Posted on April 16th, 2014

By Gomin Dayasri  

 The government won the provincial elections in south – west 2014 convincingly: but that is superficial if the result is analyzed objectively:  eyebrows will be raised if the opposition finds a common candidate at the Presidential elections. It may look a cake – walk for the government but race can mount into a serious challenge at a Presidential Election if a formidable common candidate emerges, where a flood of votes flow from the North against the incumbent.

  Majorities presently are overwhelming for the government but narrows considerably if the opposition parties total polled are aggregated. Hold your breath, the government has to get its act correct otherwise their supporters will not go to poll or vote for another.

 Look at it another way. Government wins every seat barring Colombo and Galle with substantial majorities after ruling the country for 25 years. It cannot expect to hold the support it had at the end of the war that was euphoric. Very few except the beneficiaries would call the government squeaky clean or maintain law and order or contain prices at market place or follow sound economic fundamentals yet the majority is securely with the government. UNP could not offer a challenge in any of electorates that it lost and cannot stand-alone. UNP cannot forfeit its position as the alternate party by twice surrendering the right to contest the presidency. Most of it relates to the fact notwithstanding numerous defeats the leadership remains constant. Still it’s the best UNP can offer presently and preferable to most on offer outside the UNP.

 The government has lost votes among the public servants though they still stand in front prominently. Normally the public servants are the trendsetters whose footsteps often are followed by the general public. If this trend develops it does not augur well for a government that has been recruiting a large number of public servants. Government is well ahead but they are in for a good run: possibly just what the doctor prescribed for the public that wanted to register a protest as an antidote for corruption, transparency in governance and lack of law and order prevalent in this government.

 Look at the flipside. Voters are seasoned and experienced hands: those that trekked to the polling booths – voted on conviction than on compulsion: living amidst adverse conditions with spiraling prices that hits their hip pockets and handbags. Like it or not, it’s the peoples’ verdict ” notwithstanding the undue advantage sought by unfair utilization of public assets by the government. If it outrageously repelled the voters, the majorities would have been slimmer. All governments in power are perennial election offenders- an accepted common denominator mindful of the infamous referendum. Voters conveyed the message: there is a protest votes developing against the government that is reflected for the first time after 2005. This is an election from which the opposition can pick the momentum. Yet, presently the government is well ahead and most of its truant supporters may make a come back more due to the frolics of the opposition.

 A significant factor is the low voter turnout compared to the last provincial elections. Was it a silent protest against the government by its supporters or a general apathy towards casting the ballot ”a virtual rejection of all political parties? Strangely UNP did not fare better when UPFA fared poorly. The result will not please either of the major parties if the voting patterns are properly analyzed but the immediate gain is for the opposition. Ballots cast show it is the UPFA voters who stayed more at home ” worrying concern for the government if it gains ground. At a critical future election, government supporters who abstained from voting this time, after watching the conduct of the government in the months to come may opt to come back home or if dissatisfied might switch to the opposition. There will be large pool of floating voters on hold to be tapped.

 People have limits to tolerance, if the economic crunch hits them in the belly. A regime change implemented locally is as unlikely to witness as a Barbie doll dressed in cloth and jacket. If any assignment is left to the Opposition- they will unwittingly strengthen the government. If it is manipulated internationally there is a distant possibility of delivery: yet it will fail to win favor with an electorate that is passionately patriotic. A point ignored by the opposition combine that costs them many elections.

 Provincial Council election results bring forth stark facts more convincingly than predictions made by calculating planetary trajectories. True, Government is fast loosing its popularity at the ground level but when it comes to the vote, notwithstanding unpardonable deficiencies, is still the preferred option. It was the Western and Southern provincial elections that nudged Chandrika Kumaranatunga to power over a long-standing UNP regime and bought her to presidency. For the opposition too, this could be the turning point. Is history repeating itself?

