TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
Parliamentary Chamber: House of Representatives

ELECTIONS HELD IN 2000

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Chamber:
  House of Representatives


Dates of elections / renewal (from/to):

  11 December 2000


Purpose of elections:

  Elections were held on the normal expiry of the members' term of office


Background and outcome of elections:

  Turnout was brisk as voters in Trinidad and Tobago went to the polls on 11 December 2000 to elect a new government and the 36 members of House of Representatives. Nearly one million people were eligible to cast ballots in this election contested by 79 candidates, five of them independents and the others representing four political parties.

The campaign was marred by charges of electoral corruption and legal challenges over allegations of voter registration fraud; the police arrested at least 21 people accused of moving voters to provinces where the electoral contests were the tightest. The two main parties, the ruling United National Congress (UNC) and the opposition People's National Movement (PNM), announced during the electoral campaign their plans to challenge through the courts several nominations of candidates from the other party. The third party represented in the outgoing Parliament, the National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR), accused the two main parties of polarising the country along ethnic lines.

Political analysts said that the election was expected to be another close contest between Prime Minister Basdeo Panday's UNC and opposition leader and former Prime Minister Patrick Manning's PNM, both of which had won 17 seats in the 36-seat Parliament in the last general election in November 1995.

A six-member Commonwealth observer team which monitored the elections in an effort to avoid voting irregularities declared that the elections had been free and fair.

Final results announced by the Election Commission showed that Prime Minister Panday's UNC had won 19 seats. The opposition PNM won 16 seats, while the NAR obtained only one seat.

On 20 December 2000, Mr Basdeo Panday was sworn in again as Prime Minister. One week later, the opposition PNM asked the High Court to overturn the election to Parliament of two of the successful UNC candidates on the grounds that they had illegally filed nomination papers while holding dual citizenship in contravention of the Representation of the People's Act. On 2 January 2001, President Arthur Robinson refused to swear in seven Cabinet members appointed by the prime minister, deepening a political rift, as he said they had been defeated in the elections. On 7 February 2001, the appointed ministers filed a constitutional motion in the courts as they were seeking the court's intervention on the continuing refusal of the President to appoint them as government senators. The impase ended one week later, when President Arthur Robinson agreed to appoint the seven ministers.

STATISTICS
Round no 1 (11 December 2000): Elections results  
Number of registered electors 947 447

Round no 1: Distribution of votes  
Political Group Candidates
United National Congress (UNC) 36
People's National Movement (PNM) 36
National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR) 2

Round no 1: Distribution of seats  
Political Group Total
United National Congress (UNC) 18
People's National Movement (PNM) 17
National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR) 1

Distribution of seats according to sex:  
Men: 32
Women: 4
Percent of women: 11.11

Distribution of seats according to age:  
41 to 50 years 8
51 to 60 years 15
61 to 70 years 13


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Copyright 2000 Inter-Parliamentary Union