Nacta: Kamla must step aside before election

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Kamla Persad-Bissessar –

OPPOSITION Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar must step aside as UNC political leader before next year’s general election, to give the party a better chance of winning it.

The UNC’s probability of taking any seats away from the PNM is low. The friction between the UNC and its local government election partner, the National Transformation Alliance (NTA), is also hurting the party’s chances of electoral victory in 2025.

These were some of the findings of a North American Caribbean Teachers Association (Nacta) poll that was released on Friday.

The poll was based on interviews with 540 individuals representing the demographics of the nation spread across the so-called safe and marginal constituencies. The margin of error is +/- four per cent, with data analysed at 95 per cent confidence interval.

The poll found the Prime Minister and Persad-Bissessar both have very low approval and very high disapproval ratings.

But Nacta said Dr Rowley fares better in terms of approval with traditional PNM supporters, compared to Persad-Bissessar’s support among traditional UNC voters.

“The findings also reveal neither party has attracted significant cross-racial support but the PNM has attracted more Indo-Trinidadians than the UNC has attracted Afro and mixed Trinidadians. Indo-Trinidadians don’t see the UNC returning to office with the result that many party supporters, including financiers, have been gravitating towards and embracing the PNM. “

The UNC, Nacta continued, does not attract similar crossover support from Afro- or mixed Trinidadians.

“The latter further reduces the electoral prospect of UNC capturing government whenever elections are held.”

Nacta said UNC supporters and unaligned voters say Persad-Bissessar served the party well in and out of government and should “prepare it for succession before the next general elections to enhance its prospect (of victory).”

The UNC’s victory prospects are also reduced by the presence of MPs, senators and caretakers in PNM constituencies and other people “who have very low likeability ratings with voters nationally.”

Nacta said the poll’s respondents believed some of these people would find it almost impossible to get a job outside politics.

The public, Nacta continued, also feels the UNC needs rebranding, revamping, and reform to increase its chance of electability.

“Middle of the road, floating, unaligned voters as well as many who traditionally vote UNC said would like to see a revamped UNC with credible parliamentary candidates of repute and integrity.”

Based on the trends obtained from the latest findings and from surveys conducted last year, Nacta predicted the PNM would hold on to its 20 seats in Trinidad and “is projected to pick up three marginal seats held by the UNC with the possibility of a fourth, thereby winning the next general elections due by November 2025.”

St Joseph could be the UNC’s best prospect to win an additional seat, should incumbent PNM MP Terrence Deyalsingh not stand for re-election.

But Nacta said the selection of Opposition Senator Anil Roberts as UNC caretaker for the constituency would not help the party win it.

Nacta said respondents believed NTA political leader Gary Griffith had a good chance of winning St Joseph if he contested it.

Anil Roberts –

Roberts, Nacta continues, has certain disadvantages which make the UNC’s prospects of winning St Joseph dim.

Those include his limited traction, with only traditional UNC supporters; and “his loud outbursts and personal attacks are a turnoff and not helpful to UNC to win over floating voters.”

The UNC and NTA formed an alliance for last August’s local government elections, which ended in a seven-seven tie between the PNM and UNC. The NTA won no districts or corporations in those elections.

Griffith has been at odds with Persad-Bissessar over her comments at a UNC meeting in February about smaller parties piggybacking on the UNC.

He said Persad-Bissessar was being disrespectful of the contribution of smaller political parties to helping the now defunct UNC-led People’s Partnership coalition defeat the PNM in the 2010 general election.

The UNC-NTA alliance is in limbo as the NTA pursues its own series of public meetings and the UNC tries to attract other political parties to join it.

The UNC and NTA each recently said they would be screening candidates for all 41 constituencies.