PEP’s Phillip Alexander: Everyone lost local government elections

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Progressive Empowerment Party (PEP) political leader Phillip Edward Alexander at the Diego Martin Government Primary School after voting on Monday. – Jeff Mayers

Progressive Empowerment Party political leader Phillip Alexander has said both the PNM and UNC lost the August 14 local government elections, despite the 7-7 tie.

“Nobody won. Everyone lost,” he said. “The UNC and the PNM are celebrating an increase in the decrease. But everyone lost ground.”

Speaking to Newsday on Tuesday, he said UNC political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar “retreated” by teaming up with Gary Griffith’s National Transformation Alliance (NTA).

“The party is smaller because of the accommodations they made for the NTA. And the UNC’s numbers were less than what they got last election without the help of the NTA. Gary Griffith brought nothing to the table, and Jack Warner was worse. Warner brought nothing but some nonsense grandstanding. They have gone backward.

Claiming the voter turnout was ten per cent, Alexander said the PEP is now the best alternative to the larger parties.

The Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC), in a statement later Tuesday, said the voter turnout for Monday’s election was actually 30 per cent. The statement, however, also confirmed that the UNC polled 203,868 votes in winning the popular vote in 2019 but could only muster 173,961 votes on Monday, again securing the popular vote.

On Tuesday, Alexander said the PEP would go into full general-election mode and double down on its campaign trail to the 2025 general election.

“I have been talking to people all day – in the groceries, the gas stations, everywhere. I asked them why they didn’t vote. They said it’s because they get nothing in return.”

Describing the current political landscape as a “duopoly of race,” Alexander said people are fed up of lies, nasty campaigns and racism from more established parties.

He said while voter turnout was low, the PEP improved its position, despite earning his estimate of less than 1,000 votes overall.

Later, the EBC the PEP won 5,930 votes and its coalition partner the Reunited Farmers Association (RFA) won 1,041 votes.

“We are now a national party,” Alexander said. “We packed the Centre of Excellence – and we don’t have CEPEP workers to pack it like PNM and UNC. All the people that had on our gear bought it; we don’t have deep-pocketed financiers to pay for that, so we have to sell them.

“We are now in every nook and cranny of this nation. People know the PEP as an option and they are loving us. The party between June 6 and now are two different parties.

“We went into this elections as just one of the third parties, but with all the machinations and Gary joining the UNC and Jack Warner coming back, and people swallowing their vomit, and the PEP standing its ground and labouring on, the public realised that there are actually people with integrity in politics.”

But he admitted: “Is it enough to beat our chests and say we did well? No, but we have a situation where the public is looking desperately for something else, and there is nothing else but the PEP.”

He said the PEP fielded candidates for 47 of the 141 seats, as it did not have enough funding and people for all the seats. He added that people who wanted to vote for the PEP in areas it could not represent may have voted for other parties.

“Out of the one million people who did not vote, we brought a lot of them out, but their votes were counted as UNC or NTA or even PNM votes.”

He said moving forward, the PEP would use its shadow ministers and would turn its unsuccessful candidates into shadow councillors to work within communities.

“We will have a full clip of candidates for the general elections and the PEP will double down. I am going to go back to everywhere I went for this campaign and keep fixing it. I am going to show what could have been done, what should have been done and what will be done under a PEP government.”

He promised to continue highlighting the government’s failures in several areas, including the security of the borders.

“Cuba is 100 times the size of TT, but when the US put an embargo on Cuba, nothing went in and nothing came out for 60 years.

“But in TT half of the containers come off the port without ever being examined.

“When you see people jumping into boats and sailing out into the wide open ocean and coming back here without any law enforcement to see what they are bringing in and taking out, all of this has to be discussed.

“But the opposition never brings up these issues, but they want to go on a local government election platform to talk about ‘tap it and knock it’ nonsense.

“But the truth is we have 40,000 illegal guns in this country. The PNM and UNC have failed repeatedly and deliberately because there are people, big businessmen involved in narco-trafficking in this country.”