General Elections were held in Trinidad and Tobago on 15 December 1986 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.
In the 1986 elections, the ruling People's National Movement - in power since 1956 - was for the first time confronted by a unified and broadly-based opposition, known as the National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR). The moderate NAR comprised four parties (the United Labour Front, the Organization for National Reconstruction, the Democratic Action Congress and the Tapia House Movement) and was led by Mr. Arthur N.R. Robinson.
Political Parties & Candidates
Four political parties contested the 1986 election.
Key issues in the campaign pertained mainly to the economy and alleged corruption in high places. The opposition charged that the country's oil-based economy, hurt by a general drop in world oil prices, was hurt by government mismanagement; it underlined the growing unemployment rate, stressed the desirability of change and the need to restructure the economy, and pledged a moral crusade against corruption, waste and inefficiency. The PNM, headed by Prime Minister George Chambers, rested largely on its achievements over the past years.
On polling day, the NAR swept to an unexpectedly large victory, capturing 33 of the 36 seats. The PNM won the three remaining seats in the House of Representatives.
Mr. Robinson was sworn in as Prime Minister on 16 December and announced his 13-member Cabinet.
The NAR also
won 11 of the 12 seats in the Tobago House of Assembly. However, the NAR government was unable to retain its popularity
for long. In April 1989 Basdeo Panday, leader of the United Labour
Front, along with other dissidents formed a new party, the United
National Congress (UNC). In July 1990, UNC elected Mr Panday as
its President. The UNC (with six seats in the House of
Representatives) replaced the PNM (with only three) as the principal
In July 1990, an attempted coup was staged by a militant Muslim faction which took the then Prime Minister Arthur N. R. Robinson
and five Ministers hostage for five days, provoking an outbreak of
rioting and looting in the capital. The hostages were released on the
promise of an amnesty.
Voter turnout was 65.45%.