(Source: CMC) – Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said today that he is encouraged by reports of a large turnout of voters and has said he will start his day on Tuesday, as he had been doing for several years, playing golf.
“Tomorrow morning, I haven’t spoken to my friends as yet, but normally on a Tuesday morning I get up at five o’ clock and I go off to the golf course and I think I will be doing the same thing tomorrow morning,” Rowley told reporters after casting his vote in the Diego Martin West constituency which he has been representing for the past 29 years.
Rowley is leading the People’s National Movement (PNM) into the election, hoping to remain in office following its 23-18 victory in the 2015 poll. The party is facing at least 18 other parties and four independent candidates, but political observers say the main challenge comes from the main opposition United National Congress (UNC) that is being led by Opposition Leader Kamla Persad Bissessar for control of the 41-seat Parliament.
Rowley said he is ‘relieved’ that the campaign has come to an end, telling reporters “it was very hard work. It was a short, hard campaign, but I think it was effective. I think we set about on our platform to communicate and provide the information and it was a campaign of reporting to the population”.
The campaign this time around had been hampered by the measures and protocols put in place by the health authorities to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), severely limiting congregations to as many as 10 in some instances and the putting in place six feet social distancing.
“I am very satisfied we ran a very effective campaign and I think most of the population would have had access to information that would have been useful and today they are acting on it.”
He said that every election is “important” and that ‘this one is particularly important because it heralds a period, which is not the easiest period for the country…and under those circumstances you require the best management that’s available and I think the population needs to pay attention to that.
“This is not a time to make jokes because of the difficult period we are going into and it is just not difficult on one angle there are some significant difficulties all around, so choosing the management of the country is particularly important and that makes this election so much more important”
Rowley said he believes the environment in which the campaign was held, while it may not be the “new normal” for future campaigns, “I have no doubt that the election process, like many other things would have been affected irretrievably.
“Things would change, we run a campaign like we never run before, one that did not allow us to go in our traditional ways of having rallies and meetings in different areas…so I think there might even be cost benefits to that to
“We were able to reach a lot of people (and) I don’t expect we will go back and rely on what we used to do before,” he said, urging supporters of all the parties to congregate in small numbers when the results are being disclosed.
He said the PNM was encouraging supporters to stay away from its headquarters because of the COVID situation.