Perfect Comparison of US and Sri Lankan Ethnic Composition and Presidential Election Voting Pattern
Posted on November 11th, 2016
There are eerie similarities between US ethnic composition and that of Sri Lanka. Without a doubt demographics, importantly, ethnic divisions, play the most important role in elections in all multiethnic democracies. Minorities in particular tend to caste their vote as a block which gives them a voting power above their percentage weight. This is the same in USA as well as Sri Lanka. There is near perfect comparison of US ethnicities (however they may be called) and that of Sri Lanka.
The only similarity of these groups is their percentage and nothing else.
Whites (Buddhists) 70%
Blacks (Hindus) 13%
Hispanics (Muslims) 10%
Asians (Sinhala Christians) 5%
Others (Tamil Christians) 2%
What is more striking is the minority voting pattern. At the January 2015 election, on average 80% of all minorities (including Christians) voted for Sirisena and in November 2016, 74% of minority voters voted for Hillary. Trump received 58% of White majority’s vote and so did Mahinda winning 58% of the Buddhist vote.
Just like in Sri Lanka, the pro-minority candidate had a massive media advantage.
Surely there are dissimilarities as well. US electoral college system awarded Trump the victory whereas Hillary won slightly more votes than him despite coming below 50%. Election funding also differed. Foreign sponsors supported both US candidates unlike Sri Lanka where only one party was supported by foreign elements.
However, there is a bigger message hidden in the US election and how it compares with Sri Lanka. The silent Buddhist majority can be invoked with the right synchronisation. A candidate standing boldly for national interests and particularly Buddhist interests can have it all irrespective of what foreign powers, media manipulation and minority communal gimmicks present. It also opens up a fresh avenue to look at what is called the ethnic problem. Equal individual rights and a single official language without ethnicity centred power devolution surely works in a very similar setting. Then again it is USA!