2015 September 8.


The General Elections 2015 are finally over and the country can now exhale. Having dragged the electoral process out by more than three months after the “past due’ date of May 24th, for no other reason than to satisfy her personal ambition of saying that she served five full years and being able to unveil plaques on government buildings “opened” by her, Mrs. Kamla Persad-Bissessar was yesterday made a one term Prime Minister by the electorate of Trinidad and Tobago.
The Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) firstly congratulates the people of Trinidad and Tobago for peacefully and in a mature manner, exercising their democratic right of choosing a government. The election process took place in an atmosphere of civic responsibility which transcended the deep divisions of party, race, religion and geography which characterise our party politics. This augurs well for the future. The MSJ wishes to congratulate the People’s National Movement and in particular its Political Leader, Dr. Keith Rowley, on their very significant electoral success in winning the 2015 General Elections and thus being this country’s next Government. We wish Dr. Rowley the very best as he takes on the onerous task of Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago.
We have noted many of the statements made by Dr. Rowley on the platform during the election campaign as well as his victory speech last night, which have signaled that as Prime Minister he would commit to a leadership that seeks to unite rather than to divide and to develop consensus among all sectors of the national community as we face major difficulties given the state of the economy and the stabilizing of the ship of state. This gives some measure of hope to citizens who have had to endure instability, uncertainty and a crisis of governance virtually every Monday morning in the last five years.
We wish to point out, however, to the new Prime Minister that he and his government will be under the intense glare of the spotlight of a people who have, time and time again, demonstrated that they will punish at the polls anyone who seeks to abuse office and practice bad governance. For anyone who may doubt this, the results of yesterday’s elections provides conclusive proof. Very few leaders have been given a second term and when that has happened they did not last for the full five years of the second term.
It must be recalled that in the 34 years since 1981 when Dr. Eric Williams died in office to the present time we have had 10 General Elections (two of which – 2001 and 2002 – were the result of the UNC collapse in office and the subsequent 18-18 tie) and changed Prime Ministers no fewer than six times. It is clear that the people of Trinidad and Tobago in their long search for good government and better governance will not tolerate the abuse of office by any party in government. Thus, even though a large number of citizens has not been able to move much beyond the politics of race, religion and geography when it comes to choosing a party to vote for, at crucial moments, they have acted with collective wisdom in rejecting a government and its leadership for abuse of office and corruption.
This was the case of the rejection of Patrick Manning in 2010 and it was certainly the case with the rejection of Kamla Persad-Bissessar on September 7th, 2015. The democratic process, elections and the will of the people have acted as a check on the tendency of those who get elected to become run away horses high on power and office. As a country we therefore have to be thankful that we have not been saddled with long years of tyranny by the same government. As we look to the future, we point out that yesterday’s elections have not and cannot resolve the major crises which our country faces – the prefect storm which has been generated by the combination of an economy which is in a state of serious decline and collapsing institutions of state. The result of yesterday’s election does mean, however, that the country recognized that we could not possibly confront this perfect storm with the leadership of Kamla Persad-Bissessar and her UNC.
Dr. Rowley has been given the chance to offer leadership to pilot the ship of state safely through this perfect storm. The odds are not in his favour since the ship of state is not in good condition given that all the institutions of state have collapsed and thus their inability to generate the conditions for governance. This will test the vision and leadership of the new Prime Minister and his colleagues. For the country’s sake we wish them well.
David Abdulah
Political Leader
Movement for Social Justice