Opinion poll gives opposition lead in by-election; group calls for fresh general election
The main opposition People’s National Movement (PNM) appears heading to inflict a third consecutive defeat on the ruling coalition People’s Partnership government in the November 4 by election, according to the latest opinion poll published here on Sunday.
In addition, a civil society group has launched a national petition calling for general election “now” more than a year before it is constitutional due claiming that the population has lost confidence in the Kamla Persad Bissessar administration.
The opinion poll, published in the Sunday Express newspaper shows that the PNM candidate, Terrence Deyalsingh, enjoys a 39 per cent rating, as compared to 26 per cent for television talk show host, Ian Alleyne of the United National Congress (UNC), the biggest partner in the four-member coalition, and 19 per cent for attorney OM Lalla, who is the candidate of the Independent Liberal Party (ILP) headed by former national security minister Austin “Jack” Warner.
The poll, commissioned by the Express newspapers, was conducted on October 25-26 by Solution by Simulation, the company that successfully named the PNM as winners in the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) elections in January and Warner’s by-election victory in the Chaguanas West constituency in July.
According to the pollsters, 280 eligible voters were interviewed and the poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.98 per cent.
The pollsters also found that 14 per cent of the voters were undecided and that independent candidate, Errol Fabien and Michael Lopez of the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) “received negligible support”.
The by-election was occasion after Speaker Wade Mark on September 9 declared the St. Joseph seat vacant after former High Court judge, Herbert Volney, who was elected as parliamentary representative in the 2010 general elections on a UNC ticket, announced he had resigned from the party.
This will be the fourth election that the coalition would be facing in 2013, having lost the THA, the Chaguanas west by-election and the October 21 Local Government elections.
The next general election is constitutionally due here in 2015, but the group “FIXIN T&T” in a full page newspaper advertisement on Sunday said that it wanted the voters to elect a new government.
It listed a number of reasons for the poll including three major cabinet re-shuffles since 2010, a “blatant disregard for our Constitution” as well as “the ill conceived and failed State of Emergency” and the arrest of “hundreds of citizens and charged without a shred of evidence”.
The group has also made reference to the controversial Section 34 of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act that would have allowed persons with matters before the court for more than 10 years to walk free and a verdict of not guilty entered against their names.
The section has since been repealed but critics say it was aimed at freeing two financiers of the ruling party who are facing criminal charges both here and in the United States.
In addition, FIXIN T&T said that the Persad Bissesar administration has been engaged in “relentless attacks” on independent institutions and their officers as was as the country having to deal with a stagnant economy.
It said since 2010, nine government ministers have been fired and one other resigned following the findings of an international commission and that the election would put a halt to “the unprecedented allegations of corruption, nepotism and willful misrepresentation of qualifications at every turn” as well as “the tarnishing of Trinidad and Tobago’s regional and international reputation.”