Weeks after announcing they would be contesting all seats in the August 10 General Election, the Patriotic Front yesterday pulled out saying they did not have enough time to mobilise themselves.
In a statement posted to social media, PF leader Mickela Panday confirmed the party will not be participating in this year’s polls despite also being approached by other political entities to do so.
“While we were given a variety of other options and approached by other parties and politicians, we believe we needed to stay true to the foundations upon which our party has been built. And it is for this reason the Patriotic Front has made the difficult decision not to contest the 2020 general election but to build our party into a socio-political force to be reckoned with,” Panday said.
On June 26, Panday had announced that the party intended to contest all 41 seats in the then still-to-be announced polls. She also announced that her father, former prime minister and United National Congress founder Basdeo Panday, would be the party’s campaign manager.
A week later, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley announced the election date.
Yesterday, Panday explained that the party, which was launched in May 26 last year, did not have enough time to present itself to the country as it wished.“It has never been our intention to split anybody’s vote but to appeal to the more than 50% of the electorate, registered and unregistered, who do not vote at all,” the former Oropouche West MP said.
“We will not do as others have done in past, saying things merely to gain favour, popularity or political power. To achieve this will require us sharing our target with our target voters, our plans to bring this vision to fruition. And to give all of our candidates a fair chance in the 2020 general election.
“We do not believe that this can be done in three weeks. It will not be an injustice to our young bright new candidates but to the country as a whole.”
She added, “The Patriotic Front was not born merely to fight elections, it was to born to restructure our society. We face the uphill battle of securing campaign financing in an accountable and transparent manner, which is necessary to put in place the requisite election machinery.”
Contacted on the party’s decision yesterday political analyst Dr Winford James said it was not unsurprising but was the right decision for the young party.
James said unless the Patriotic Front was able to ‘steal’ a large contingent of United National Congress (UNC) supporters via their connection to Basdeo Panday and sway the independent vote, the party had little to no chance in the upcoming elections.
“You don’t come on the eve of elections and hope to make any significant dent. So it was the right decision and it was the unsurprising decision. Hopefully, now she will set about building a party through hard work for the next five years. And she will challenge not only the UNC but the PNM,” James said.