13 Plus Cannot Bring Minority Votes for Ranil; Just Drop It
Posted on August 15th, 2023

Dilrook Kannangara

13 Plus has the best chance of passing parliament this time as all parties desperately try to win minority support. However, since all parties support 13 Plus, no party can gain political mileage over others using it. Ranil won most Tamil and Muslim votes whenever he contested for president (1999 and 2005), however, he cannot win minority votes this time as Rajapaksas are aligned to him.

Tamils, Muslims and Christians have no faith in Rajapaksas, to say the very least, and would reject anyone who is perceived to be aligned with them. If Rajapaksas don’t contest against Ranil, minorities will assume they are in the same boat and will reject both, 13 Plus or even full federal. All parties other than the SJB rely on Buddhist votes to go past the 50% required to win the presidential election or come as close to it as possible. All minority votes (30%) will be a SJB block vote at the next presidential election.

Sinhala moderate voters are also divided between the three main political camps, SJB, SLPP/Ranil and JVP. However, if the JVP fields Dr Harini Amarasuriya for the presidential election, SLPP/Ranil camp will lose Sinhala moderate voters almost entirely. This forces the SLPP/Ranil camp to focus solely on Sinhala Buddhist hardline voters to see them through. Sadly, Sinhala Buddhist hardliners will also reject them if they grant 13 Plus to minorities. It is a lose-lose situation for Ranil and Rajapaksas. This is why they must not touch 13A, 13P or power devolution heading into an election.

Understanding minority voter mentality is key to control the damage. Since no minority voter will be voting for Ranil or anyone aligned to Rajapaksas, the only sensible thing for them to do is to retain Sinhala Buddhist hardline voters. Trying to woo minority voters is like running after a mirage looking for water. It only exhausts the hapless victim.

Rajapaksas need a Plan B if Ranil fails to win. Otherwise, they go out of business with Ranil. They should be able to quickly position themselves as the party of choice for Buddhist hardliners for the next parliamentary election if Ranil loses. This cannot be done if SLPP factions vote for 13 Plus. After bad experience following the Nugegoda resurrection of Mahinda, even the patriotic camp of the SLPP is now unwilling and incapable of repeating it.

On the other hand, if Ranil cannot get enough votes to pass 13 Plus, he will dissolve the parliament, or cause it to get dissolved (by allowing the budget to be defeated) which means a parliamentary election. A parliamentary election first, gives the JVP the best opportunity to get the highest possible number of seats it can win (at the expense of the SLPP). The JVP will win a smaller number of seats if the presidential election is held first, as the JVP has no chance of winning the presidential election. Ranil knows this and uses it as a bargaining tool with the SLPP.

Drop 13A, 13P and devolution, or suffer an unprecedented election defeat from which many old political clans will not recover.

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