Political scientist Dr Bishnu Ragoonath. –
POLITICAL scientist Dr Bishnu Ragoonath is not yet convinced that the two newest political parties, the National Transformation Alliance (NTA) and the Trinidad-leg of the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP), can successfully challenge the PNM or UNC in a national election – be it local government or general.
He is suggesting the two parties first seek to influence the 40 per cent of the electorate which feels under represented by the two traditional political parties as this 40 per cent could be the ideal platform to mount a serious election challenge.
Ragoonath said the ruling People’s National Movement (PNM) and the Opposition United National Congress (UNC) combined, only represent 60 per cent of the electorate.
“That means there is about 40 per cent of the electorate who do not see themselves represented by either the PNM or the UNC.
“That in itself suggests that a significant proportion of the electorate, which on its own will not necessarily win an election, but if that constituency consolidates and inroads can be made in the bases of the PNM or UNC, then that could spell disaster for any one of the two dominant parties,” Ragoonath said.
He added, “At this point, I am not convinced they would be making headway into the traditional bases of the PNM or UNC but which ever one of those third parties can capture that unrepresented constituency – that would be a significant victory.”
Only after capturing that 40 per cent constituency, should there be concerns about making inroads into the traditional bases of either the UNC or PNM.
Commenting on Winston Dookeran’s perspective of third-party labels placing the NTA and PDP at a disadvantageous position, Ragoonath said there are two traditional parties in TT and this is a fact.
“Once you are not part and parcel of those two traditional parties, any other party will always be a third party. In that context, that would always be a stigma attached to the other parties.
“It is everybody’s right to start a political party to contest an election to challenge the traditional, dominant parties and that is what the PDP and the NTA have proposed.”
Former police commissioner Gary Griffith said his NTA party, which he recently launched, is gaining traction and media attention, both locally and abroad.
He sees his party as the bridge between the two main political entities and non-voters and those who have voted along traditional lines.
In other words, he said, he views the NTA as creating a balance between voting biases.
THA deputy chief secretary Watson Duke’s Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) party has already ensconced itself in Tobago where it holds a whopping 14-1 majority in the Assembly and he is promising to share some of that love in Trinidad, with a similar outcome.