16 August, 2022


Learn From Basil: Three Myths About Voter Choices 

By Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

Literate political commentators are proffering at least three misleading ideas. 

The first is that a vote for an emergent Opposition current will enhance the chances that this current will prop up the Gotabaya regime in securing a two-thirds majority. 

The second is that a vote for any of the Opposition parties will be equally useful and valuable in stopping the totalitarian march of the regime. 

The third is that the top priority of non-regime voters should be to vote in such a manner that a caucus of about a dozen MPs from the left-liberal front are elected.   

For someone whose training is in political science and experience is in international politics, these arguments are dangerously absurd.

Let’s take the first point. As between Sajith and his SJB on the one hand and Ranil (or whoever succeeds him as leader) and the UNP on the other, who is more likely to prop up the government? The young leader of a larger, rising formation, who ran against GR for the presidency once and is certain to do so again in 2024 and would therefore not wish to blot his copybook among the voters by colluding with the regime, OR the old guy who leads a much smaller formation, who has no chance or intention of running for President, and whose only chance in political life is to get some space in government for the next five years? 

C’mon, be serious. In whose interest would it be to prop up the government and be accommodated by it in return? Ranil’s or Sajith’s? The UNP’s or the SJB’s? 

The second myth is that any vote for any Opposition party is equal to any other vote for any other opposition party.  That and the third myth—that the priority should be to send a dozen JVPers to parliament—can be considered together.

The regime is far more lucid about what may constitute the biggest threat and what would not, than the left-liberal commentators who are critical of the regime.

On August 2nd, TV viewers heard the regime’s strategist and organizational mind, Basil Rajapaksa expressing his hope that the JVP has a sizeable representation in parliament.  

Surely the seemingly ‘savage’ critics of the regime should wonder why their views coincide with those of Basil Rajapaksa? Why would BR not consider all opposition votes and future parliamentarians in the same light? Why should he not be agnostic or neutral as concerns the different streams of the opposition? Why would he prefer a noticeable JVP presence in the new Parliament?

That is because he is a realist who thinks strategically, unlike the regime’s left-liberal critics. 

What does the regime really want? What is the real aim and goal of its relentless drive for a two-thirds majority? It is to turn Sri Lanka’s political system into a unipolar order. Put differently, unipolarity is the overriding goal.

What is the precondition for unipolarity? It is that there is no peer competitor, one who comes even close or can potentially become one. Strategists of unipolarity do not wish to see any competitor who is capable of bringing balance into the political equation.

The unipolar project does not mind a Third Force as opponent. What it does not want is a Second Force. The JVP/NPP is not a second force; it is a third force.

Basil Rajapaksa does not mind critics; what he does not want is a competitor, actual or potential—a competitor, or a force that can grow into a competitor for governmental power by the next national election. Even if he does mind critics, he doesn’t mind them as much as he does a potentially viable competitor.

The JVP/NPP is a critic, not a competitor.

Who then might Basil Rajapaksa consider as a competitor, actual or potential? Well he said that the UNP is fighting for third place but may wind up fourth. Therefore, logically, he does not regard the UNP as a potential competitor and balancer.

He would like the JVP/NPP in parliament but unless he is a political masochist, he would not say that about any that could function as a block to unipolarity and a competitor for governmental power.

He expects the TNA to get three electoral districts but the TNA can hardly ever grow, for obvious demographic reasons, into a national competitor for state power.

He says that whoever comes second will not get half of what the SLPP secures. That remains to be seen, but who is he referring to?   

From his relegation of the UNP to third or fourth place, that clearly leaves only the SJB of Sajith Premadasa.

There you have it! If that’s what Basil Rajapaksa who seeks a two-thirds majority, thinks about rivals and competitors, then that’s what voters who do not want a two-thirds majority and a unipolar political system; voters who want the opposite of what he wants and seeks, should choose.

That’s why, contrary to the laissez-faire or lazily leftish politics of the left-liberal commentariat, a vote for anything but Sajith’s SJB will be a diversion from the imperative need for countervailing, balancing-off and competing with the regime. Such irresponsibility and indiscipline will only help the hegemonistic, unipolar and oligarchic project.

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Latest comments

  • 3

    Dear Dayan

    You are saying why we need to goodbye the ghetto parties even before the election results….sounds progressive to me.

    • 3

      They are nearly all ghetto parties.

  • 11

    Vote SJB for a peaceful, non-racist and a harmonious SL.

    Sajith won the north, east, west, south and the centre (at least one electorate). Rajapaksas failed. So only SJB can unify divided SL.

    SLPP is simply a racist party that is made up of the same corrupt outdated racists who ruined SL after the war.

    For 4 years they will rob state coffers to the maximum and when the next presidential election comes in 2024 they will arouse anti-Tamil and anti-Muslim racism. There will be riots and military showmanship. By then people would be poorer than now in real purchasing power terms. So it will be easier to fool them with racism. This is the Rajapaksa doctrine.

    Voting for SJB can make real change. It is a mathematical certainty. A vote for the UNP or even the JVP and other fringe parties is a vote wasted.

