Trump Factor in U.S. and Rajapaksa Factor in Sri Lanka
Posted on March 19th, 2016

By Daya Gamage – Asian Tribune Media Note

Washington, D.C. 19 March (Asiantribune.com):

One could see some similarities in billionaire-businessman Donald Trump’s ascendency to the front-runner position in the nation-wide primary elections to secure nomination to be the Republican Party presidential candidate for this November U.S. election and former Sri Lanka president Mahinda Rajapaksa’s display of his nation-wide mass base and his commanding position in his party in recent times.

Trump is on his way to grab the nomination despite short of the required 1237 delegates but way ahead of other contenders within the Republican Party; he has the backing of 40% Republican primary voters and caucus-goers to consolidate a firm position for the nomination when the party convention meets this July; this 40% includes a remarkable proportion of Americans who never voted, never went to any polling station all these years, never interested in politics nevertheless attracted to Mr. Trump’s populist message; the hierarchy of the party – the establishment section – which controls power is so disturbed that it is conspiring to deny the nomination to Trump despite he being the front runner. Sensing this scenario, Mr. Trump said that there will be riots if he is denied nomination.

What the hierarchy of the Republican Party ignores is that those who rallied around Trump is a crucial vote block in November this year to win the White House defeating the Democratic Party candidate, possibly former secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

The March 17 ‘Joint Opposition’ rally at Hyde Park in Colombo clearly manifested that a significant section of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party was behind Mahinda Rajapaksa and that the controlling authority of the party cannot ignore that reality if it wants the party to have a separate identity to survive as a formidable political force in Sri Lanka denying its perennial foe the United National Party the share of political power.

When Trump won almost a landslide at March 15 Republican Party nominating process in about ten states, he gave a very simple message: If the hierarchy of the party -who is conspiring to deny him nomination as the party presidential candidate this November – should realize that a good percentage of American who were disinterested in going to polls rallied round the party and that if they were wise enough they would keep this vast support to use against the Democratic Party to win the White House.

The Hyde Park rally gave the same message: a formidable section of the SLFP is behind Mahinda Rajapaksa with a good percentage of masses backing that section. To paraphrase Trump, if the SLFP wants to run the nation on its own in the future and succeed in local government and provincial elections it should keep this formidable (parliamentary) section within the party and hold on to the masses who support that formidable section and its leader Rajapaksa preventing a break-up of the party to ensure minority rule of the United National Party.

This is the reality both in the United States and Sri Lanka. Both Trump and Rajapaksa are populists attracted to vast section of the masses of the people.

Before coming to the Mahinda Rajapaksa factor, let’s investigate the Donald Trump factor.

If Donald Trump does not win enough delegates to clinch the Republican nomination before the party meets this summer, it might produce something millions of Americans have never seen: a contested convention.

This could be a real mess, said Richard Berg-Andersson, researcher for The Green Papers, which studies the nominating process.

Trump, the New York billionaire businessman, as of today, has 673 delegates, and needs 564 more to be nominated. The only candidate with a reasonable chance of catching up is Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who has 411 and needs 826. Gov. John Kasich of Ohio has 143.

The last time a major-party candidate entered a convention without a majority was in 1976, when President Gerald Ford had to convince blocs of uncommitted delegates to back him over challenger Ronald Reagan. The last time a convention went beyond one ballot was in 1952, when Democrats chose Adlai Stevenson on the third ballot.
Republican delegates are awarded by each state, usually based on primary or caucus votes. In some states, delegates are elected directly, while in others candidates choose delegates.

On the first ballot at the July Republican convention, virtually all the delegates must vote for their candidates. In some states, however, they are not bound. The rules loosen on a second ballot. Most of the delegates, but not all, can vote for anyone they want. On a third ballot, almost all the delegates are free. This is called a contested convention.

In the case of delegates won by dropped-out candidates: Those candidates cannot control their already won delegates as they are not in the race for nomination. They can only recommend.

What kind of maneuvering is likely before the convention? The convention Rules Committee is important. It usually meets a few days before the convention opens, and it has one man and one woman from each state (50 in all) and six territories or other jurisdictions. It can decide, among other things, what it takes to get one’s name placed in nomination, meaning the name is eligible for votes in the full convention. The party hierarchy – which does not favor the nomination of Donald Trump – has lot of influence in this committee.

If Trump is close to 1,237, is a contested convention likely?

That’s still to be determined,” said veteran GOP legal strategist Ben Ginsberg, but you have to pay attention to the (idea) of a contested convention.”

There is a strong move in the Republican Party hierarchy to deny nomination to Donald Trump.

The problem for the stop-Trump (similar to stop Rajapaksa campaign by SLFP hierarchy) forces would not only be alienating Trump and his supporters, but also doing exactly what voters have railed against all year: insiders controlling the presidential selection process. The question is: Will the party leaders ignore the wishes of the primary and caucus voters who overwhelmingly supported Trump all these months in more than twenty states? Will the party ignore the most important fact that Trump brought in millions of undecided voters to the Republican ranks that will help win the White House this November? It reflected 35-40% of the vote block in the Republican Party.

Unbound Delegates Could Hold Key to Stopping Trump at Convention: Political parties, not voters, choose their presidential nominees, a Republican convention rules member told CNBC, a day – last Tuesday March 15 – after Republican front-runner Donald Trump rolled up more big primary victories.

“The media has created the perception that the voters choose the nomination. That’s the conflict here,” Curly Haugland, an unbound Republican delegate from North Dakota, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” the day after the Trump landslide. He even questioned why primaries and caucuses are held.

Haugland is one of 112 Republican delegates who are not required to cast their support for any one candidate because their states and territories don’t hold primaries or caucuses.

