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Trinidad & Tobago - Politics

Prime ministers

Eric Eustace Williams PNM .. Dec 196129 Mar 1981
George Michael Chambers PNM 30 Mar 198118 Dec 1986
A.N.R. RobinsonNAR 18 Dec 198617 Dec 1991
Patrick Augustus Mervyn ManningPNM 17 Dec 199109 Nov 1995
Basdeo PandayUNC 09 Nov 199524 Dec 2001
Patrick Augustus Mervyn ManningPNM 24 Dec 200126 May 2010
Kamla Persad-BissessarUNC 26 May 201009 Sep 2015
Keith Christopher RowleyPNM09 Sep 2015

The PNM is primarily but not exclusively Afro-Trinidadian; the UNC is primarily but not exclusively Indo-Trinidadian. The first political party in Trinidad and Tobago with a continuing organization and program -- the People's National Movement (PNM) -- emerged in 1956 under Dr. Eric Williams, who became Prime Minister upon independence and remained in that position until his death in 1981. Politics have generally run along ethnic lines, with Afro-Trinidadians supporting the PNM and Indo-Trinidadians supporting various Indian-majority parties, such as the United National Congress (UNC).

The PNM remained in power following the death of Dr. Williams in 1981, but its 30-year rule ended in 1986 when the National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR), a "rainbow party" aimed at Trinidadians of both African and Indian descent, won a landslide victory by capturing 33 of 36 seats. Tobago's A.N.R. Robinson, the NAR political leader, became Prime Minister. Most political parties have sought to broaden their appeal, and their candidate lists for the November 2007 and May 2010 parliamentary elections reflected this.

Patrick Augustus Mervyn Manning was born on August 17, 1946. He was the fourth and sixth Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, and the Political Leader of the People’s National Movement (PNM). He served as Prime Minister from 17 December 1991 to 9 November 1995 and held that office again from 24 December 2001 until 26 May 2010. He was Political Leader of the People's National Movement (PNM) for 23 years, from 1987 to 2010. He was also the Leader of the Opposition from 1986 to 1990 and from 1995 to 2001. He was the Political Leader of the PNM from 1987 to 2010.

A geologist by training, Mr. Manning has served as a Member of Parliament for the San Fernando East since 1971 and was the longest-serving member of the House of Representatives. Manning served as Member of Parliament for the San Fernando East constituency from 1971 until 2015. His record of 44 unbroken years of Parliamentary service is likely to remain untouched for a long time to come. He was a student of Presentation College, San Fernando and the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies.

He was described by many as the quintessential statesman, always elegantly clad, smiling with the public and very affable in his interactions with others. Those who were brave enough to meet him on the domino table though, knew the danger that lurked behind his smile, for he was calculating, strategic and simply brilliant at the game. His passion for the game of dominos, nurtured and developed during his academic sojourn in Jamaica, was matched only by his passion for music.

M. It was his determination that rescued the PNM after the sound thrashing in 1991. It was his willingness to subject himself to criticism that allowed the PNM to claw its way back to power in 2001. He refused to accept failures and remained undaunted by the prospects that something had not been done before.

In 1995 Manning called for elections, in which the PNM and UNC both won 17 seats and the NAR won two seats. The UNC allied with the NAR and formed the new government, with Panday becoming prime minister -- the first prime minister of East Indian descent. Basdeo Panday was born on May 25, 1933 and was the 5th Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago from 1995 to 2001 and has served as the Leader of the Opposition from 1976–1977, 1978–1986, 1989–1995 and 2001–2010. He was first elected to Parliament in 1976 as the Member of Parliament for Couva North. He is the former Chairman and party leader of the United National Congress.

Although elections held in 2000 returned the UNC to power, the UNC government fell in 2001 with the defection of three of its parliamentarians, and the subsequent elections resulted in an even 18-18 split between the UNC and the PNM. President A.N.R. Robinson bypassed his former party colleague Panday by inviting PNM leader Manning to form a government, but the inability to break the tie delayed Parliament from meeting. Manning called elections in 2002, after which the PNM formed the next government with a 20-16 majority.

Following the tied December 2001 general election – when the People’s National Movement (PNM) and the United National Congress (UNC) each secured 18 seats in the House of Representatives (and the National Alliance for Reconstruction none) – a fresh election was called in October 2002 when the PNM secured a majority, with 20 seats with 50.7 per cent of the votes, while the UNC took 16 with 46.6 per cent. PNM leader Patrick Manning – whom the President had chosen to be Prime Minister and form a government after the tied election – resumed as Prime Minister.

Elections were held again on November 5, 2007, with the PNM winning 26 seats and the UNC securing the remaining 15; the Congress of the People party (COP) won no seats. Following the vote, Prime Minister Patrick Manning took his oath of office on November 7 to begin another term. In April 2010, however, the Prime Minister determined to dissolve Parliament early and elections were called for May 24. That vote pitted the PNM against a coalition known as the People’s Partnership (PP) made up of the UNC and COP as well as some smaller parties, including the Tobago Organization of the People (TOP) and the Movement for Social Justice. The partnership emerged victorious with 29 seats against the PNM’s 12 seats.

Kamla Persad-Bissessar replaced Manning as Prime Minister, becoming the first woman in the nation’s history to hold that office. Kamla Persad-Bissessar was born on April 22, 1952 in Sipiria, Trinidad. She is the seventh Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Mrs. Persad-Bissessar was sworn in as Prime Minister on May 26, 2010 becoming the country's first female Prime Minister. Mrs. Persad-Bissessar is the political leader of the United National Congress and leads the People’s Partnership, a coalition of five parties, formed for the Trinidad and Tobago 2010 general election. She was the first woman to serve as Attorney General, acting Prime Minister and leader of the Opposition of Trinidad and Tobago.

All three major parties are committed to free market economic policies and increased foreign investment. Trinidad and Tobago cooperates with the United States in the regional fight against narcotics trafficking and on other issues. This positive and fruitful relationship has continued and grown stronger under the PP government.

On the retirement of President George Maxwell Richards at the end of his second five-year term of office, on 15 February 2013 Justice Anthony Carmona, the sole candidate, was elected President by the electoral college. He was sworn in on 18 March 2013.

In September 2015 elections, the opposition People’s National Movement, led by Keith Rowley, defeated the ruling People’s Partnership, led by Kamla Persad-Bissessar, winning 23 parliamentary seats to the Partnership’s 18 seats. Commonwealth observers considered the elections to be generally free and fair. During the campaign, however, they noted a “surge of vitriolic and personal attacks exchanged between political parties,” despite the major parties being signatories to the voluntary code of ethical political conduct. Observers also noted the “lack of transparency and accountability regarding the financing of political parties.” Many experts raised concerns that the lack of campaign finance rules gives any incumbent party an advantage.

Following the election, former prime minister Persad-Bissessar initiated a court challenge to overturn the election results. The former prime minister challenged the results in six key swing constituencies where the results were close and where the People’s Partnership argued that a last-minute decision by the Elections and Boundaries Commission to extend voting helped the opposition. The courts found that the commission was wrong to extend voting but that this action did not change the results of the election.

A nail biting finish to the 2016 local government elections in Trinidad and Tobago saw the People's National Movement (PNM) government clinching a victory.

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Page last modified: 23-05-2017 15:48:41 ZULU