Deyalsingh’s nearest rival was the United National Congress (UNC)’s Ian Alleyne who, at some points in the night, appeared in the lead. The Independent Liberal Party (ILP)’s Om Lalla managed the third largest share of votes but was not really in the contest.

Neither was the Democratic National Assembly’s (DNA) Michael Lopez and independent candidate Errol Fabien.

Preliminary figures released by the Elections and Boundaries Commission last night in a press release indicated the PNM won 6,356 votes (about 45 per cent), the UNC 5,577 (39 percent) and the ILP 1,976 (14 percent). Though Lalla looked set to keep his deposit, the figures suggested the ILP’s presence in the election race had more of an impact in terms of the splitting of votes.

Fabien was projected to have received 300 votes and the DNA’s Lopez got five votes, meaning they were poised to lose their deposits.

Voter turnout was projected at 53 percent or 14,214 of the 26,891 persons who were eligible to vote, including 121 special voters. This appeared to be down from the turnout for the 2010 general election where the St Joseph turnout was 71.87 percent.

The turnout for the Chaguanas West bye-election in July was 67 percent.

PNM political leader Dr Keith Rowley described the results as a “PNM win”.

“Victory is ours,” he said to the media at a briefing at the PNM campaign office, Mt Hope Road, Mt Hope, flanked by Deyalsingh and PNM chairman Franklin Khan.

“The members of the population have shown that they choose PNM.

We as a country must be very pleased that they – through the EBC – have conducted a free and fair election.” Rowley renewed his call for a general election.

“Call a general election as soon as possible,” he said. “This Government has no mandate to continue to operate.” Deyalsingh said his first act after being sworn in would be to request the mobile phone numbers of all Government ministers in order to deliver projects at St Joseph.

“I have 18 months to work this seat,” Deyalsingh said. “We have shown tonight that the PNM with a good candidate can beat back the Government with its machinery. If a simple candidate can overcome all the mountain of inducements given out by the Government, it speaks volumes for the integrity of the people of St Joseph and I thank you all for your vote.” Deyalsingh also thanked God and his wife, Shema for standing at his side during the brief but grueling campaign.

“It has been a tough journey especially for her and she has indeed lost some weight. I would like to thank my leader who had faith in me and the screening committee for supporting me,” Deyalsingh said. “From the Almighty right down to foot soldiers, I would like to say thank you.” Rowley and Deyalsingh alleged electoral offences but gave no details of any formal reports to the EBC. The PNM leader however called on the Integrity Commission to look into the actions of Government disbursement of cheques for flood relief to farmers during the last week of campaigning.

Deyalsingh too noted the presence of heavy equipment in the constituency carrying out unspecified works yesterday.

During the campaign, the PNM had queried claims by Alleyne of getting 25 projects done in St Joseph by calling on Government Ministers and State agencies, and also wrote the Integrity Commission on this matter.

The Prime Minister was still due to address supporters at UNC offices at Aranjuez after arriving there shortly after 10 pm.

By 9.30 pm, PNM supporters were celebrating with loud campaign jingles playing amid scenes of jubilation as Deyalsingh snaked his way through the crowds. Yet the race was so razortight that mere hours before the PNM camp openly expressed uncertainty as to the outcome. At 8 pm, PNM chairman Franklin Khan was not willing to call the result. He said, “It’s early days yet. I don’t want to make any predictions.” At the ILP office, Mangra Road, Aranjuez, Lalla said, “I may have wanted a better result but at the end of the day we fight.” His leader, Jack Warner, called for a code of conduct to regulate elections.

Warner said the turnout was the lowest in the seat’s history since 1956. He said in 2010, the UNC won the seat with 10,500 votes while the PNM garnered 7,700 votes. (See page 15A) Chairman of the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) Dr Norbert Masson said official turnout figures were not yet available.

However, based on anecdotal evidence, he said the turnout was “active” and comparable to the level of energy of the Chaguanas West bye-election.

“I saw pretty active polling stations,” he said. “It appeared to be around the same level as the Chaguanas West bye-election.” Alleyne weathered controversy on poll day over whether his place of abode made him ineligible to vote in the election in which he was a candidate.

On questions on whether Alleyne was eligible to vote, Masson said, “I don’t know the details of that case. But the general rule is that you must be resident in the constituency two months prior to the qualifying date.” Maharaj said Alleyne did not cast his vote, “out of an abundance of caution” after taking legal advice.

However, Rowley last night called on the EBC to investigate the matter saying, “there are certain legal requirements to get your name on the voters’ list.” The result was the fourth defeat for the Government following the Tobago House of Assembly, Chaguanas West and Local Government Elections in an unprecedented year of elections.



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