Colombo Telegraph

August Elections: FPP Vs. PR Slicing Of Numbers

By 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.

Now 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.

Moratuwa’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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