8 August, 2022


August Elections: FPP Vs. PR Slicing Of Numbers

By Mano Ratwatte

Mano Ratwatte

Mano Ratwatte

This election will be cut and analyzed and sliced and diced in many ways by experts and happy or disappointed analysts on both sides.

Here is one non-scientific look at the results. It is fascinating to do the numbers after the smoke clears using statistically valid measurements. This analysis may be wrong, but after doing a quick scan on old First Past the Post (FPP) gets 74 seats for UPFA and 69 seats for UNP in 20 districts. Is this funny math?

Or do the numbers even by PR percentage tell us that it was not a landslide nor a rout as some biased journalists are saying? One says it was a “mauling”; definitely if you compared to anomalous 2010 runaway election yes, but not just this round; it looks more like the 1994 election than anything else.

For the purpose of this table, only 20 districts outside the ITAK or separatist agenda districts were considered. Those were “one horse” races for the TNA.

FPPNow in contrast, under current PR, it is clear that the UNP led coalition received 47% of the seats and UPFA received 42% of the seats thus more accurately representing the pulse of the voters nationwide. Some say that way back in April the Prime Minister, being the astute gentleman he is, wanted to conduct this election on the basis of PR for that reason. Whatever JRJ wanted to accomplish by his constitution helped his party in a big way this time.

PR worked really well to represent individual votes correctly. Whatever doubts we had about the PR system worked to represent individual votes better than the Westminster British FPP system.

Proportional representation made it a far better battle than FPP. The UFPA swept the 3 southern districts (Hambantota all 4 seats and Galle and Matara most seats) and in Kalutara UNP only won Beruwela according to FPP.

In Colombo UNP swept all the Colombo City seats which have traditionally been UNP seats. The divisions in the nation and lack of credibility of the UNP in the deep South (places which suffered UNP and JVP violence such as Hambantota in the 1987-89 period) are interesting and troubling.

Similarly the lack of credibility in large urban centers and in areas represented by significant numbers of minorities by the UPFA is also sad. Alienating Muslim votes cost them a lot in Beruwela and places like Mawanella and suburbs of Colombo; Dehiwela Galkissa and Ratmalana were traditionally leftist seats and late CV who was assassinated by Tamil Terrorist Tigers was very popular.

UNP swept what is also called the Catholic belt and it is those margins that helped UNP clinch Gampaha under PR. UPFA was saved in Kandy district only and only because of PR where they got more than the 1 seat they would have received if it were a FPP. PR saved the UNP in Hambantota, Galle, Matara and Kalutara. The so called Catholic belt became an assured part of PA politics only because of CBK’s inclusive policies and her very charismatic populist husband the late Vijaya Kumaratunga and dynamic leaders such as Jeyaraj Fernandopulle who was also killed by Tamil terrorists. They have gone back to the UNP.

Ranil MaithriMoratuwa’s result was surprisingly closer than anticipated despite its religious break down and having a very popular evangelical albeit an ethical righteous man as candidate in a seat which favors the UNP from the day of legendary Tyronne Fernando.

Typically when selecting nominees all parties consider race religion and caste when giving nominations in certain districts. Colombo City is the only truly urban sauve district which does not seem to fall into any stereotype and is extremely diverse in demographic distributions.

Ratnapura district yet was a very interesting district with the significant dominant Muslim minority helping the UNP win Balangoda again with their traditional UNP Sinhala votes too. Ratnapura is a more well off district compared to others but there were some shockers in FPP count. Polonaruwa was a given to UNP because it is the President’s district(home district like Home State in the US in presidential elections; only exception was when Mondale lost his own state in a rout!)..”apey naayakayaagey ” district can be applied to Polonaruwa and Hambantota.

But margins of UNP defeat in the South are as stunningly disappointing as their impressive clear 1977 like trouncing of the UFPA in Colombo City seats and some seats in Gampaha District. Sajith Premedasa still could not wrestle his old seat under FPP and that is a disappointment.

Arrogant and aloof nature might be why UNP is still not accepted in the Sinhala majority areas of the South. What is rewarding to see is UNP beating Tamil Separatist ITAK in Trincomalee; it puts paid to their bogus claim to a “right to a homeland” in the East and to merge it with the north. The new regime’s tasks are unenviable! Gampaha and Colombo were what clinched it for the UNP.

