It's the end of an era
So what will happen if Manning loses tomorrow. "A lot of people will be happy to see him go," Ryan said. There would be concerns among certain elements of the population in terms of what they depend on from the State. It will definitely be the end of an era and a change to a different style of leadership."
It will be traumatic
However, Ryan said the reaction will be quite different if Persad-Bissessar loses. "It would be a massive letdown for a lot of people in the society who have come to welcome her presence as Leader of the Opposition. If on May 24 the coalition loses it will be quite traumatic for the system."
Which leader has what it takes to govern T&T? Will Prime Minister Patrick Manning return to Government or will the People's National Movement (PNM) administration be dethroned by Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar and the United National Congress (UNC) coalition. In the next 24 hours the electorate will be facing the polls to decide who will lead T&T. Polls and surveys have all placed the UNC coalition in a favourable position against the PNM, who is seen by some political analysts as the dark horse in the race. However, when interviewed by Sunday Guardian last week political analysts warned that the election race is not over until the fat lady sings. Pointing out that crowd support do not win electoral seats, analysts made reference to the 2007 general election where the Congress of the People (COP) failed to make any significant impact. While the COP attracted thousands of supporters at their massive rallies and were able to convince 148,041 voters the political party failed to secure one seat.
PNM a hard party to beat
Political analyst Dr Bishnu Ragoonath dismissed claims that the PNM was at a strong disadvantage. "From where I sit I have never seen the PNM as a dark horse in the race but rather as a horse until a few days ago. I will agree that the UNC coalition had peaked but the PNM was catching up with them so much so until last weekend they were running neck and neck." However, Ragoonath said the PNM was making some missteps on their campaign. He pointed out that the locking of the gates at the George Earle Park, St Joseph, and plans to implement the Property Tax Bill were resting heavily on the minds of indecisive voters. "Such recent incidents have some degree of concern among people who were sitting on the fence and not knowing what side to fall unto.
�2 Served as Prime Minister from 1991 to 1995 and then 2001 to present
�2 Longest serving MP since 1971
�2 Opposition Leader 1986 to 1990
�2 Brain child of Vision 20/20
People are also thinking that if the PNM wins the aluminium smelter will be built and we cannot forget the caving in of the roof at the President's house." Quickly pointing out that the PNM challenges may have given the UNC coalition an opportunity to pull ahead again, Ragoonath added: "The question is not whether the UNC coalition will have the popular vote. They may very well have popular votes but in our electoral system popular votes count for nothing; it is seats that win an election and that is where the UNC coalition will have to deal with critical issues. The question is how solid is the coalition in the PNM strongholds and will they be able to wrestle the seats from the PNM."
Also expressing similar sentiments was political scientist, Selwyn Ryan, who said the PNM must not be looked over. "The PNM has gained significant ground over the last few weeks. They are not an easy party to beat. They have experience on their side; machinery and troops. Uprooting the PNM is not and easy task. I will never suggest they will lose for one minute. What I will say is that both sides have resources. Crowd support do not win seats; you need them but much more is needed than crowd support. In the final analysis it is not the troops but how they are deployed. Both sides showed substantial numbers in political pot it is just waiting to see who will reign now."
�2 Set to create history as the first female prime minister ever in T&T
�2 First female Opposition Leader beating founder of the UNC Basdeo Panday
�2 Attorney General 1995 to 1996 then in 2001
�2 Acted Prime Minister in 2000 under the UNC
Coalition loss not about Kamla
Meanwhile, political anthropologist Dr Gabriel Hosein said if the UNC coalition fails to reign victorious tomorrow it will definitely not be specifically about Persad-Bissessar or the public perceptions of her capacity to rule. "What it will say is that the coalition was not able to use the election campaign period to successfully present a worthy and united front. This is something T&T has been very skeptical about since 1986 so if the coalition loses it will show a continued skepticism about multi racial, multi ethnic and party coalition experiment." If PNM fails to convince the electorate to allow them to serve another term, Hosein said it will clearly show that the electorate will not condone corruption. "Corruption is what an electorate is willing to vote on at the polls. Perhaps it is much like the ousting of the former Opposition Leader Basdeo Panday because of his authoritarian style of politics the population will be expressing its dissatisfaction with authoritarian leadership."
Analyst on COP leader:
He has a critical role in coalition
"The COP has brought certain people into the coalition who would not normally be there." Political scientist, Dr Bishnu Ragoonath, is foreseeing only ministerial portfolios for Dookeran and Ramadar now.
"That's as far as it goes at this point in time. The UNC would have one political leader and two deputies in Parliament and it would depend on how much stature the coalition wants to give to the COP. "I already heard finance issues are being considered and managed by Dookeran. "The important ministry of finance could very well go to the COP. This is a critical ministry in a government." Ragoonath said he expects Ramadar would get a high-ranking portfolio in the new government. "Legal affairs, attorney general...I don't know."
He can bow out as elder statesman
"It would be very serious if he doesn't," Ryan replied. "You can't take a defeated candidate and put him anywhere. If he has to be placed in a position in government, his credibility could be affected. "It's a risk Dookeran took and it shows he had courage of conviction that he could win the seat. "I hope he does," Ryan added. Meanwhile, Ragoonath said: "I don't know whether this would give him an exit strategy to bow out of politics and take the role of elder statesman. "It depends on how strong the COP is in government. They could make Dookeran governor of Central Bank." Ragoonath, like Ryan, felt the lesser the margin of victory, the greater the advantage for the COP. "If the UNC wins 19 seats and depends on two seats to become the government, it would give the COP an added advantage. "If the UNC wins 21 seats, it would reduce the impact of the COP in the partnership." Ragoonath said the Hamid Ghany Poll said that the COP will win Lopinot/Bon Air West and he noted: "If the COP brings more seats to the table, they will have a greater say."