18 September, 2019

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Did Mahinda Lose A Presidential Election On February 10th 

By Sanja De Silva Jayatilleka

Sanja De Silva Jayatilleka

I am sorry, but I just don’t get it. I thought what we had was a local government election, specifically for the purpose of deciding which parties assumed control of those local, grassroots, area-based institutions depending on the number members elected.

The electoral results shown on the map of Sri Lanka by the media indicating the administrative areas gained (which is what it was all about), was awash in deep maroon, the designated colour of the new SLPP covering most of its territory, pushing other colours representing other older parties to the margins and a couple of small blobs in the centre. It was quickly described as a ‘landslide’.

How that victory could be interpreted as anything but phenomenal and unprecedented is unclear since the new party’s intention was to capture power at the local government level and they exceeded their expectations in the very first election they faced gaining over 71% of the LG institutions. I’d say that was an impressive performance that left the ruling UNP scrambling for percentages that hypothetically and pathetically made them appear winners in a whole different context, but only if time had stood still since 2015. But much water and Bond Scam dollars had flowed under that half-built bridge in the last 3 years.

From the time the results of the resounding victory for the Pohottuwa symbol started to trickle in, a drop at a time until well past the promised hour when there was an unstoppable flood, it seemed like the newly formed party, too new to have state power of any sort, had crushed the long established parties in government to a humiliating defeat.

The Pohottuwa campaign worked like a dream. It was specifically tailored to securing as many of the LG authorities as they could, and they seemed to have employed a number of election-winning tactics to achieve this. They had experienced politicians handling the strategy and tactics, one of which was that they should urge the public to not confine themselves to local issues in making their decision but to have their say through their ballot on the government’s performance on national issues as well, in comparison to the progress achieved by the previous administration, not least in terms of the cost of living and infrastructure development. Mahinda Rajapaksa supported it fully and got on their platforms, while his picture was ubiquitous at all their meetings as the inspiration for their movement.

To a public starved of timely elections which had been postponed several times on the flimsiest of excuses for 3 years while the citizens struggled with issues that cried out for protest, this was too good a chance to miss. The Pohottuwa just raked it in.

The voting public was not unaware that their vote would bring a Pohottuwa administration into their local government institutions while the National Government was in the hands of the two major parties in the island. There were even some unseemly announcements by those in government that they may not be given the required funds to run those institutions, if people voted for the new party. Nevertheless, the voters chose to wield their ballot for the SLPP.

By the time the Elections Commissioner got around to generously giving us citizens the final results of our vote for which we waited, and waited, for a good couple of days, the new ‘Pohottuwa’ party had won 239 seats as opposed to 41 by the UNP and 10 by the SLFP.

That’s when some politicians and intellectuals, disappointed at what they termed the ‘unexpected’ victory, began to say that on February 10, the day of the local government elections, Mahinda Rajapaksa lost or would have lost an election.

He hadn’t exactly contested. But that was irrelevant to their calculations. He had contested 3 years ago, at a Presidential Election, and lost. It seemed that the percentage polled at that election should be compared with the percentage polled at this one, and utilized to declare that MR had lost an election.

More specifically, the logic was that had MR in fact contested a Presidential election, or the JO a general election, going by the local government election results of Feb 10th, he would have lost the elections to the combined votes of the UNP, SLFP, and JVP obtained at these local government elections, though they hadn’t got a large enough percentage individually to compare to his. 

The argument seemed to be that they could be added together, since 3 years ago they had contested as a coalition, despite the bitter differences that had emerged in the three years they worked together as the Unity Government, and the public display of that disunity as they attacked each other savagely during the campaign. It assumed that we could all pretend that the rainbow coalition was still as wondrous as when it was first conceived and could come (back) together in a greater cause. This week has proved that was manifestly not the case.

I would venture to say that had former President contested a Presidential election, which he cannot constitutionally, he and his strategists would have run quite a different kind of campaign altogether. They would have focused on the percentage polled, rather than what was needed to win control of local level administrations.

In the upcoming Provincial Council elections, they would doubtless run a campaign that is different to the one they ran this time, focusing on winning control of those institutions, not the percentage polled. 

