Sunday 9th September, 2007


Poll puts Dookeran ahead of Manning

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It seems opinion polls are playing a more important role in the politics of T&T as election draws closer.

The Sunday Guardian/Ansa McAl poll, the North American Caribbean Teachers’ Association (Nacta) and the so-called secret poll conducted by Jamaican Bill Johnson on the performance of PNM MPs have all been topics of discussion in the past few weeks.

Today, the Sunday Guardian/Ansa McAl poll (see page 40) has given political leader of the Congress of the People (COP) Winston Dookeran a two percentage point lead over Prime Minister Patrick Manning.

Respondents were asked who they would support as prime minister if an election was called. This will no doubt be a hot topic as COP holds its anniversary rally in Woodford Square, Port-of-Spain, today.

But a question like the one above might give certain people a false sense of security, political analyst Dr Bishnu Ragoonath said yesterday.

The UWI, St Augustine, lecturer said if many people supported a particular individual as prime minister, it would not necessarily mean he would become prime minister.

Ragoonath said that based on T&T’s system of government, a prime minister must first win his seat at elections and also be the leader of a political party or the MP whom the majority of MPs supported as prime minister.

“Winston Dookeran may come out ahead in such a poll, because he is supposedly clean and a man of integrity, but the larger and more important question is whether the COP would win more seats than the PNM, or even the UNC, when an election is called,” he said.

The Nacta poll was heavily criticised by the COP when the poll’s latest study found that the party would not win a single seat in the next general election unless it entered into some arrangement with the United National Congress Alliance.

The director of Nacta, Vishnu Bisram, has responded to criticism in today’s paper (see page 25).

Ragoonath said polls were snapshots at a particular point in time, and as such they were not something to rely on as one got into an election season. This was because many people changed their opinions on a daily basis, he said.

“Polls were important in that they sometimes could influence voters if they see a particular party ahead and cause them to vote for that particular party, or not for another party that had a poor showing.”

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