Nomination Day: Battle lines drawn
Posted on October 6th, 2019

By Sugeeswara Senadhira Courtesy Ceylon Today

By this afternoon (7 October), the final list of candidates for the 16 November presidential election will be known. As Election Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya said earlier, nearly 30 candidates have placed their deposits. 

However, it is a foregone conclusion that the main battle will be between two top candidates, while the next two or three candidates will not be able to get even one million votes collectively.

 All other motley crowd of applicants – most of who are filing nominations for 15 minutes of fame, and a few seconds of television ops – will lose their deposits.

While Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the Podujana Peramuna candidate finally got over legal hurdles, and Sajith Premadasa wrested the UNP candidacy after months of internecine warfare in the Party, the battle line has been clearly defined.

The presidential election race will heat up from today. The outcome of the 2019 presidential and 2020 parliamentary election will determine whether Sri Lanka renews its forward progress on the post-civil war homework of reconciliation and accountability. 

The results matter not only in terms of Sri Lanka’s long-term stability, especially the relationship between the Sinhala majority and the country’ minorities, but also regarding Sri Lanka’s geostrategic position.

Most of the candidates are from recognised political parties. But most of those political parties have very few party members or activists.

 Although there are several minor party candidates and independent candidates, the presidential Contest is essentially a two-person affair. Alliance-building will be part of the process. The coming weeks are bound to be both messy and interesting.

Sri Lanka has a proud history of elections, with 88 years experience in adult franchise, as the voting rights were given to elect the State Council in 1931. With this maturity, the average Sri Lankan voter is not willing to waste his/her vote, by casting it for a candidate who has no chance of winning.

 Hence, in every presidential election, about 85 per cent to 90 per cent of the votes were divided between the first two candidates, and on every election the winner managed to get over 50 per cent, to ensure verdict in the first count, without resorting to a count of second preference of votes.

In the first presidential election of 1982, President J.R. Jayewardene received 3.4 million votes (52.9 per cent) and the main rival, Hector Kobbekaduwa polled 2.5 million. 

The third candidate, Rohana Wijeweera of the JVP could poll only 273,428 votes or a mere 4 per cent.

Second presidential

In the second presidential election in 1988, then Prime Minister, Ranasinghe Premadasa won by polling 2.5 million votes (50.43 per cent).

 He defeated Sirimavo Bandaranaike, who polled 2.2 million votes. The third candidate, Ossie Abeygunasekera could get only 235,719 votes. In 1994, Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga polled a record 62.28 per cent or 4.7 million votes, defeating Srimathi Dissanayake, who polled 2.7 million votes. The other four candidates could collectively get only 137,038 votes.

There were 13 candidates for the 1999 presidential election. The last ten candidates got less than 180,000 votes.

 While Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga won for the second time, with 4.3 million votes (51.12 per cent), the UNP’s Ranil Wickremesinghe polled 3.6 million. The third candidate, Nandana Gunathilake of JVP polled 344,173 votes.

In 2005, too there were 13 candidates and 11 of them got less than 2 per cent of the total. Mahinda Rajapaksa received 4.8 million (50.29 per cent) and Ranil Wickremesinghe polled 4.7 million (48.43 per cent).

There were a record 22 candidates in the 2010 presidential election and Mahinda Rajapaksa romped home with 6.1 million (57.88 per cent) votes, defeating Sarath Fonseka, who polled 4.1 million (40.15 per cent). The other 20 candidates lost their deposits.

In 2015, Maithripala Sirisena polled 6.2 million (51.28 per cent) votes, defeating then President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who polled 5.7 million (47.58 per cent). There were 19 candidates, and barring the first two, others could not cross even the 40,000 mark.

The highest number of votes polled by a third candidate in any presidential election was JVP’s Nandana Gunathilake, who polled 344,174 votes in 1999. However, he could not even get 10 per cent of the 4.3 million votes polled by the winning candidate, Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga.

Upcoming presidential election

In the upcoming presidential election, there are at least two formidable candidates, in addition to the two main candidates.

 Both of them, former Army Commander, General Mahesh Senanayake and JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake hope to do better than the other losing candidates in the past seven presidential elections. 

However, it is highly doubtful if any of the minor candidates, barring the first two, could cross the half million mark.

The above results clearly show that the voters in Sri Lanka have no faith in third candidates, even if they have sound principles and impeccable characters.

 The voters select the candidates backed by the main two national political parties – SLFP and UNP. However, this time, there is a changed scenario, as the Podujana Peramuna has emerged as a formidable national Political Party.