If they were to run at a general election, they would do it even more differently, ensuring that as many of their members were elected to parliament as possible from as many areas as possible, to have the numbers to form a government or negotiate from strength in forming a coalition government.

At a mother of all polls, a referendum, going by their outreach at the LG polls, they appear eminently capable of strategizing a massive and widespread campaign, utilizing the many grassroots and civil society organizations that they have successfully created, plus social media activism, and the enormous public support they have got as a symbol of new hope and change, and focus on the percentage polled, as they should.

The legitimacy that the senior partner of this government, the UNP, claims, based on the total votes of the rainbow coalition, (even though they didn’t run as a coalition this time nor are they likely to come together anytime soon, given their mutual acrimony), sounds a hollow attempt to belittle the phenomenal success of an upstart party that shocked them into making this leap in logic, if only to explain their abysmal performance despite all that state power bestows on them. It’s easier I guess than making an honest evaluation of their failure, and taking the people’s emphatic verdict seriously enough to attempt it.

One would think that given their supposed certainty that the Pohottuwa phenomenon could be easily defeated by re-forming the rainbow, they would readily agree to the call for general elections by the SLPP. This would give them a chance to prove their assumption. And yet they won’t hear of it.

The few politicians’ and sundry commentators’ assertions that the party that won this one, just lost, and the party that lost had won, just doesn’t make sense to me. To me, it looks like the Pohottuwa backed by MR won the LG elections handsomely, and going by the mood in the country, are likely to sweep all others in the offing.

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Latest comments

  • 15
    10

    Sange,
    There is no doubt. Yes Mahinda lost. He lost in 2015 and he lost in 2018 again. Who is Mahinda? A cheater, mastermind of robbery, destroyer of democracy, master of terror, a cruel dictator. We will wait and see what will happen when all the legal matters regarding large number of allegations against Mahinda completed in the next 3 years.

    • 3
      1

      Ajith, I don’t think Election Commission would listen to your argument in awarding the bonus seats to SLPP or declaring them winner in each of the LG body that SLPP came first. How many of them can you remember? Did you see the colour of the map? Yes I admit yours is a good one up there with Anesley, Berty & Samuel used to dish out………..

      • 0
        0

        This country belongs to HELAYANTA. Now people know the value of the Sinhalese. Sinhalese made mistake January 8, 2015. Majority Sinhalese now realised after the Local Govt. The election, this country belongs to them. No one can stop this idea even Buddhist priests also backing Sinhalese because Sri Lanka belongs to Aryan Sinhalese

    • 5
      1

      Sanja De Silva Jayatilleka

      “I thought what we had was a local government election, specifically for the purpose of deciding which parties assumed control of those local, grassroots, area-based institutions depending on the number members elected.”

      I suggest you have a quiet word with your deranged hubby who believes Dr Mahinda has won the Presidential elections too.

    • 3
      5

      Sanja,

      People who say Mahinda lost this election are the real loosers, you better ask your megalomaniac Ranil to resign rather than writing crap

    • 4
      1

      Ajith – You left out murder and rape! When all the cards are on the table, why should it take so long for the “goopalanaya” to hang the Rajafucksha and clan for their criminal activities.

    • 1
      3

      Ajith
      55% voted against Mahinda and 97% against TNA.
      Soma

      • 1
        0

        somass

        Brilliant.
        Did it take 5 days for you to work it out?
        Finally you have managed to get it right.
        The reason being more than 50% of the Tamil speaking people living outside their traditional homeland! ! ! ! ! !
        Is that what you are insinuating?
        Clever dick aren’t you?

      • 0
        0

        55% sri lankans voted against MR and 97% Sinhalese voted against Tamils

  • 4
    0

    “Did Mahinda Lose A Presidential Election On February 10th”

    Yes! ……aw shucks …….he can never be the president again……………must be a blow, eh?

    Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy! :))

    Paris ……..so near and yet so far…………………

    The time you have to wait expecting the great man’s return …………if you had invested wisely, you could have bought your own slice of Paris without anyone’s’ help………….just think where you guys would be if Dayan has studied investing and not political-science!

