Leader of the Progressive Party Nikoli Jean-Paul Edwards said the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) victory in Monday’s Tobago House of Assembly (THA) elections debunks the myth that there is no room for third parties in Trinidad and Tobago politics.
Edwards used the opportunity to signal to “alternative parties and Independent candidates" to standby.
“Our time is now,” the former independent senator said in a statement on Tuesday.
Edwards said Monday’s blistering 14-1 defeat of the People’s National Movement (PNM) after 21 years in control, and the unprecedented win for the fairly new PDP, must be closely studied as it should be celebrated.
“The message is clear, this is not PNM country and there is room for alternative parties.”
He lauded the party’s quick ascension, noting that that PDP was launched in 2016, and in just five years, one general election and three THA elections later, moved from no seats in the THA to a handsome majority.
“Therefore, it is difficult to maintain the belief that there is no room for third parties.
“There is no question that the PDP has its flaws and is led by Watson Duke, a man who has been taken to task with much flung at him to answer for.
“However, the people of Tobago have said very clearly that they prefer the unknown of the PDP over the familiarity of the PNM.
“It makes it even easier to understand against the backdrop of a charismatic and personal election campaign mounted by the PDP.”
Recalling the ousting of former chief secretary Kelvin Charles in 2020, Edwards said, “had it not been for ego and the decision to force a chief secretary candidate onto the people of Tobago, the PNM may have celebrated a different result.”
He contended that he is as much Tobagonian as he is Trinidadian, so these elections and their results matter to him, because of the effect on the people of this country.
“I therefore wish the PDP and the Chief Secretary-elect, Farley Augustine, well on this new journey.
“May they deliver to the people of Tobago that which they promised and may they demonstrate what the Congress of the People (COP) failed to do post-2017, that is, to prove that we do not live in a two-party system.
“As it relates to the PNM, you cannot blame the result on anyone but yourselves for the decisions made by your Prime Minister, your Government, your Chief Secretary, your THA and of course, your party.
“You had it all and grew more hands than you needed. Hopefully this trend will continue into the next local government and general elections.”