure could be heard throughout the country as it became apparent that Mr. Warner was beating the U.N.C along with their arrogance, vindictiveness and dignitaries to a proverbial pulp. Though the majority of citizens were not entitled to vote in the by-election they were satisfied that the people in power (PIP) was being taught the lesson they refused to learn over the last few years.

Article 2:
A very embarrassed…P.M. has blamed her election loss on the the abundance of those flashing blue lights on her dignitaries’ Prados. She theorized that those blue lights had a negative effect on voters in the Chaguanas West constituency causing them to see green instead of yellow at the polling stations.

Plain Talk took a more serious view of developments:

The results of the polls in Chaguanas West does not auger well for the future of Trinidad & Tobago…what happened in that election could well spell the beginning of a new grab for power among the elite, where candidates are bankrolled and placed in the House of Representatives as bargaining chips to negotiate directly on their behalf and in their interests.

He questioned the authenticity of the Warner campaign…

Does anyone really think that Jack did any of this on his own? Please, the man can barely speak, but what he represents is something far more sinister than we dared imagine, the enemy within.

In this land of lazy advocates and irresponsible citizens our desire for a fix-all messiah to solve all our problems has delivered us to our ending riding high on the promise of a box drain and a pavement, and a little way farther down the road we will arrive upon it, courtesy of our own selfish immaturity.

…then took a broader view of the situation:

We have had ample time to fix things, but for fifty one years we've been content to hobble from public drunken holiday to public drunken holiday as we slowly circled the drain. Now all we have left is hope, as in hope we don't end up in a public hospital needing treatment or God forbid hope we don't end up the victim of a crime. We the people of Trinidad & Tobago have failed our nation and our children by this action, and history will call for an accounting as to what drove us to this apparent madness.

Think I am wrong? Read the international news, see what the rest of the world thinks of our foolishness and understand how the world views us now. Sure, they will stick around long enough to know where we are on a map, until our petrochemical value runs out, but after that we're on our own, left to our own devices like the children of the other failed states who, having had their moment in the sun, chose to use it to burn their own civilization down instead.

Demokrissy, meanwhile, suggested that the winds of political change were blowing, comparing them to “the breezes of the Arab Spring”:

Wherever these breezes have passed, they have left in their wake wide ranging social and political changes: Such additional demands on governments and public and private institutions for greater transparency, accountability, responsibility, fairness, balance and equity, performance and delivery of goods and services are pressuring not only so called anti democracies but also well established democracies of Americas, Europe and Asia. But in other parts there is a backlash and the breezes have been met with counter reprisals of oppressive curbs to civil liberties, human rights and freedoms.

So do you feel it? Here I mean, in the Caribbean. Or is it that we are in that time lag – between being informed and accepting the information?

Information – at least about the outcome of the by-election – was flowing freely on Twitter. Some Twitter users thought the results signaled a departure from tribal voting:

Crystal Dawn Jagdeo felt that it boiled down to performance:

Plain Talk remained unconvinced, saying:

The people of Trinidad & Tobago supported, rallied behind and elected to Parliament a man of international ignominy and with many, many questions of serious impropriety hanging over his head. We did this sober and with full control of our faculties, unforced and without coercion or duress. The obvious question then that begs to be asked is, what does that say about us as a people?

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