2021 Tobago House of Assembly election


The 2021 Tobago House of Assembly (THA) election was held on 25 January 2021 where 12 members were elected in the eleventh election since the Assembly was established in 1980,[3] this election marked the first time in history that both parties elected, the People's National Movement (PNM) and Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) won an equal number seats, despite the PNM winning the popular vote, resulting in a constitutional crisis with both political parties and Prime Minister Keith Rowley seeking Senior counsel advice on the way forward,[4][5] this election was the first time after 20 years in power that the PNM lost its absolute majority.[6][7][8] This election also marked the first time a female political leader was elected to the Assembly and the first time a woman led a major political party or a political party with representation in the Assembly, following the 2020 Tobago Council of the People's National Movement leadership election where Health Secretary, councillor and former Trinidad and Tobago Ambassador to Costa Rica and former Deputy Chief Secretary of Tobago Tracy Davidson-Celestine made history by being elected as the PNM's first female political leader at the regional or national level and one of the first bilingual political leaders in the country's history. If Davidson-Celestine and the PNM were to be elected with a majority to their sixth consecutive term in office, she would have made history, becoming the first female Chief Secretary of Tobago. The election was held alongside local by-elections in Trinidad in which the PNM and UNC retained two districts and the PNM losing one to the UNC.[9][10][11][12]

2021 Tobago House of Assembly election

 2017 25 January 2021

All 12 seats in the Tobago House of Assembly
7 seats needed for a majority
Turnout52%[1] ( 2 pp)
  First party Second party
 
PDP
Leader Tracy Davidson-Celestine Farley Augustine[lower-alpha 1]
Party PNM PDP
Leader since 27 January 2020 24 November 2019[lower-alpha 2]
Leader's seat Ran in Lambeau/Signal Hill (won)[2] Parlatuvier/ L’Anse Fourmi/Speyside
Last election 10 seats, 54.68% 2 seats, 30.96%
Seats won
6 / 12
6 / 12
Popular vote
50.4%
48.5%
Swing 4.32 pp 17.5 pp

Current map of the 12 electoral districts of Tobago, used to elect members to the House of Assembly

Chief Secretary before election

Ancil Dennis
PNM

After elections

Ancil Dennis (caretaker government)
PNM

Background


2017 Tobago House of Assembly election

The governing Tobago Council of the People's National Movement led by Kelvin Charles were able to retain a strong majority in the Assembly, though not as impressive as their total sweep of all 12 seats in the previous election.[13] Charles became Chief Secretary following the retirement of his predecessor Orville London.[14]

Leadership change

In 2020 Kelvin Charles lost re-election as Leader of the Tobago Council of the People's National Movement and was replaced by Tracy Davidson-Celestine. Days before a vote of no-confidence in Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles petitioned by eight of the 12 members of the THA to Presiding Officer Vanessa Cutting-Thomas, Charles resigned as Chief Secretary and was replaced by elected assembly member Ancil Dennis with Davidson-Celestine, who is not an elected member of the assembly, being appointed as a councilor in the THA and Health Secretary.[15][16]

2020 Trinidad and Tobago general election

At the 2020 general election, there was no net change in the number of seats for each party, the PNM decreased their vote share to 61% but was able to retain both seats. The PDP managed 39% of the vote.[17]

Electoral system


All twelve members are elected via first-past-the-post.[18]

Voters


All Tobagonians and Commonwealth citizens aged 18 or over, legally resident in Tobago and who have resided in an electoral district for at least two months prior to the election date are entitled to vote in the elections.[19]

Parties


Political parties registered with the Elections And Boundaries Commission can contest the House of Assembly election as a party. The following registered parties are contesting the House of Assembly election:

Party Founded Ideology Lead candidate Lead candidate's seat Leader(s) Leader since Leader's seat Last election Seats at dissolution Seats contesting Notes
 % party vote Seats
PNM1955Centre to centre-left, Liberalism, Social liberalism, Moderate nationalism Tracy Davidson-Celestine Ran in Lambeau/Signal Hill (won)[20]Tracy Davidson-CelestineJanuary 25 2020Ran in Lambeau/Signal Hill (won)[20]
54.68%
10 / 12(83%)
10 / 12(83%)
12 seats
PDP2016Tobago regionalism[21] Farley Chavez Augustine Parlatuvier/ L’Anse Fourmi/Speyside Watson DukeJuly 2016Belle Garden East/Roxborough/Delaford
30.96%
2 / 12(17%)
2 / 12(17%)
12 seats
UTP 2020 Tobago regionalism Nickocy Phillips Buccoo/Mount Pleasant Nickocy Phillips[22] July 2020 Ran in Buccoo/Mount Pleasant (lost) not founded 1 seat
CARM 2010[23] Tobago regionalism Ricardo Phillip Buccoo/Mount Pleasant Ricardo Phillip January 2010 Ran in Buccoo/Mount Pleasant (lost) 1 seat

Lead candidates

On 24 November 2019, incumbent Minority Leader in the Tobago House of Assembly and Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) political leader and Public Services Association President Watson Duke publicly endorsed incumbent assembly member for Parlatuvier/ L’Anse Fourmi/Speyside and PDP deputy political leader, Farley Chavez Augustine, as the party's lead candidate for the election. Following the 2020 Tobago Council of the People's National Movement leadership election held on January 19, 2020, Tracy Davidson-Celestine was elected as the party's first female political leader and thus the lead candidate for the PNM.