All in all UNP clearly appears to be more inclusive of all ethno and religious minorities making it a national and Urbano-centric party but overall in the heartland, it still has a long way to go to earn the credibility of a majority of the majority community in Sri Lanka. UPFA is in danger of becoming like the whites only GOP ! The UNP becoming a tapestry of representation of all Sri Lankans of all races and religions and clearly had a massive edge in the urban technology savvy first time voter youth and educated youth blocs. This writer expressed that concern in a previous article about divisions and the SLFP going back to a one dimensional party.

PR has turned out to be a better system than simply an FPP. But UNP also should not ululate and shout about a landslide and therefore GOVERN with equanimity and don’t become the thugs they became after a few good years when they won 5/6th in 1977 or how MR’s gang became arrogant thugs after 2010 when the war was won. It is the ideal combination of MS and RW with a unity government that can make Sri Lanka a nation of laws and not men and instill Good Governance into the national psyche. That will require a superhuman effort not to hide and protect criminals and wrong-doers and reduce the degree of corruption and kickbacks. Bravo to President Sirisena and RW as well as the police and the indomitable Elections Commissioner for conducting the most peaceful election in SL history! That augurs well for Sri Lanka’s future .


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Latest comments

  • 3

    PR works fairly only if multi-ethnicity is evenly distributed Island-wide ; multi-ethnicity being mostly seen in affluent coastal urban areas.

    Large part of the hinterland is unfairly disadvantaged by PR.

    It is, as if, the affluent, urban, multi-ethnic areas, get double the Lankan vote.

    • 1

      Mano Ratwatte

      RE:August Elections: FPP Vs. PR Slicing Of Numbers

      Rejected Votes 517,000 , 4.42% of Votes Polled

      Sri Lanka Literacy rate 96%, Illiteracy rate 4%.

      Any Co-relation. They polled more than TNA.

      Then 23% did not Vote.

      Who voted and who did nor?

      What are the characteristics? Literacy? Ethnicity, Religion, Class status, Caste etc?

      What is the profile of the Voter and non-voter?

  • 4

    It’s a good analysis, UPFA got 74 & UNP 69 balance I think 25 ( if the total seats was 168) would have gone to TNA.

    What we really want is
    1. Representation of all the political parties in parliament
    2. Avoiding Preferential vote ,since it requires dozens of millions for campaigning & encourages black money in politics, deprives clean , better candidates a place in parliament.

    Answer to this question is mix of FPP & PR .
    The number of seats should go up especially in Plantation areas since more people got Citizenship during last 3 decades.
    The electorates should be increased in other areas as well ,according to population , for example in Western Province. So finally it may come up to something like 180 seats for FPP & major parties would share it & they can field good candidates instead of people who can spend millions of black money. Problem 2 is solved.

    To tackle problem 1, we need to make sure smaller parties like JVP who cannot win any seat in FPP but have a 3% – 6% of total votes & their voice ( protest or alternate) is very important in parliament.

    So some 10% of seats or 22.5 out of 225 seats , should be allocated to those who cannot get any seats from FPP, this % should be flexible & determined only after the election results are announced, if not , if they poll only 1% , they still get 22 seats , which is unfair. The balance should be shared by all the parties according to their national poll average on a national list or from best losers in FPP.

    If we take this election result it would be like this .

    180 seats FPP system.

    UPFA – 74/168 X 180 = 79
    UNP – 69/168 x 180 = 74
    TNA – 25/168 x 180 = 27

    Flexible %

    JVP 6 % from 225 = 14

    Sub Total =194

    Balance –(225-194=31)

    UNP- 46 % from 31 = 14
    UPFA-43% from 31 = 13
    JVP- 6% from 31 = 2
    TNA- 5 % from 31 = 2

    Final Tally.

    UPFA = 92
    UNP = 88
    TNA = 29
    JVP = 16

    Total = 225

    Something like this should be worked out, then all the parties would be represented & no any black money needed to contest election for preferential votes & major political parties can field better people as candidates .

    • 0

      1) FFP system UPFA wins.

      2) Mix of FFP and PR system UPFA wins yet again.

      Both systems 1 and 2 are most apt for Sri Lankan situation. PR-system does not take into account country demographics, heritage, ability, and Democracy.

      2015 general election with PR-system is therefore invalid.

