Progressive Empowerment Part (PEP) political leader Phillip Edward Alexander who said he will step down after this election shakes hands with interim leader Felicia Holder at Victoria Square, Duke and Melbourne Street, Port-of-Spain on Monday night.

Gyasi Merrique

Political Leader of the Progressive Empowerment Party (PEP) Phillip Edward Alexander has accepted responsibility for the party’s underwhelming results at the polls in T&T’s general election and has confirmed his decision to step down from the party’s leadership, a promise which he announced before this general election.

Speaking last evening at the party’s headquarters at Quad Building, Park Street, Port of Spain, Alexander said, “My 26 years of social and political activism comes to an end tonight. I said that I would lead this party into one election, win or lose and that is this election. In the best traditions of Westminster, if you don’t lead your party to government, you should step aside and give someone else a chance.”

Alexander has touted party chairman Felicia Holder as his interim successor until the party can hold internal elections and was optimistic that whatever momentum and support the PEP was able to gather in this election campaign can be maintained to make the party a viable third option for the nation’s electorate. He even rejected any suggestion that third parties would continue to find difficulty in breaking through politically.

“The people who say that are the people who accept the status quo,” Alexander said.

“The country needs to have options and choices but we won’t get that if we build political parties that cannot transition then we’ll become another political cult and a cult of personality and I never wanted to be a part of that.”

Alexander was crest-fallen at having failed to break what he called, the status quo of race-based voting in T&T.

He told Guardian Media that he was “hoping to be the person that precipitated and began the process of moving us away from the race voting that has trapped so many in squalid poverty.”

Alexander added, “For all intents and purposes, I failed at it, but Tuesday (today) is a new day and we’ll come back to it, sit down and look at what else can be done.”

The PEP leader’s disappointment, he explained, stemmed from the fact that while he was able to rouse an interest in confronting national issues within the party by finding and fielding almost 30 candidates for the election, that interest did not translate into votes.

“The fact that we’ve been able to field 28 such powerful candidates says a lot and that there are people who want more than just politics for personal gain,” Alexander said.

“But until we get to a place where we stop voting race and start voting reality, until we get to a place where we understand that 60-70 percent of our national budget is wasted on graft and theft and corruption, the ones celebrating the election tonight are going to be the ones waking up tomorrow bearing the brunt of the suffering to come,” he said.