Unconfirmed figures from the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) put the People’s National Movement at 23 seats in the 41-seat Parliament chamber with the People’s Partnership at 18.
It was an outcome which came after a roller-coaster day for the electorate, with the hours of the poll extended by one hour due to heavy showers and with the results flip-flopping mid-stream last night, with the Partnership having an initial lead for about three hours before the Balisier prevailed.
Rowley will make history as the second Tobago-born prime minister. The PNM leader’s victory brings to an end the tenure of Kamla Persad-Bissessar, the first woman prime minister, dashing her coalition’s hopes of securing a second term. The UNC leader becomes the first one-term prime minister since ANR Robinson.
The PNM looked set to improve its performance over the 2010 general election result, gaining seats it lost then, including the key marginals. These included: Arima, D’Abadie/Omera, San Fernando West, Lopinot/Bon Air West, Toco/Sangre Grande, and Tunapuna. Party also comfortably took back the two Tobago seats: Tobago West and Tobago East; and was set to retain St Joseph.
Moruga/Tableland and La Horquetta Talparo swung PNM.
The UNC took back Chaguanas West, which it had lost to Jack Warner’s ILP in 2013, but it lost ground in the areas in which it had made incursions to in 2010.
Jack Warner’s ILP did not appear to make an impression, taking no seats.
In a victory speech at Balisier House, Rowley said the people had called on the PNM but he will be a prime minister for all.
“The people of Trinidad and Tobago have called on the People’s National Movement,” Rowley said. “As Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, while I would have come from the PNM, I am not the Prime Minister of the PNM, I will be the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago. Great is the PNM. But great is Trinidad and Tobago!” The prime minister- elect warned that rough economic times are ahead.
“I want to give the country assurance that all of us, new and old, will be guided by the fundamental principles of the PNM and the Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago. These are not the times of milk and honey,” Rowley said.
“There are difficult times ahead. It is going to be like going down the river and there are rapids ahead, white water ahead but if we navigate successfully there is calm water ahead.” He sought to strike a reconciliatory tone after what has been a fraught campaign.
“Tonight is the wedding,” Rowley said. “The wedding is the beginning, it is the living that matters.
Let’s live together in harmony.
We have to take responsibility for ourselves and say we are our brothers keeper and if we commit to that nobody in our country will go hungry while others go overweight.
We are all in this together.” To UNC supporters, the PNM political said, “it is not we versus them. We are all in this together.
You of the UNC will form the Opposition but we all expect you to act as a part of the government.
All of us will come out of our difficulty together. We have boundless faith in our destiny.” Rowley continued, “I will make every effort to rekindle the feeling of nationalism in Trinidad and Tobago. We are a nation and all of us should be proud that we are citizens of Trinidad and Tobago.” The Diego Martin West MP paid tribute to his family.
“I always knew I had the loving arms of my wife Sharon,” Rowley said. “I don’t take a vote at home because I know who will lose it so I usually humble myself. They helped me by ensuring that there was a place of peace, quite and love.” In a concession speech at her Siparia constituency office early this morning, Persad-Bissessar said the will of the people must be respected and pledged to continue to serve the people.
“Today we saw a democratic process in train and we must respect the wishes of the people of Trinidad and Tobago,” she said.
“They have chosen and I respect their wishes. Of course we are disappointed but for myself I am very thankful to be citizen Kamla all over again – the Siparia MP – and I will continue to work with you as I work with others.” Persad-Bissessar noted the Partnership will have a strong presence in the Eleventh Parliament.
“We will have a very strong membership in the house and will continue to serve you. I think we won the popular vote but at the end of the day it is the system of seats which determines the government.
I will not stop serving you I will continue to work with you for a better and brighter Trinidad and Tobago. I think we fought a good fight, a brave right, we served well and maybe that is why we got the majority of the numbers of the vote. The Partnership is still strong. (Later today) I’ll wake up, God is great. I will live and I will be strong. It’s been a great five years. There will be a greater five years to come.” She had no regrets in relation to the election date.
From the time the very first results which began to trickle in at about 7.40pm, it was clear that it was a two-way race and that the ILP was not going to be a factor on election night.
“The PNM victory is not only a victory for the country but also for the ILP,” Warner told reporters at his party’s headquarters at Chaguanas. “I won no seats but I got Kamla out.” He said he was bowing out of politics.
Though she won her Siparia seat resoundingly, the defeat of Persad-Bissessar immediately raised questions over her prospects of remaining UNC political leader. Prior to the election, the UNC had agreed to defer the holding of internal elections until after the general election.