While a large majority of people are disappointed with the governance of the ruling People’s National Movement (PNM), they have embraced new President Paula-Mae Weekes’ inaugural address, last Monday, which carried a message of hope.
The findings of the latest North-American Caribbean Teachers Association (NACTA) opinion poll, conducted by Dr Vishnu Bisram, also found that as the government enters midway into its five-year term, the PNM has been increasingly “losing its political sheen.”
But this still has not placed the United National Congress (UNC)-led People’s Partnership in an advantageous position as seeks to return to power.
In fact, the poll found that an increasing number of voters are expressing a preference for a third force as their choice for the next government.
“But with no third party alternative in the offing, the PNM is preferred over the UNC and likely to retain office in elections due by the end of 2020,” the poll found.
It added: “The lone silver lining among findings in the latest ongoing NACTA poll is the nation’s overwhelming endorsement of Her Excellency President Paula Mae Weekes who was sworn into office last Monday. “Virtually every voter interviewed over the last week has a positive view of President Weekes, a perfect approval or likeability rating of any political figure in recent memory.”
The poll revealed that if a third force under a credible leader were to be formed and/or if the opposition forces were to unite, the PNM could find itself against the political ropes if not altogether knocked out of Government. “But in any one to one PNM-UNC match up in the key marginal seats, a predictable pattern emerges.”
It added: “The incumbent PNM retains office as the basic political arithmetic does not favour the UNC to win these critical seats necessary for government formation.
“The UNC has not been able to attract sufficient crossover ethnic support to win key battleground seats to obtain a bare majority of a minimum 21 seats of the 41 seats that make up the parliament.” The poll also revealed growing disenchantment with the Government’s handling of crime and the economy. Both issues have been taking a heavy toll on the Government’s approval rating and its re-election.
Voters, the poll found, also expressed disappointment with governance issues – the PNM’s failure to grant autonomy to local governments along the “Tobago model” and other unfulfilled promises laid out in the 2015 manifesto. Members of Parliament also came in for strong criticism.
“The poll finds that, with rare exceptions, voters are not pleased with the representation provided by their members of Parliament most of who don’t service their constituents. Voters say they have not seen most parliamentarians since the general election.”
The survey also revealed that every supporter of the UNC has endorsed the call by San Juan/Barataria MP Dr Fuad Khan for the reconciliation with former party leader Basdeo Panday and other stalwarts and grass roots activists who feel alienated or were excommunicated from the party.
“UNC supporters say there is need for political healing and embracing of all, including non-UNCites, based on a spirit of inclusion in keeping with the party’s motto.”