By Kumar David –
In other parts of the world where preference or tactical voting is available parties strategize how to use it and voters employ it with enthusiasm. It is a measure of the maturity and intelligence of an electorate that people know to game the system to reach the best outcome. But no sir, not here! Imagine a scenario like this. Party C will do well but knows it cannot win. Furthermore, it is of the opinion that candidate A is a potential dictator while B is a class rival not a fascist. Stupidly C then says to its speakers and canvassing teams “Don’t say a word about giving second preference to less-worse candidate B because people will then think we are not going to sweep to victory!” Does anyone hallucinate that by refraining from mention of tactical voting one’s vote bank will swell to the millions? Would C rather wallow in delusions than do its mite to shore up the vote against A who, in its own estimate, is a peril to democracy? Stupid!
This absence of tactical voting intelligence and treating the public like morons is not a state of mind invented by me. I come across it right here in the runup to the presidential election. Thirty three of the 35 candidates should not hallucinate that they will poll six million votes to clinch the presidency? Do they envisage that by not mentioning second preferences they will be charmed into first or second place? Phew! Where do these people park their brains?
I have not seen such political naivety in other parts of the world. Tactical voting is openly discussed and the benefits of different approaches frankly compared. However, gross inanities I sometimes hear from our own People’s Power comrades. Of course if we are not in Gota’s or Sajith’s bandwagon, we are not going win the presidency. We know that, everyone knows that, and we are planning for a future beyond that. But we can make no progress towards that future if we start fooling ourselves and our cadres.
People have asked me to explain what happens if no candidate gets over 50% on first count. Apologies to Colombo Telegraph’s clued up readers but let me answer. Say 100% is 100 votes and candidate A polls 46, candidate B 44 and all the others put together the ‘remaining-10’ votes. No one has over 50% so the elections people will proceed to count second preferences of all candidates except A and B.
Now consider two extremes:
1. None of the ‘remaining-10’ voters cast a second preference. In that case of the 90 (46+44) new total (the new 100%), candidate A wins because he/she has polled 46 which over 50% of this new total of 90.
2. Say just 3 voters of the ‘remaining-10’ cast a second preference for B and no other second preferences are cast. Now of the 93 (47+46) gross, B with 47 has secured more than 50% of the new 100% (93) and is the winner.
An important point to remember is that a second preference should be given only to one of the two main candidates; second preference indication to all others will never get counted. Sorry if this is all a-b-c to you but trust me, people have asked me to explain the mechanics of the preference voting system since details differ from country to country.
You will appreciate why I am labouring this if you agree that it is unlikely Sajith or Gota will get over 50% first preferences. The only other significant candidate is Anura who will poll substantially. This means that the second preferences of Anura’s voters is crucial. If some of them are brainless sectarians and abstain from making a second preference, they may allow Gota to creep in – which is just what they DON’T want. To get everyone to understand the importance of Anura’s voters casting a second preference for Sajith (yes, hold your nose and do it) is not that easy. But there’s time to win over the naysayers.
A slightly less old than I Samasamajist has grumbled that by calling for ‘First for Anura; second for Sajith’ I am undermining the collaboration of the Left with Democrats. Nonsense! And the queer thing is that this chap’s own party has put forward a candidate! What is he telling people; to give first choice to Sajith and second choice to his own candidate? Seems droll!
If Gota or Sajith poll over 50% on first preferences, that’s it, matter closed. Otherwise a second is as good as a first; they all count the same. Hence absolutely nothing is lost in the commitment to defeat Gota, and everything is gained (building the future) by the ‘One for Anura, two for Sajith’ tactic.