Voters reject Panday’s independent candidacy
As Trinidad goes to the polls on May 24, Trini voters have objected to Basdeo Panday, the former leader of the opposition, seeking re-election as an independent. Panday has been rejected by his party as a candidate for re-nomination. However, he is considering an independent run.
The findings of NACTA’s tracking opinion poll reveal that opposition supporters object to Panday contesting as an independent against popular incumbent Jack Warner, FIFA Vice President, in the Chaguanas West seat. Warner is the most likeable and popular MP in Trinidad with one of the highest approval rating of any Trini politician and will crush Panday.
Mr. Panday is likely to lose his deposit as he is not attracting much support against Mr. Warner. Opposition supporters around the country say they like, respect and admire Mr. Panday, but feel it is time for him to hang up his political boots and back current leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar as she seeks to unseat Prime Minister Patrick Manning.
NACTA has been testing support for Panday ever since he announced his intention two weeks ago to run as an independent against Warner. Several hundreds of opposition supporters were questioned on that topic nationally as well as in Chaguanas West and Panday’s own constituency of Couva North.
According to the findings, less than 1% of respondents endorse the idea of Panday contesting as an independent in the Chaguanas West seat with a little more support nationally. Warner obtained overwhelming support in his constituency with voters saying he has been the best MP in the history of Chaguanas. He is all but assured of reelection. The poll reveals there has been an erosion of the popularity of Panday. Very few people said they would vote for Panday urging him not to enter into the political fray. But several voters also said Panday was not treated honorably after he was defeated for the leadership of the UNC and lost his position as Opposition Leader. Voters feel the party should reconcile their differences with one another saying there should be a role for Panday to help bring about a UNC victory. Party supporters want everyone on board to replace the PNM in office.
Separately, NACTA’s findings show the PNM and UNC coalition are neck and neck in support in several of the marginal seats with COP leader, Winston Dookeran, trailing the PNM’s Esther LeGendre in Tunapuna. The so called marginal seats could go either way depending on any shift in support over the coming weeks.