Campaign


Both the PNM and PDP announced candidates in all 12 districts. Former Presiding Officer of the Tobago House of Assembly and defeated candidate in the 2020 Tobago Council of the PNM leadership election, Denise Tsoiafatt Angus, who endorsed Davidson Celestine in the second round of the 2020 Tobago Council of the People's National Movement leadership election, filed to run in as an independent candidate in the electoral district of Scarborough/ Calder Hall on January 4, after not being chosen to represent the party for the seat of Scarborough/ Calder Hall, despite being the choice of three out of five PNM party groups.[24] Other candidates include defeated 2020 general election candidates for the constituency of Tobago West and political leaders of the UTP and CARM respectively Ricardo Phillip and Nickocy Phillips and veteran journalist Anthony Hector.[25][26]

Autonomy, corruption, specifically with respect to an incomplete Main Ridge Forest zip line project and the leadership role of controversial PDP political leader and Public Services Association President Watson Duke and his treatment towards women were persistently covered in the media in the lead up to the election. PDP deputy political leader Farley Chavez Augustine said that a 2016 Auditor General management letter on the Main Ridge Forest zipline project revealed that only rope was discovered when the department searched for the $2.5 million material and equipment spent by the Assembly, on the zipline while Davidson Celestine was Tourism and Transport Secretary. The PNM-led Assembly and Prime Minister Keith Rowley has denied any truth to the corruption allegations, stating that although the PNM is not perfect, the party is not corrupt. The PNM has made allegations that the PDP intends to separate Tobago from Trinidad and has been accused of bringing racism into the campaign by alleging that the PDP is a proxy for the United National Congress (UNC), linking both the UNC and PDP to Trumpism and calling PDP political leader Watson Duke, Tobago's Trump.[27][28] Duke, who was charged with rape in 2016 and sedition in 2020,[29] has made headlines on the campaign for his past comments/actions with respect to women.[30]

Marginal seats


The following lists identify and rank seats by the margin by which the party's candidate finished behind the winning candidate in the 2017 election.

For information purposes only, seats that have changed hands through subsequent byelections have been noted. Seats whose members have changed party allegiance are ignored.

  = appears in two lists
Marginal seats by party (with winning parties and margins from the 2017 Tobago House of Assembly election)
PNM PDP
Marginal
1 Parlatuvier/ L’Anse Fourmi/Speyside 7.91% 1 Goodwood/Belle Garden West 0.23%
2 Belle Garden East/Roxborough/Delaford 13.80% 2 Providence/ Mason Hall/Moriah 14.11%
Safe 3 Plymouth/Golden Lane 26.62%
4 Canaan/Bon Accord 33.09%
5 Scarborough/ Calder Hall 33.69%
6 Lambeau/Signal Hill 38.20%
7 Black Rock/Whim/Spring Garden 38.33%
8 Bacolet/Mount. St. George 41.01%
9 Bethel/Mt. Irvine 42.01%
10 Buccoo/Mount Pleasant 51.57%
Safe
TF
1 Bethel/Mt. Irvine 23.78%
Safe
Source: Tobago House of Assembly Elections, 2017 – Final Result

    Assemblymembers not standing for re-election


    Retiring incumbent Electoral District Term in office Date announced
    Jomo Pitt Tobago Council of the People's National Movement Lambeau/Signal Hill 2013–2021 26 June 2020[31][32][33][34]

    Candidates by district


    • Names in boldface type represent party leaders.
    • † represents that the incumbent did not run again.
    • ‡ = Ran for re-election in different district
    • § represents that the incumbent was defeated for nomination.
    • ₰ represents that the incumbent ran in another district and lost the nomination
    • ‡ represents that the incumbent ran in a different district.
    Electoral District[35][36] Candidates[37][36] Incumbent
    Tobago Council of the People's National Movement Progressive Democratic Patriots Other
    Bacolet/Mount. St. George   Joel Jack

    1,169

    Megan Morrison

    780

      Joel Jack
    Belle Garden East/Roxborough/Delaford Neil Beckles

    1014

      Watson Duke

    1,417

      Watson Duke
    Bethel/Mt. Irvine Shomari Hector

    1,028

      Terance Baynes

    1,045

      Shomari Hector
    Black Rock/Whim/Spring Garden   Kelvon Morris

    1,328

    Abby Taylor

    820

    Anthony Hector (Ind.)