 A queer phenomenon lies between a sharp contrast – blatantly blame the government and afterwards vote comprehensively for its continuity. Answer is simple ” an uninspiring opposition that cannot be placed in power, in fear they might bend to hostile foreigners and sell the country. Votes gained by the opposition switched to Fonseka and JVP rather than to the UNP tells this story with better illustrations. The hangover of winning the war still prevails and haunts an Opposition that stupidly cohabits with forces hostile to the national cause alienating itself from the people. The government majorities are tough to overhaul if those who stayed at home to protest come back to vote. Yes, the next election is dependent on the floating voter. Public servants will start looking at the opposition and that will accelerate with time as the national elections near.

 Colombo city looks at its best yet that did not bring the desired vote for the government: walkers and joggers that take exercise praise the facilities but does not exercise the vote in favor of those who provided the amenities. That is democracy working overtime splendidly. It also shows the difference of mentality between the reebok society and the barefoot association.

 Some are bred and born UNP of hard rock that will not move unless detonated, some others living in Colombo accept it is truly a beautified city but find the corrosive stink within the government too nauseating to approve notwithstanding the emerging dainty landscape. Their vote speaks of their conscience. Rural folk still show gratitude for winning the war while the urbanites thrive in it for themselves.

 The emergence of Sarath Fonseka is attributable to dissatisfaction originating from the mainstream parties. Sarath Fonseka or his Democratic Party cannot make a serious challenge at the national level but the presence will prevent an anti government bulk vote being attracted to the UNP as Sarath Fonseka has a picked substantial portion of it. Being the common candidate at the last presidential election, Fonseka has been able to retain and acquire support from those that oppose the UPFA and UNP ” more a worry for the UNP. Is Fonseka, a resting place for a weary traveller from the UPFA to UNP to wait and watch and set his compass to complete the journey or go back home?  Majority of the people desire to vote for an established party like the UPFA or UNP. Party is more important than an individual. Party machinery of experience is a valued product far more than a bunch of rag tags making a fleeting appearance during election time.

 An aspect UNP needs to ponder – is there is an effort to select a common candidate for the Presidential election again, from outside the UNP?  They should not make the mistake of jettisoning the opportunity while being mindful that a common candidate is the only answer for the UNP provided it provides the candidate. Results show the JVP or Sarath Fonseka are mere shadows compared to the UNP in garnering votes.

 Damn the economy ” money jingles in the pockets of the zestful emerging rural/urban lower middle class yet does not last long with the frequent price-hikes. The boom took off with the winning of the war giving a thumbs up signal to economic resurgence of enterprising individuals in a peaceful society – it does not extend to the corporates because it is too visible to the political authority: easier to pick such pockets. Private sector has slavishly bowed humbly to accommodate the political authority and has to pay the price for it.

 Those that live for today and think of the country for tomorrow without foreign domination mostly voted for the government; but those who remember of a better yesterday where there were shades of democracy and better governance, voted for the opposition ” democrats, socialists, idealists, liberalists and colonialists. 

 On every possible classification ”except in metropolitan Colombo  ” the government maintains a formidable lead in votes. Opposition has to set up a credible road map to strategize a comeback.  The opposition in desperation may seek foreign assistance for a regime change but that is likely to backfire as bulk of the people will be hostile to any foreign inter-meddling and will rally around the lion flag and back the government. The holding of the national elections is unlikely to be delayed until 2016. The government is on notice to change its style of governance. The government might opt for a general election rather than a presidential on the results just published. Neither the UPFA nor the UNP can rest on laurels of this result. The result is more comforting to the JVP and Democratic Party, but the furthest they can travel is to battle for the third and fourth positions.

 All the benefits that accrued to the several opposition parties might finally sit on the lap of the UNP ” if it does the work an opposition is expected to perform. Problem for the government is that unless confidence is installed rapidly an exodus might quietly begin among the fortune hunters, as there are too many rats in the UPFA ship, if it sinks, waiting to run.


  1. Lorenzo Says:

    Voters turnout was 68%.

    Last parliamentary elections voters turnout was 61%.

    So actually the voters turnout was HIGHER this time!!!