      • 0

        No, for this exercise I just assumed additional 12 seats from FPP would be as same as earlier 168 results. (I did not care who really win or lose)In fact these 12 seats would come from Plantation areas & western province so at least 8 out of 12 should be for UNP , 04 for UPFA & 00 for TNA.

        Therefore UNP’s FPP would be 69 + 8 = 77
        UPFA 74 + 4 = 78
        TNA =25 only.

        So final tally would be
        UNP 77+14 =91
        UPFA 78+13=91
        TNA 25+2=27
        JVP 14+2=16

        Total 225

        • 2

          Easy to manipulate the numbers, isn’t it.

          • 0

            Sudu Nangi,
            Certainly not, what I think is that there should be a fair representation in parliament , if we have some 20 million people , 1 electorate should have 100,000 people if we have 200 FPP seats, so FPP should accommodate that with re demarcating electoral seats .
            I think in urban areas it should be 150,000 & 75,000 in rural areas areas, because you cannot expect people to go 25 km to see an MP in rural areas , like wise things should change & I just gave an idea as tow ot should happen.

            • 0

              Moi?…..ah, ha, ah, ha, ha,…(cute)

              Maybe you mean gerrymandering……..who’s to stop that? I think current regime did gerrymandering with Jvp and Tna votes. I think they also did FPP for Tna, and PR for Jvp. They also used the two systems for different districts. They made algorithms work for them – illegal!

  • 0

    Lies damn lies statistics

  • 3

    Peaceful elections, two in a row now. Good heavens, what is this country coming to?

  • 2

    This article is a very good analysis, apparently guiding to-wards appropriate electoral process for Sri Lanka for the reasons mentioned by John though in real application It is definitely far from that, since we are deriving human minds for representation and not just numbers for replacement. Mixed representative system it should be called rather than Mixed Electoral process.
    In mixed electoral process both will be in operation as PR will operate in the ethnic districts such as Badulla, Batticoloa, Colombo, Digamadulla, Gampaha, Kandy, Nuweraeliya, Trincomalee, and Vanni, whereas rest of the districts will elect through FPP but such system cannot be employed due to fundamental equality is in stake. In the mixed representative system the election will be under the FPP and PP representation is derived from that FPP election results and that is how it has been proposed as well. This particular August 17th 2015 election has proved beyond doubt that each electoral district shall be allocated not less than 5 seats for PP to derive the appropriate minority representation of the district either it may be Sinhalese or Tamil or Muslims. (This in total contrast to previous views elsewhere) One each for ethnic community and 2 for voter behaviour or electoral behaviour. That means minimum of 110 seats required to enjoy the best benefits of the PP from each of the Electoral District. The last election under total FPP contained 160 electorates for 168 seats, therefore minimum of 260 seats are required to get the best benefits of both system and it should be far more than 260 if the proposed mixed representation to be successful.

  • 1

    JVP polled 40000 more votes than the TNA, and yet ended up with ONLY 6 MPs compared to TNA’s 16. EVERY vote does NOT have the same value.

    This should be corrected long before the next election.

  • 1

    Mr. Ratwatte: You write:
    Mr. Ratwatte: You write

    “What is rewarding to see is UNP beating Tamil Separatist ITAK in Trincomalee; it puts paid to their bogus claim to a “right to a homeland” in the East and to merge it with the north.

    Surely you must be aware that this putting paid to the bogus claims of a right to a homeland has come about via strategic resettlement through the Mahaweli and other Projects by the UNP and the architects admitted that this was precisely the design that they had. This leaving aside many historians who have written about it.

    The price was paid by the settlers and neighbours had been a heavy price and the poisoning ethnic relations through such land settlements also led to a long war for which the settler and even a lot of others paid a terrible price.

    And whats sad is that so many predicted this was the likely outcome.

    It will be nice if after 30 years of war, we can at least acknowledge the cost of the UNP winning in Seruvila/Trinco even if you think the price was worth it.

  • 1


    Please pardon, read the middle of the Last paragraph

    “This particular August 17th 2015 election has proved beyond doubt that each electoral district shall be allocated not less than 5 seats for PP to derive the appropriate minority representation of the district either it may be Sinhalese or Tamil or Muslims. (This in total contrast to my previous views elsewhere) One each for ethnic community and 2 for voter behaviour or electoral behaviour”

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