General Elections were held in Trinidad and Tobago on 24 May 1971 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.
On 22 April 1971, the Governor-General of Trinidad and Tobago issued Proclamation No. 7 of 1971 dissolving Parliament.
Political Parties & Candidates
Fifty eight candidates, put forward by three political parties, sought to canvass the votes of the electorate. The Governmental Party or People's National Movement, led by the outgoing Prime-Minister, Dr. Eric Williams, proposed candidates in the country's 36 constituencies; 8 were returned uncontested. The opposition parties represented by the Democratic Liberation Party, led by Bhadase Maraj, and the African National Congress, led by John Broome, proposed 21 and 7 candidates respectively. Lastly, 2 independent candidates also stood for election.
The electoral campaign was opened by decree, as provided for under the terms of the electoral law, at the beginning of May.
The main Opposition party, the Democratic Labour Party (DLP), led by Vernon Jamada, leader of the Opposition in the preceding Parliament, had decided to boycott the elections in protest at Parliament's refusal to meet the electoral reforms the party requested: lowering of the voting age to 18, better kept electoral registers and replacement of voting machines by ballot boxes.
In a manifesto entitled " Perspectives for a New Society " the governing party (PNM) had taken over some of the themes propounded by the Black Power movement, i.e. setting up of co-opera
tives, contracting works policy and struggle against unemployment. The electoral campaign was calm compared to the pre-electoral period during which Black Power supporters had participated in a number of demonstrations; worthy of note was the hesitation of the different Opposition parties as regards a decision to participate in the voting.
While observers were expecting the Opposition to win some seats in Parliament, the Governmental Party was totally victorious and won the 28 contested seats; this party now held every seat in Parliament.
Dr. Williams set up the new Government on 28 May 1971.
Voter turnout was 33.17%.