    Better luck in the next life. :))

    • 7
      0

      nimal fernando

      “Better luck in the next life. :))”

      If you tell me the place and country he is going to be born, I could avoid that country, town, street, …

    • 0
      0

      This country belongs to HELAYANTA. Now people know the value of the Sinhalese. Sinhalese made mistake January 8, 2015. Majority Sinhalese now realised after the Local Govt. The election, this country belongs to them. No one can stop this idea even Buddhist priests also backing Sinhalese because Sri Lanka belongs to Aryan Sinhalese

    • 0
      0

      Mahinda is not lost January 8th, 2015, Sinhalese lost, now same Sinhalese realised their mistake. Sinhalese will go for Sinhalese Govt. and it is visible after the February 10th Local Govt. Election

  • 9
    0

    A good logical and to a large extent convincing analysis – but utterly devoid of decency and principle. How can someone as smart as Ms. Jayatailleka not see the democratic (and moral) bankruptcy of the Rajapaksa clan and their thuggish hangers-on? I can understand – even if not agree – with someone who appreciates MR’s bringing an end to the war, which brought misery to all Sri Lankans, even to the extent of accepting the thousands of civilians killed illegally and unnecessarily. But surely that victory, and any appreciation one may feel, was not worth the years of murder, disappearances, theft, thuggery, rape and all the many other crimes committed by the family and their hangers-on. And even more surely it’s not worth more years of the same in the future. Surely, even the bitterest opponent of Ranil – a position that make a lot of sense – can’t wish another round of Rajapaksa brutality and criminality and terror on their fellow Sri Lankans. It really doesn’t make sense. From where does the blindness come?

    • 1
      0

      James Chance:
      To simply answer your final question: the blindness comes from total amorality, a gross lack of principle and an absence of anything resembling ethical conduct. The Rajapaksas and their acolytes, prominent among which are the Jayatilleke/de Silva duo, are going to sit in the great pantheon of reprehensible Sri Lankans after their demise.

  • 1
    7

    Well presented a saner analysis. Thank you Sanja de Silva Jayathilake.

  • 3
    0

    Hours are spent on this imbecile logic. Percentages counted because some wanted a deeper look, not the top of the iceberg. That is not a legal proceeding in court to steal Joint Comedies candidates.
    Two parties were ruling. The history of them is, they are opponents. They opposed each other in this election, too. But that is not the aspects the Lankawe base level voters look for in an election. He/she just knows only which is ruling and which is opposing. Voters’ votes get split only on that two dimensions plane only. In that view, no solid geometrical three dimensional comparison of UNP-SLFP-JO is possible. So a proper analysis should be able of travel only on that plane. In this election, the opposition did not get the number of votes, what the parties perceived by voters as ruling partners got. Sinhala Voters’ eyes were seeing UNP-SLFP-TNA as ruling and JO Opposing. That is why we went back to Jan 2015 election to get a comparison, (not Sep, 2015 election) where UNP-TNA and a part of SLFP stood together to win the election.
    Further PR and First Past the post systems work in different ways. If there are four or five ruling parties and they stand independently, then First Past the Post system is very injustice for them. Usually parties either form aliens and stand on the election and rule or Stand on the election and form aliens and rule. But what UNP & SLFP did was while ruling, they split and stood in election as opponents. That is not a strategy. Joint Comedy club needs not to take responsibility for that, because the fault is of ruling parties. The main opposition stood as a single party that is JO. When ruling parties split in election but opposition parties stood together as Joint Opposition, only comparing each individual ruling party, not Opposition parties separately is a false analysis- that is comparing apples and Oranges