13 Responses to “Nomination Day: Battle lines drawn”

  1. Ananda-USA Says:

    Uncharacteristically, today I FELT SORRY for Sajith!

    He handed in his Nomination Papers, but the UNP Leaders, Ranil, Ravi, Kariwasam were all ABSENT!

    In COMPARISON to ALL the Leders who attended Gota’s nomination event, and the DELIRIOUS Cheering CROWD, there was NO ONE to support Sajith or to CHEER him on!

    What is happening here? Is the UNP ABANDONING Sajith WHOLESALE??

    Sajith looked like an ORPHAN! Is he DAMAGED GOODS for some reason we don’t know about? Are the UNP RATS abandoning the SINKING SHIP?

  2. Ananda-USA Says:

    What is even funnier, is that Nagananda was ABANDONED TODAY by the party that agreed in writing to nominate him AT THE LAST MOMENT!

    He is threatening to PROTEST to the Election Commissioner. A Fat lot of good that will do!

    By his own estimate, Nagananda is an unusually ACCOMPLISHED LAWYER, but to be taken in like this by a bunch of political hacks casts a LOT OF DOUBT on that claim!

    Nagananda was ABANDONED in favor of Mahesh Senanayake! Perhaps Nagananda was deemed not MALLEABLE ENOUGH by that party!

    Nagananda was a FAVORITE of Dilrook; I wonder what Dilrook has to say about this ABSOLUTE DEBACLE for one of his favorite horses in this race!

    But, Mahesh Senanayake and Anura Kumara Dissanayake are in the race, duly enrolled, so Dilrook can still be happy, I suppose!

    Perhaps the lesson is that “There is many a SLIP between the CUP and the LIP” that bookful blockhead lawyers are unaware of??

  3. Ananda-USA Says:

    The Election Commission (EC) today (Oct 7) released the final list of candidates for the upcoming presidential election scheduled to be held on November 16.

    Earlier, 41 candidates placed cash deposits to contest at the presidential election.

    However, only 35 candidates had handed over nomination papers today.

    Two objections submitted to the Elections Commission regarding the nominations were rejected by the Commission.

    Among those who did not handover nominations today were ;

    Basheer Segu Dawood
    Jayantha Liyanage
    Kumara Welgama
    Chamal Rajapaksa
    Gunapala Tissakuttiarachchi
    Maheepala Herath

    The candidates who would be contesting the election are as follows :

    Name of candidate Party

    Gotabhaya Rajapakse Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna

    Anura Kumara Dissanayake National People’s Movement

    Sajith Premadasa New Democratic Front

    Mahesh Senanayake National Peoples Party

    Ariyawansha Dissanayake Democratic United National Front

    Ajantha Perera Socialist Party of Sri Lanka

    Saman Prasanna Perera Our Power of People Party

    Sirithunga Jayasuriya United Socialist Party

    Bedde Gamage Nandimithra Nawa Sama Samaja Party

    Vajirapani Wijesiriwardene Socialist Equality Party

    Sarath Manamendra Nawa Sihala Urumaya

    Rohan Pallewatte Jathika Sanghwardhena Peramuna

    A.S.P. Liyanage Sri Lanka Labour Party

    Battaramulle Seelarathana Thero Jana Satha Peramuna

    Duminda Nagamuwa Frontline Socialist Party

    Rajeewa Wijesinghe Independent

    Aruna de Soysa Democratic National Movement

    Ajantha de Soysa Ruhuna Janatha Peramuna

    Priyantha Munihath Edirisinghe Okkoma Wasiyo Okkoma Rajawaru Sanvidanaya

    Namal Rajapaksa Nationalities Unity Organisation

    Subramanium Gunaratnam Our National Front

    Ketagoda Gamage Jayantha Perera Independent

    Siripala Amarasinghe Independent

    Aparekke Punnananda Thero Independent

    Milroy Fernando Independent

    Samansiri Herath Independent

    Vijithakumara Keerthiratne Independent

    Chaminda Anurudhdha Independent

    Samaraweera Weeravanni Independent

    Ashoka Wadigamangawa Independent

    Illias Idroos Mohamed Independent

    Piyasiri Wijenayake Independent

    M.K. Sivajalingam Independent

    M.L.A.M. Hisbullah Independent

    Ahmed Hassan Mohamed Alavi Independent

  4. Dilrook Says:

    Nagananda was my favourite not because of his clan but because of his plan.

    His plan is taken forward by Mahesh and the team.

  5. Mario Perera Says:


    I do not see your name anywhere on the list?


    What happened? Did you forget to pay your deposit or through forgetfulness did you send in your application as ‘Ananda-USA’ instead of ‘Ananda-Dompe’?