  2. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    One illusion the West has sold to the rest of the world is that Democracy is the panacea for all problems. IT IS NOT! Just in those very same western nations ranging from the oldest “Democracy” the United States, to the United Kingdom who boasts of her one thousand year old reformist document the Magna Carta which reduced the power of the monarchy and created the parliament to India being the world largest “Democracy” the concept of Democracy has long ceased to exist.
    In India to even call that nation a Democracy is a mockery of that term, and a shameless exhibition of ignorance. India is first and foremost a Caste ridden nation. In her 1.2 Billion population the majority are Hindus steeped into the caste system. This also applies to her burgeoning middle class. All one needs to do is look at the matrimonial section of any Indian newspaper and Caste is the FIRST issue of the matrimonial proposition. Simply put a society that sees man as UNEQUAL by birth and treats humans either lower or higher than his brother goes against the very principles of Democracy. In a Democratic society man (and for that matter women) are equal regardless of gender or race. For India to become a true Democracy she has to give up the Caste system or the world should recognize that elections alone does not define Democracy. Either India gives up Democracy for the Caste system or give up the Caste system for Democracy.

    On another note India’s wealth disparity is so vast that a few thousand people hold most of the nations wealth and by that her power, while the rest of the one Billion two hundred million are so poor that their lives do not even matter… except during elections. Keep in mind Communist countries to most Dictatorships also hold elections.

    Take the US for example. Just like India a few thousand people hold 99% of the nations wealth & by that the power of the nation. The remaining 1% is shared by the remaining 315 million people. That is by no definition a functioning Democracy. It is a fully functioning Oligarchy where the few elite govern the rest.

    Take the EU for instance. With the exception of Switzerland or Luxemburg, Not a single nation in Europe can claim to be a functioning Democracy. Most of the EU have entrenched Socialist governments where like in the US to India a few wealthy people control the nation. Under the Socialist systems the people have little rights except those that the elite allow them to have. For example in Socialist Europe the people are not allowed to own guns. That is by and large the sole prerogative of the government. Before the Nazi party took control Germany’s population had that right. But after they took control that right to own a gun was one of the first to be removed. To this day Europe follows the policies of a Socialist system and not a functioning Democracy. I venture to state this strongly but not emphatically.

    Eastern Europe is far from being a collection of the brilliant light of a functioning Democracy. Ukraine which was once the bread basket of Eastern Europe and one of the wealthiest nations has been reduced to penury by the same elite group of extremely wealthy and powerful individuals who stole the wealth of the nation for their personal gains. Russia the “white man’s” bastion is definitely not a Democracy but definitely will become the risen power of the West.

    If Democracy is not the panacea for all problems then Sri Lanka being the oldest continuing Buddhist nation may fare far better as a Buddhist Theocracy than accepting the Secular doctrines and the trumped up notions of Democracy pushed by the Western nations who themselves are not what they preach. Considering Sri Lanka’s long history, her greatest and most brilliant times were when the nation functioned under a theocratic system. Then the Sanga played a central role in the governance of the nation and in the civic duties to the people. The royalty listened to the Sanga and both worked for the betterment of the people. Now all the political divisions since independence can be blamed on the pseudo Democracy that Sri Lanka has slavishly accepted from her Colonial masters. Even the rise of the Tamil Tigers and the war against Tamil terrorism was a by product of giving too much to the minorities as prescribed by Western style Democratic propaganda.

    The Tamil Tigers used the principles of Democracy to demand more autonomy, even to the level of a Federal system, another import from the West and almost achieved Eelam if not for a Parakramabahu style attack on them by President Rajapakse and his brother Gotabaya. Again the UN is charging Sri Lanka of human rights violations based on a set of principles embedded in a Democratic system during peace times. To make this point as clear as possible the UN seldom if ever questions the Sharia laws of 50 odd Muslim Theocracies whose practice of the Sharia laws makes a mockery of the UNHRC and yet they are allowed to not only function as theocracies but thrive as theocracies. One more example of a fully functioning Western theocracy is the Vatican itself who holds a seat in the UN. In the Vatican the concept of Democracy is alien to a hierarchy that starts from the Pope and works its way down to the people.

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