It has been a traumatic political struggle to get to this point-election day.
Today some 1,040,011 electors get an opportunity to change a government or to return a government to office.
Yesterday the long, bruising and hard-fought five-week campaign came to an end in all 41 constituencies.
There are a total of 99 candidates, representing two major political groupings-the People’s National Movement and the People’s Partnership, consisting mainly of the United National Congress and the Congress of the People.
Also contesting are the New National Vision (NNV)Â (which is fighting 12 seats) and six independent candidates.
Wants to go back as PM: PNM leader Patrick Manning, Prime Ministerial Hopeful: UNC leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar
Yesterday the Elections and Boundaries Commission’s public relations officer Leslie Fitzpatrick said that the organisation was well prepared.
’We are ready. Everything is in place. All the returning officers are in position to go to the 2,000-plus polling stations around the country, before 6 a.m.to wait for people to cast their vote.’
Voting starts from 6 a.m. and ends at 6 p.m.
Fitzpatrick said each polling station would be manned by five EBC officials and a police officer.
He said the EBC had also set up a facility at its Head Office at Scott House, on Frederick Street, Port of Spain to respond to any queries that might come from the electorate.
Additionally, people who are still unsure of where their polling stations are, can check the EBC’s website at ebctt.com.
This election is unique because it is the first time that a major political forceÂ in theÂ electionÂ (the People’s Partnership) is led by a woman.
Many think that Kamla Persad-Bissessar has a real chance of becoming the first woman Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, creating history.
This would be a particularly remarkable feat because Persad-Bissessar became leader of the UNC just four months ago.
How well sheÂ does in herÂ first general election as leader of a party will be known later today.
Under the People’s Partnership umbrella, there is another historic possibility.
Makandal Daaga, who 40 years ago, led what is now termed the Black Power Revolution, is now vying for a seat in the PNM heartland constituency of Laventille West.
Daaga leads the NJAC, but is registered as a COP candidate on the ballot paper, to make things simplerÂ for the voter.
The COP is attempting today to get thatÂ foothold in the Parliament which eluded it the last time around- in the November 2007 general election.
On the other side, Prime Minister Patrick Manning leads his party, the PNM, for a seventh time into a general election.
Manning, who became leader of that party in 1987-23 years ago-after the party’s most devastating defeat, may be facing his sternest test yet, having made a decision to call the general election, two and a half years into a constitutionally permitted five-year term.
Manning has three outright general election successes under his belt.
But he is not unaccustomed to political adversity and to role reversal.
Whether the Prime Minister’s gamble of calling an early election pays dividends will only be known later tonight when the votes are counted and a winner declared.
There should be a clear winner since there are 41 constituencies and two major rivals.
A close finish, possibly.
[Update made via Trinidad Express]