General Elections were held in Trinidad and Tobago on 11 December 2000 for all 36 seats in the House of Representatives.
The 36 members of the House of Representatives are elected in single-member constituencies by first-past-the-post voting. There is no fixed election date in effect in Trinidad and at this time; hence, the choice of election date is the prerogative of the Prime Minister.
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.
Political Parties & Candidates
A total of 79 candidates, five of them independents and the others representing four political parties contested the election - the United National Congress (UNC), the People’s
National Movement (PNM), the National Alliance for Reconstruction
(NAR) and the People’s Empowerment Party (PEP).
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.
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.
Voter turnout was 63.05%.