  • 4

    For someone whose training is in political science and experience is in international politics, these arguments are dangerously absurd.

    How many someones are whose training is in political science and experience is in international politics,
    are present presently in parliment.and competent involvement in international affair it is common observation nowadays that the country in all its branches has been losing power to global forcess.

  • 3

    DJ is a good debater, and thus selects information that sreves his purpose.
    But it is his purpose that one often has doubts about.

  • 7

    I believe that voters must not think about party loyalty but choose untarnished young people with records of good community service and standing. They should reject outright, scumbags who have been in parliament for donkeys years and helped ruin what is now left of Sri Lanka. Some consideration should also be given to not support nepotistic family dreams of permanent rule by decree and military force. Independence from oppression is an important priority.

    • 4

      But the voters have been pushed into racist corners. Sinhalese are the boogeyman for Tamils and Tamils are the boogeyman for Sinhalese. How did this happen? All ghetto parties (TNA, SLMC, ACMC and SLPP) are responsible for this.

      The real danger is Rajapaksas changing the constitution and establishing themselves through a business-military empire like Modi, Abe and Putin have done in India, Japan and Russia. I’m 99% sure that is what Rajapaksas are after. Now moderate parties cannot dislodge those parties in those countries.

  • 0

    A good analysis. A critical JVP is no serious threat to a totalitarian government and can be brushed aside especially if you have a pliant media like in Sri Lanka. But a strong SJB of Sajith can be a real threat as a competitor for power as an alternative force hanging on your heels. Of course Ranil is a spent force but quite likely to play ball with SLPP so that his and Ravi’s sins in the Bond Scam will be pushed aside.

  • 1

    “ who ran against GR for the presidency once and is certain to do so again in 2024 and would therefore not wish to blot his copybook among the voters by colluding with the regime “
    Thero is campaigning against a sure dictatorship being formed after election. He knows Vaalaiththodam is going to prison after election unless Ranil use his influence to stop it. Then Thero is confirming that Vaalaiththodam is standing for next election according to Sumanadasa’s Political science chart? Watch our Law and Order Minister Ponny; how humbled to get a minister post from King, under the mastership of Ranil.
    “OR the old guy who leads a much smaller formation, who has no chance or intention of running for President,” Thero didn’t forget that Ranil even tried to stop Vaalaiththodam running for EP for fulfill certain projects Ranil and King have. Ranil’s dream is permanently stopping West involving in Lankawe politics. That involves solving Lankawe’s problem in a highly locking way Tamils into Sinhala Buddhists’ Slavery. That may keep China too out of Lankawe. Thero knows even that well. But Thero worried about China and his bosses’ loosing commissions. But whatever it is, Thero is dead against in any way Tamils’ problem are being sold by the idea Ranil has “ That is why this ultra-racist & Royals’ dedicated house boy is, convulsing.

  • 1

    ”The second myth is that any vote for any Opposition party is equal to any other vote for any other opposition party. “ So Thero is saying voting for Hakeem and Rishard is stronger tha Prof. Kumar going to parliament. All predicts SJB’s difference from Royals is the ice pellets and rain water falls at the same time. Then pellets join the water in few seconds as real water. Truth is Old King knows the papers of Dulanjalee bank deal will be in his palace somewhere. Like Champika’s driver, it is time for bank clerk to reveal who gave him the counterfeit currencies. As we said earlier, if Ranil is not stepping in, after the election, Vaalaiththodam is going in. Whether Thero like it or not Prof. Kumar going in. We can come back to after election too.

    Thero can argue for hours, but Younger Brother Prince remembers how they striped JVP and UNP for bones to get the needed 2/3 in 2006. He knows how to do that with SLMC, ACMC, Mano & SJB again. He is reading Thero’s fraud analysis. He doesn’t see because Prof. Kumar in that, JVP has become a big monster than SJB. It is only Thero schizophrenia. He saw Prof .Kumar yesterday in JVP; today he is behaving sheer nasty. TNA, highly possible situation is, will sit in opposition and will vote only for government.

  • 1

    Vaalaiththodam Jr is back in UNP. Navin has said it is OK if he return. Thero is a fruitless talker.

  • 1

    I note that of late, DJ seems to be writing sensible stuff. This suggests that he has always been capable of doing so, but his self-seeking agendas precluded him form doing so. In this essay, I feel that he is spot on in interpreting Basil Hora’s proclamations.

    Having said that, I see no real depth or gravitas in Premadasa; nor indeed serious political acumen.

    However, we cannot do better than place hope in the only available serious alternative to Rajapakse monarchy for life, so I would agree with DJ here.

    The JVP/NPP though, has the best brains and the least corruption in its ranks, and despite its brutal history (which it really should do much more to come clean on, seek forgiveness and dispel), deserves to have more than just a whimper in the new parliament.

    Such a segmented opposition has a better chance of preventing the serious madness that might otherwise be ahead of us.

    This is my best hope in an otherwise seemingly hopeless situation.

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