Excited by UNC Internal Elections

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Alicia Chamely
By Alicia Chamely

If you are reading this on Saturday, and are a card holding member of the United National Congress (UNC), then I wish to you…Happy Internal Election Day!

Since internal elections were called, I have been watching the campaign and party closely. The
STAR Team (consisting of existing executive members) and the United Patriots (UP) (made up of members who believe the party would be strong with a new executive… meaning them) will soon find out who the people want leading their party.

Campaigning has been interesting, from who is out on bail, who in front of the courts, who is getting old, who is ignoring their constituency, who is a traitorous dissent and who is just a plant by the People’s National Movement (PNM), the fight for control of the executive has been a fierce one.


I’m not sure why but these elections excite me. Perhaps because they set the stage for a shift in our political landscape.

Trinbagonians do not handle change well, especially those who for some reason unbeknownst to me, build their whole lives around their politician or party of favour. It’s creepy and cult like.

There are people out there who will watch their politician of choice throw a bag of puppies into a river, praise him or her and find 998 reasons why it was justified. If they can’t justify it, they will point out 2004 ways their political opponents did worse.

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These die-hard members are the ones all politicians, both UNC and PNM, have long rested their laurels upon. However, times are changing. Younger, more broad-minded voters are coming aboard. People unsatisfied with the status quo are now willing to voice their discontent, and though they may not be ready to vote against their old faithful, they are ready to simply withhold their vote.

The UNC internal elections should act as an indicator as to how people’s views have changed or not. There has been a lot of discourse as to whether the UNC can defeat the current PNM government if a snap election was called. From my observations I do not think so.

Currently political leader of the UNC Kamla Persad-Bissessar, whose leadership is not up for contention until next year, has seemed to have lost the charisma she had when she took over the UNC in 2010 and led the People’s Partnership.


She served as our nation’s first female prime minister; she showed us those in power can be empathetic and kind. However, after a series of scandals within her government, she was unable to secure a second term. From there, under her leadership the UNC has continued to lose both general and local elections.

Her style of 0pposition has also faced extreme criticism as being counter productive and often irresponsible with her messaging.

From this lack of confidence in their leader and current executive came the UP, who believe that with new leadership the UNC could become a stronger party and have a better chance at winning next year’s general election.


Oddly, this situation mirrors that of the late Patrick Manning. Before calling a snap election in 2010, there were whispers of discontent with his leadership and certain members of his executive. As with Persad Bissessar, he too was surrounded by allegations of corruption and misdeeds by his party executive. When he lost the 2010 general election, he soon lost his position as party leader, which went to our now Prime Minister Keith Rowley.

It could be argued the UP are hoping to win their spots and reform the party before general elections next year. Reforming the party, bringing in new faces, with new ideas, is very much what the People’s Partnership did and it worked for them.

In my opinion, I do not think the current UNC slate can win a general election. Their time has passed. Their main supporters are those who align themselves with personality or party, example Kamla is the mother of our nation, and nothing will change our mind, are all they have left.


The question I have is this… if the Patriots win most of the executive positions within in the UNC, including that of the deputy political leader, what will Persad-Bissessar do? Will she accept and work with them to strengthen the party or against them? Will she hold on until the position of UNC Political Leader is voted on next year or will resign early?

I am quite excited to see the results of today’s elections. We could be seeing a new UNC or the same one. Should it be the same one, I hope they take today as a lesson. More needs to be done to regain the party membership’s confidence and the confidence of the nation. If it is a new UNC, then I hope they remember what it is they fought for and against and do not fall into the same trappings the current executive finds themselves in.


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