SLPP Must Contest Presidential Election to Remain Relevant (Otherwise SLPP Will Permanently Slip from the Top)
Posted on April 1st, 2024

Dilrook Kannangara

A debate rages over if the SLPP must contest the presidential election or not. Contesting elections only to win them is a disastrous approach. Win or lose, the SLPP must contest the election and remain relevant. Otherwise, it will permanently slip from the top slot and will never be able to get up there again, especially so at the current and future political climate.

SLPP politicians must learn from the UNP. After the 2005 presidential election, UNP didn’t contest a presidential election. In 2010 and 2015 contesting it was outsourced to others and instead of the UNP they contested from the swan” symbol. In 2019 UNP allowed Sajith to contest it but Sajith chose to create his own party (SJB) to contest it. As a result, the UNP which was until recently the single largest political party in the country slipped from the top and was reduced to no elected members and just one national list seat. SLPP will collapse to that level if it evades contesting the presidential election.

SLFP also suffered albeit at a lower level from 1988 to 1993 when it refused to contest provincial council elections. A small breakaway party ate into the SLFP vote base as a result which kept it in the opposition longer than it should have. Things changed only when the PA (led by the SLFP) contested provincial council elections. Despite losing most provincial councils in 1993 and eventually securing just two and marginal support in another, PA came to the limelight which led to its parliamentary and presidential election wins a year later.

Ministers who want the SLPP to support Ranil instead of contesting the election have personal agendas. One of them has an ongoing court case involving extortion. If he does not support the current regime, he will end up in prison. That’s the only reason for him to discourage the SLPP from contesting the election.

SLPP should contest the presidential election, contest at the following parliamentary, provincial council and local government elections and remain relevant. Election fortunes will change as the next regime (just like the current one) will be unable to bring the nation out of the economic mess. The lull in economic troubles is only due to not repaying loans. These loans and their interest must be repaid starting later this year. Economic pain will emerge again.

Sajith and Anura are not the only champions of the youth” as they have passed Sri Lanka’s retirement age by now!

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