Even with Trump’s huge projected delegate haul in four state primaries March 15, the odds are increasing the billionaire businessman may not ultimately get the 1,237 delegates needed to claim the Republican nomination before the convention.

This could lead to a brokered convention, in which unbound delegates, like Haugland, could play a significant swing role on the first ballot to choose a nominee.

Most delegates bound by their state’s primary or caucus results are only committed on the first ballot. If subsequent ballots are needed, virtually all of the delegates can vote any way they want, said Gary Emineth, another unbound delegate from North Dakota.

The ultimate result of the 2016 presidential election could yet rest on the likes of Erling Curly” Haugland, a businessman from Bismarck, North Dakota, who will be one of the 2,472 delegates to the Republican party convention in July. And he isn’t saying what he’ll do.

I wouldn’t know until the day of the first ballot [at the July convention in Cleveland, Ohio] because a lot can happen between now and then,” he said.

With the Republican party in uproar over the runaway primary lead of billionaire property mogul Donald Trump, the role of convention delegates could be crucial in deciding who faces Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee.

Then there are Super Delegates who control the party hierarchy in Washington and state party branches who have unfavorable opinion about Donanld Trump despite his winning streak across America in Republican nominating process.

Let’s turn to The Rajapaksa Factor.

A formidable section of the SLFP opposes being an appendage of the UNP. Mahinda Rajapaksa leads that section and close to fifty SLFP-elected parliamentarians support that view. Rajapaksa built the mass base for the party in late 1980s. The Long March (Pada Yatra), Mothers’ Front, Jana Ghosha (a Latin America style protest by consumers using kitchen utensils to make sounds from their dwellings) to get the SLFP out of the ‘Great Hibernation’ during the long UNP rule. It paved the way for Chandrika Kumaratunga to win the Western Provincial Council and subsequently the presidency. This mass base built during that period led the SLFP to govern until its defeat in January 2015.

The hierarchy of the SLFP, which has coalesced with the UNP, seems to have ignored this vital factor giving fodder to someone to write a theses titled ‘Identifying Stupidity’.

The same scenario is seen in the United States the Republican hierarchy scheming to deny Donald Trump party nomination for November presidential election alienating millions brought into the party by Trump.
The SLFP was inaugurated as a distinct force ‘free’ of the right and the left. My father, one of the initial pioneers with T.B. Illangaratna and H. Sri Nissanka, Q.C. (Kurunegala Independent-Socialist parliamentarian) with many others who took the initiative to form the SLFP told me, and later confirmed to me by Mr. Illangaratne, how the party was formed.

Soon after S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike left the UNP in July 1951, the Socialist Front of the Central Province led by Mr. Nissanka – whose joint secretaries were Mr. Ilangaratna and my father (D.W.de S. Gamage) – convened a meeting in Kandy at the residence of T.B.S. Godamunne (owner of Sithumina Book Shop) to have talks of starting a national political party attended by Bandaranaike. After several meetings it was decided to inaugurate the party on 2 September 1951 at Town Hall, Colombo.

The most interesting development was – told by my father and confirmed by Illangaratne – the manner in which the party was named, the color and the symbol.

When several proposed many names to the party, Mr. Bandaranaike explained that the new party should be ‘free’ from the right (UNP) and the left (CP/LSSP). Hence the party name Sri Lanka Freedom Party. When the issue of the symbol arose, Bandaranaike persuaded that the party should use ‘Lord Buddha’s Hand’ as the symbol. The color of the party: Mr. Bandaranaike suggested Blue as the nation is under the protection of Lord Vishnu whose color was Blue.

The section of the party gathered at Hyde Park for the Joint Opposition Rally wanted this identity intact to forge the SLFP ‘free’ of the Right (UNP) and the Ultra Left but a cohabitation with the moderate left.

The similarity here is that the hierarchy of the Republican Party seems to have ignored that Trump brought millions to his party with his populist call and that the hierarchy of the SLFP – which is in cohabitation with the right-wing UNP – seems to be ignorant the mass base Mahinda Rajapaksa has built over the decades and that a fair section of its parliamentarians have coalesced with that section of the masses. This segment is most important for the SLFP to re-gain the authoritative position in the country as much as the Republican Party needs the Trump millions to win the White House this November.

– Asian Tribune –

3 Responses to “Trump Factor in U.S. and Rajapaksa Factor in Sri Lanka”

  1. Christie Says:

    Right wing in the US is rising and hope Indian vermin will suffer under Trump.

  2. Fran Diaz Says:

    Whatever the popularity personalities in USA right now, for Sri Lanka, going along with the present UNP led Yahap means caving into :

    – ECTA
    – 5,000 acres per lot on 99 yr leases to foreigners
    – Bridge tunnel to tamil Nadu
    – plus what will the New Constitution bring re Separatism
    – huge debt accumulating with a bribed & silent Parliament

    and more ….

    Who wants this garbage ?

    Right now Yahap has to sort out the Power crisis. Are they up to it ?

    We think ALL leaders are needed, with MR type leadership, to solve the Money & Power crises plus keeping to National minded actions. Politicos must keep aside the pettiness and think of the millions of People in Lanka.

    Btw, do the Readers know that the Chennai Port is now offering bunkering to ships sans wharf charges etc., and now in hot competition with Lanka and S’pore for bunkering of ships in the area.

    While Lankans are infighting the country is losing out to Tamil Nadu in illegal fishing, now bunkering, and off loading their Tamil Dalits in to Lanka, whilst Lanka also accepts sub standard pharma from TN !

  3. Fran Diaz Says:

    read as ‘Whoever the popular political personalities are the USA right now …. “

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