  • 0
    0

    So for analysis purpose, percentage based analysis provide fairness for Ruling parties. That is why analysts wanted to go with percentages, not with the elected candidates’ numbers.
    Voters’ behavior in an election is:
    Either
    1). Support the ruling Party or reject the ruling party
    or
    2). Ignore the opposition or try to bring back to the opposition.
    In reality the (1) and the (2) are one single action, but two views of that action.
    So the logic is, “anybody did not try to bring back the opposition” is supporting the ruling coalition. When one is taking about election victory, the first question always is, “if incumbent won or lose”? Here incumbent (parties) won. Once it is decided that Joint Opposition did not win, we leave it aside and do the remaining analysis within the ruling coalition. As we know UNP and SLFP are opposing elements, and there is almost a sure indication that only they are to going to remain in feature politics and Slap Party will be soon abandoned, we are interested in knowing who won between UNP and SLFP. There, if we use the Sep2015 election results of 106: 95 to UNP and SLFP to compare with the Feb 10th elected candidates from UNP and SLFP that is not unfair. Then it is clear SLFP war very close to UNP in Sep 2015, but much behind in Feb, 10th.
    Hopefully Cuban communist has brain matching of 1st graders to understand this.

    The important fact is analysts will analysis the election in all possible ways for them. Always 2nd analyst tries to come out with deeper analysis than the first one. There is no rule where an analyst should stop. We may read more of them in CT in coming days. Thero attacking other analysts, who are not just taking what garbage Thero is trying to stick into their throat, is showing that Thero already has run out of source.

  • 9
    0

    Sanja read the Constitution missy!Not even the President can dissolve the current Parliament and call for General Elections until four and a half years have elapsed.So your call for the Yahapalanaya government to “…readily agree to the call for general elections by the SLPP ” is ridiculous.

    Seems Tution Master Dayan Jayatilleke is not doing his job properly!Surely you will excuse the poor chap.With this greatly exaggerated performance of his God Mahinda Rajapaksa, the man’s eyes must be obscured by Swiss Francs!

    Yes,its been quite a while since the Jayatilleke duo left Geneva after having set the foundation for SRI Lanka’s good name to be dragged through the mud.

  • 5
    0

    sanjay
    stick to foreign policy instead of echoing her masters voice on party politics

  • 2
    0

    The people very smart they made him to win. Polling is a instrument for public opinion.If the UNP won the development is less. Now the people motivated to step into new challenges the vision is beginning of creation to review its current planning codes and experiment with new ideas respond to changing needs and try new approaches to energy production, transportation and services deliveries forethought etc

  • 5
    0

    I am sorry – I don’t get it either – all that the UNP lost was a Local Government Election. How that can be translated into a loss at a General Election can only be explained by Andaya’s logic.

    • 2
      0

      Nihaall Ratnayake

      Sanja De Silva Jayatilleka is trying a Dayan Jayatilleka.
      Don’t bother.

  • 0
    0

    This country leaders aim for Presidency. Even this election result prove that without minority votes, it is not possible to win the presidential election. Mahinda gather his vote base by creating communal discrimination. End of the day he looses presidency election as a result of communal discrimination. These idiots can not understand this reality. So history repeats…

  • 0
    1

    No….. Its not a case of Mahinda loosing or winning.
    Its that WE the people have had enough of Yahapalanaya buffoons.
    People want no more of Yahapalanaya.

  • 0
    0

    Sanja de Silva Jayatillaka asks ~ “Did Mahinda Lose A Presidential Election On February 10th?”
    The answer is “No”. It was an LG election and a new party SLPP had the edge.
    Is MR a member of SLPP? No but the outfit has his ‘approval’.
    Ostensibly Basil financed the campaign and sweated it.
    Sanja: We should worry that the language/religion-divide still works.

  • 1
    0

    what all these writers are missing is that the SLPP has shifted the SLFP voter base. Now there is no way that MR and his thugs can return to SLFP other that accepting the leadership of MS and his directions at future elections. SLPP has only one member that is Basil. (GL is the joker in the pack) Either every one will have to work under BAsil or MS, Next presidentil election will be decisive in endorsing MS and allowing him to run for second term or elese bow down to Basil and observe sil.

  • 1
    0

    roger

    Did Dr Mahinda (LLD + PhD X 3) resign before he started campaigning for SLPP? It is the SLFP which should have reprimanded/sacked the good Doctor for holding membership of two opposing parties at the same time.

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