Predicting Sri Lanka general election outcome
Posted on April 7th, 2010

Shenali Waduge

While the winner of Sri Lanka’s General Election is a foregone conclusion, the task at hand is to predict the number of seats the ruling UPFA Government is likely to achieve. The objective is clearly to win an outright clear majority to enable & facilitate decision making & as promised to reduce ministerial portfolios to a bear minimum.

 Ironically, the man chosen & believed to be “the” person to challenge Mahinda Rajapakse in January’s Presidential Election as the “Common Candidate” three months later has only the JVP to support him. Everyone seems to have deserted him except of course the press statements issued which hardly means anything. All those parties belonging to the Common Alliance are today vying for parliamentary elections separately”¦for those wise to have read the nature of the common alliance in January & voted according to their conscience, will realize the hypocrisy that prevails. Today, members of the UNF are openly giving reasons as to why people should vote for the UNP instead of the Trophy? In just 3 months we see a total turnaround in what the members of UNF proclaimed. What is interesting to note is how supporters of the UNP who idolized Fonseka in January have today forgotten that he is contesting alongside the JVP. The golden question is “”…” are they likely to vote for Fonseka instead of the UNP”¦.this is the interesting feature of this general election. How far voters who supported Fonseka’s common candidature for the presidential election is likely to carry forward that loyalty during the general election by casting their vote for the General & the DNA/trophy or will they again prefer to attach themselves to the loosing UNF that is unlikely to see any better forecasts until they realign themselves with a proper leader.

 In all probability the UNF supporters of January will be either wondering whether to stick to the traditional voting pattern, or believe that Fonseka can bring about a change despite his alliance with the JVP or even decide to back the UPFA by giving them the benefit of doubt in the promise to reduce cabinet portfolios. Some of the die-hard supporters are likely to refrain from voting altogether.

 The dark side of the general elections is of course the “manape” war which created in-house conflicts as a result “”…” even the UPFA teams have not been spared & despite strict presidential calls for “teamwork” there have been continued rifts & this may affect voting as well.

What most of us hope is that most present ministers who have been mere figureheads & not sincerely carrying out their roles/tasks would be voted out & hopefully a fresh team of people will be included. Bringing in the old lot would again tighten the presidential cuffs into continuing the same portfolios enjoyed earlier with little justice done to the people & their needs.

In a post-war peace “”…” the country needs action, planned action, continued action & consistent action. Now if the public sector see themselves as detached from this equation & feel that their salaries, pensions, remunerations matter more than their own productivity & ability & will to provide a better service to the public “”…” they better put their socks up because the public service arguably deserves a good shake up & they need to understand that given that many of them are political appointees at least that appreciation should be translated to doing their job properly.

The ills in the education, health sector & even statutory organizations have created immeasurable problems as a result of political appointments. While understanding that political appointments are inevitable the recipients of such appointments are surely expected to at least in appreciation of the privilege given to them take pains to show how worthy he/she is of the position bestowed upon them. This will to a great extent nullify or reduce the common belief that all political appointees end up destroying the public administration system. However, until such time these political appointees realistically assess their performance & do something about it we are likely to see the education, health & other key areas diminish in their service levels to the public.

 It is too early to predict who are likely to be top performers at the manape war but posters should not be taken as a key factor to decide. While the ruling government will be anxiously looking forward to an outright majority in parliament, most of us would also encourage the public to clearly make their decision known. Voting for splinter groups hardly helps in matters. Similarly, again the focus will be on how the Tamils will decide to cast their vote. Again we need to wonder whether Tamils will continue to desire to project themselves are being marginalized or desire to belong as Sri Lankan’s in a nation that must work towards building up what was lost. The outcome of the presidential elections in January saw a very poor voter turnout by the Tamils in the North. There are several reasons that may explain this “”…” Tamils were voting for the first time in many years, they may not have been interested in voting, they may have wanted to watch & see & then decide, we cannot rule out that some may still feel that their eggs should remain with the LTTE & this would explain if the TNA the mouthpiece of the LTTE are likely to secure considerable voter approval. Yet, the TNA too is divided & it would be interesting if the Tamils are able to judge & decide upon the vast development & changes that the ruling government has embarked upon & of course the efforts taken by the President to converse in Tamil.  

 A good proposition is to finally decide & ensure that no ethnic based political parties contest any election in Sri Lanka, or the public make up their minds not to give their vote to such parties “”…” this would to a great extent reduce the manner politicians manage to fool the voters into building up a scenario that they are being purposely denied rights etc due to their ethnicity.

 With two major elections likely to be over in 2010 “”…” we can look forward to better times provided of course that the country has a fixed policy internally & externally. A major disappointment is the manner in which we seem to have lost or with poor inactions likely to loose some age-old friends “”…” if Pakistan comes to mind then the Government needs to immediately ensure that they do not forget all those nations that have remained close whatever the odds. It is again reiterated that Sri Lanka may have India as its closest neighbor but we cannot forget at all times that India may not necessarily be a friend & whatever action or inaction India promises in favor of Sri Lanka “”…” it is certainly not without tags that is most likely not to benefit Sri Lanka but certainly serves India’s purpose ONLY. Therefore as a sovereign nation, all governments need to realize that we are not doormats to any foreign nation “”…” including India.

 Therefore, with a clear policy for how the country should progress with proper targets for each minister, firm directives to all public sector employees, incentives for the private sector as they largely contribute towards GDP growth, & a firm foreign policy that does not do summersaults for anyone’s benefit “”…” Sri Lanka should certainly progress for the better & the people can realistically look forward to good times ahead. The obvious next challenge is eliminating corruption “”…” but one word of thought – corruption exists everywhere “”…” it is a global problem & not confined to third world or developing nations alone”¦

 Let us await good times ahead for Sri Lanka

 Shenali Waduge

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