If the constituents of Chaguanas West have done their homework, their choice of candidate in the by-election would be clear. History teaches us that the PNM has managed to remain in power in the past, because of a fracturing of the UNC.
In 2001, one year after the UNC won the elections, the break-away faction of Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, Trevor Sudama and Ralph Maraj, forced the then Prime Minister Basdeo Panday to hold an early general election. This resulted in the very famous 18/18 tie for seats, and led to the President appointing the PNM into Government. In 2002, after Parliament convened under the PNM, it failed twice to elect a speaker of the house. This meant that they could not debate or adopt a new budget, and another election was called where the PNM won the majority 20 of the 36 seats.
By 2007, there was another split in the UNC votes with the newly formed COP. At this election, the PNM won 26 of the now 41 seats; only 46% of the total votes, but enough to form the Government. The remaining 56% of the votes were split between UNC 30%, COP 23% and DAC 1%.
In the last general election in 2010, newly elected political leader of the UNC Mrs. Kamla Persad-Bissessar having learnt from the past, recognised that the only way to win the election was to unite political parties against the PNM. It was the coalition of UNC, COP, NJAC, TOP and MSJ that was able to secure a majority 29 seats and form the PP Government.
We are now faced with a similar break-away faction in the form of Jack Warner’s Independent Liberal Party which challenges the UNC for the same Chaguanas West seat. But even beyond this, Mr Warner has stated that he is also contesting the local Government Elections. People of Chaguanas West need to think carefully about who they will support on July 29. It is clear from our country’s history, that any vote against the PP Government, is a vote for the PNM. While this may not appear to be an immediate effect, history teaches us that these actions lead to the PNM inevitably regaining control of our country.