From the Horse’s Mouth

The PNM juggernaut, the spawn of Panday, untrammeled power (Panday), unrelenting (Panday), Basdeo’s heartland (Central), back room / Rotary boys (political power brokers), the cult of Winston (COP), languishing in political hell (the COP), omnibus party (ideal)… 

The above are all quotations / paraphrases from Darius Figueira’s presentation at the Constitutional Affairs and Parliamentary Studies Unit’s (CAPSU) Post-Election Forum, which was held yesterday in the Social Sciences Lounge at the University of the West Indies St. Augustine. 

Figueira, a former UNC insider, used his strong voice and command of language, to present a dark view of the events leading up to and in the aftermath of the 2007 Trinidad and Tobago General Election. His presentation was divided into the themes of Parricide, Infanticide, and Fratricide.

The morning session was chaired by Ms. Maukesh Basdeo and comprised of brief presentations by: Dr. Bishnu Ragoonath, Dr. Kirk Meighoo, Darius Figueira and Dr. Hamid Ghany.

The second session was moderated by Dr. Ghany and consisted of brief talks by various candidates for the 2007 election: Dr. Roodal Monlilal (UNC-A), Mr. Nirad Tewarie (COP), Dr. Daphne Phillips (UNC-A), Dr. Raghunath Mahibir (PNM). Ms. Pennelope Beckles (PNM) and Ms. Gillian Lucky (COP) both sent their apologies.

The issues that came up were not unfamiliar, but it was good to hear it in person, from the so-called experts, the people who contended elections, the party insiders, the scientists and analysts.

 Major issues (in my mind):

  • campaign – the unprecedented levels of spending on media / advertising blitz, the blatant abuse of state funds for electioneering purposes, the need for campaign financing policies, alleged underhanded tactics on the eve and day of the election
  • geography – constituencies, districts and polling stations (know them, they play a role in strategy)
  • history – learning from past results (the failure of third parties on their own, the collapse of alliances)
  • key demographics – the difficulties of creating broad appeal in society divided by race, class, religion…
  • kinds of voters – people who are undecided, who can swing either way (floating), people who are so against a particular party that they will rather vote for another, people who are so against a particular leader that they will rather vote for a party with another leader
  • polls (NACTA, Ryan, Ansa McAl…) – the effect of the findings on voters, the need to critically assess the methodologies used
  • representation – the electoral / constitutional structure faciliatating the  denial of representation to segments of voters, value of possible electoral and / or constitutional reform

Let us take a page from the US (something that I do not intend to say very often).  Election campaigning should not be limited to just a few weeks.  Months of ground-work would lay a stronger foundation, that is, give the population time to really familiarize themselves with the parties, their positions and policies and to form an opinion. START FROM NOW. 

Congratulations to CAPSU for organizing such an event, hope to see many more like it.

It is a pity that so few young people (UWI students especially) came out, but there is always the next event.




Note: The event was carried live on 91.1 FM and recorded by CNMG.



~ by mangoandmosquitoblog on January 10, 2008.

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