    12

      † Kelvin Charles
    Buccoo/Mount Pleasant   Ancil Dennis

    1,209

    Jamie Baird

    744

    Ricardo Phillip (UTP)

    9

    Nickocy Phillips (CARM)

    9

      Ancil Dennis
    Canaan/Bon Accord   Clarence Jacob

    1,041

    Joel Sampson

    984

      Clarence Jacob
    Goodwood/Belle Garden West Boxil Bailey

    1,146

      Faith Yisrael

    1,405

      § Hayden Spencer
    Lambeau/Signal Hill   Tracy Davidson-Celestine

    1,256

    Wayne Clarke

    1,040

      † Jomo Pitt
    Parlatuvier/ L’Anse Fourmi/Speyside Rory Dillon

    1,047

      Farley Chavez Augustine

    1,367

      Farley Chavez Augustine
    Plymouth/Golden Lane Melissa James Guy

    1,010

      Zorisha Hackette

    1,212

      § Marisha Osmond
    Providence/ Mason Hall/Moriah Kwesi Des Vignes

    1,101

      Ian Pollard

    1,185

      § Sheldon Cunningham
    Scarborough/ Calder Hall   Marslyn Melville-Jack

    939

    Trevor James

    799

    Denise Tsoiafatt Angus (Ind.)

    269

      Marslyn Melville-Jack

    Campaign slogans, songs and manifestos


    Party Slogan Song Manifesto
    PNM "Building Tobago Together"[38][39]
    • Yolanda Job - Building Tobago Together[40]
    PNM Tobago Council THA Manifesto 2021-2025[41]
    PDP "Let's Transform Tobago"[42]
    • WE BLACK and WE PROUD ✊🏿✊🏿✊🏿[43]

    Opinion polls


    Graphical summary

    The North American Caribbean Teachers Association (NACTA) commissioned an opinion poll for the election sampling the electorate's opinion.

    Seat projection

    Date Pollster Sample
    size
    PNM PDP Other Legislative majority
    25 January 2021 2021 election 6 6 0
    23 January 2021 Trinidad and Tobago Guardian/NACTA poll[44] 11 1 0 10
    8 January 2021 Trinidad and Tobago Guardian/NACTA poll[45] 9 (+2) 1 (+2) 0 6 (+4)
    23 January 2017 2017 election 10 2 0 8

    Individual poll

    Date[nb 1] Pollster Sample size PNM PDP Other Lead
    25 January 2021 2021 election 50.4 48.5 1.1 1.9
    23 January 2021 Trinidad and Tobago Guardian/NACTA poll[46] 52 44 8
    23 January 2017 2017 election 54.7 31.0 14.06 23.7

    Approval ratings

    The tables below list the public approval ratings of the leaders and leading candidates of the main political parties in Tobago.

    Tracy Davidson-Celestine
    Polling firm/Commissioner Fieldwork date Sample size Tracy Davidson-Celestine
    (PNM)
    Y N ? Net
    Trinidad and Tobago Guardian/NACTA poll[44] 23 January 2021 52 27 21 +25
    Farley Chavez Augustine
    Polling firm/Commissioner Fieldwork date Sample size Farley Chavez Augustine
    (PDP)
    Y N ? Net
    Trinidad and Tobago Guardian/NACTA poll[44] 23 January 2021 43 39 18 +4
    Watson Duke
    Polling firm/Commissioner Fieldwork date Sample size Watson Duke
    (PDP)
    Y N ? Net
    Trinidad and Tobago Guardian/NACTA poll[44] 23 January 2021 ?  ?  ? +2

    Results


    PartyVotes%Seats+/–
    Tobago Council of the People's National Movement13,28850.366–4
    Progressive Democratic Patriots12,79848.506+4
    Unity of the People90.030New
    Class Action Reform Movement90.030New
    Independents2811.060New
    Total26,385100.00120
    Valid votes26,38599.68
    Invalid/blank votes850.32
    Total votes26,470100.00
    Registered voters/turnout51,06251.84
    Source: EBCTT

    By electoral district

    Electoral District Turnout Previous control Result
    Bacolet/Mount. St. George PNM PNM
    Belle Garden East/Roxborough/Delaford PDP PDP
    Bethel/Mt. Irvine PNM PDP
    Black Rock/Whim/Spring Garden PNM PNM
    Buccoo/Mount Pleasant PNM PNM
    Canaan/Bon Accord PNM PNM
    Goodwood/Belle Garden West PNM PDP
    Lambeau/Signal Hill PNM PNM
    Parlatuvier/ L’Anse Fourmi/Speyside PDP PDP
    Plymouth/Golden Lane PNM PDP
    Providence/ Mason Hall/Moriah PNM PDP
    Scarborough/ Calder Hall PNM PNM
    Source: EBC[47]

    Consequences


    Trinidad and Tobago's assembly voted on 20 February in favour of a law increasing the number of seats in the Tobago's regional assembly to an uneven 15, which is expected to be followed by early election once new constituencies are drawn,[48] in order to avoid potential seat ties in the future.

    See also


    Notes


    1. These are the survey dates of the poll, or if the survey dates are not stated, the date the poll was released.

    References


    1. Augustine was publicly endorsed as the PDP's Chief Secretary candidate on 24 November 2019, but Watson Duke is party leader.
    2. Augustine was publicly endorsed as the PDP's Chief Secretary candidate on 24 November 2019, but Watson Duke is party leader.

    References


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