    And you could easily have got yourself a delirious cheering crowd just for a ‘bath packet’ and a ‘quarter glass of pol arakku’.

    Mario Perera, Kadawata

  6. Randeniyage Says:

    Naga was dream candidate which most of the people in Lankaweb was asking for for years. That is not because he is wearing “Satakaya” or because he is a great killer of enemies or because he is building houses for the poor.

    But because of his “dream constitution” and plan in hand.
    1. One Country ( No more devisions= Plaath Sabhas and divide and rule “king” EP
    2. One Nation ( no more minorities)
    3. One Law (no more minority Laws and “king clan Law”, even the king can be arrested and prosecuted)

    Mahesh and the team has not taken it forward, they are, as others promising Yahapalanayak. All the teams and clans have stolen the slogans of Naga and destroying the meanings.
    Hopefully JVP any other minority party will take the cream of the concepts forward, whether they win or not.

  7. Dilrook Says:

    The main thing is to initiate it. Whatever his other deficiencies are Naga set it in motion. Now it is a waiting game.

    Whoever wins the election will be faced with the debt trap. There will be more taxes, more strikes, more unrest, killings, riots, UNHRC fun, possible sanctions, etc. A Polpot cannot save Sri Lanka.

    These things will push the common man to an alternative. It is a long march.

  8. Randeniyage Says:

    Or a “willing consumer” mentioned elsewhere ? More than their beloved masters, out of personal gratification, these people have done immense damage to their original motherland. Their demands come only after their master come to power , not during elections. Their rain of mud and stones arrive soon after their opponent comes to power but what they are doing is releasing the same stuff down onto the poor countrymen left behind by them.

  9. Ananda-USA Says:


    Do you choose inept theoreticians based on an IMPRACTICAL PLAN, or on the basis of OVERALL SOUNDNESS and EFFECTIVENESS?

    See CHAPA’s criticism of Nagananda’s proposals. I agree with many of CHAPA’s points!

    Besides, how can a man who can’t manage his own nomination, govern the Nation?

    Come on Dilrook, IDEAS are GOOD but they must be PRACTICAL! Get the wool out of your head!

  10. Ananda-USA Says:

    Mario Perera from Kadawatha,

    Being from Kadawatha, you should know better than me about the intricacies of imbibing “arraku”.

    Imbing arraku to excess results in incoordation of the extremities, that may explain why you sometimes you lose your cool and start raving!

    In reply to your question, I am not on that list of Presidential candidates because I don’t want to be on it. I am too old now to get into running for political office and want to devote the remaining years of my life to more USEFUL and PRODUCTIVE pursuits, irrespective of whether I fit better into USA or into Dompe!

    I am already TRYING HARD to RESCUE and HANDOVER a Political Party enmeshed in a LEGAL DISPUTE that I inherited, to a group of well-educated, patriotic leaders, and that is ENOUGH personal political involvement.

    I help Patriotic Leaders get elected because I love my Motherland and my people. My main interest is in adopting, caring for and educating as many nearly orphaned children as I can.

    That is EASILY the most satisfying thing I have done in my relatively long life!

  11. Mario Perera Says:

    Thank you Ananda.

    Wishing you ‘ad multos annos’

    With kind regards


  12. Ananda-USA Says:

    Dr. M.D.P. Diassanayake,

    In my view, your prediction of 53.54% for Gota is MORE CORRECT than Dilrook’s 48%.

    I think that Gota’s votes will EXCEED 60% based PRIMARILY on my judgment of VOTER SENTIMENT!

    There will be a veritable TSUNAMI-like change in voting patterns that will overwhelm the classical bean-counting considerations and limitations set by community affiliations and political philosophy.

    This SEA-CHANGE will be DRIVEN by a WHOLESALE ABANDONMENT of the inept and treasonous UNP and the opportunistic JVP by Sinhala voters and their EMBRACE of the SLPP. The SLFP voter will vote MASSIVELY for the SLPP irrespective of what its fickle leaders do.

  13. Ananda-USA Says:

    My ROUGH GUESS based on PERCEIVED Voter Sentiment

    Lakhs of Voters

    AFFILIATION PAST (2015/2018) Gota Sajith Anura Kumara

    SLPP/Mahinda 50 -> 50 0 0
    UNP 36 -> 6 30 0
    SLFP 14 -> 12 1 1
    JVP 5 -> 2 0 3
    TNA 5 -> 0 5 0
    SLMC 1 -> 0 1 0

    TOTAL 111 70 37 4
    PERCENT 100% 63% 33% 4%

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