By Vishnugupta –
“In a society governed passively by free markets and free elections, organized greed always defeats disorganized democracy.” ― Matt Taibbi
When an analysis of a set of statistical data is done, unless one pays very close and scrupulous attention to the details in which the devil usually resides, one often misses the obvious and makes erroneous assumptions that eventually lead to mistaken conclusions and judgments. Drawing conclusions that suit one’s own prejudices and preconceived opinions is natural for the unprofessional, amateur analyst. Amateur historians may even embark further into bizarre analysis-territories by offering utterly erroneous interpretations and spelling out false predictions of events with a view to influencing future occurrences. Setting out his or her own personal agenda is utmost in such undisciplined minds.
A glaring example is the analysis of the recently-concluded PC elections in the Western and Southern provinces, offered by Minister Alahapperuma, the self-acclaimed Campaign Manager cum Analyst-in-Chief cum Chief Ideologue of the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA).
Here is a very elementary presentation of comparable statistics that emerged after the PC elections in the Western and Southern provinces:
Attributing a drop of the voter-base by about 10%-13%, to the waning of the euphoria of the ‘war-victory’ is lame and hardly a sustainable argument. But much to the disenchantment of the Opposition political parties and their leaders, the UPFA’s ability to maintain a voting percentage over and above 57% in all but the Colombo district – Colombo has always been a conventional stronghold of the United National Party (UNP) since the forties of the last century – is remarkable.
The rural voter seems to be untouched and considering the fact that the polling percentage has come down by about 3%-5% in the rural areas, his allegiance to an unprecedentedly corrupt and wasteful regime and its dishonest and crooked Ministers is befuddling to the mind.
At the same time, the urban voter seems to have made up his mind about the regime. In the Colombo district, all urban and semi-urban seats, including the Colombo Municipality, Dehiwela, Kolonnawa, Kotte and Ratmalana have voted the UPFA out in that the party has scored less than 50% whereas, more ruralized electorates such as Avissawella, Kaduwela, Kesbewa, Maharagama and Homagama have voted well above 52% for the UPFA.
With the exception of Colombo and Hambantota, the UNP has maintained its rock-bottom voting block at 25% to 27% in all districts. The explanation for the drop in the UNP vote by 7% in Colombo is the fact that, due to increasing polarization of the electorate, the Tamils who usually voted for the UNP have voted almost en bloc for the Party led by Mano Ganeshan, thereby depriving the UNP of its much assured Tamil minority vote.
In Hambantota, a part of the increase of the UNP vote could be attributed to the suspension of the electioneering activities by General Fonseka in the midst of the campaign and also to the fact that a more coordinated-campaign was run by Sajith Premadasa and his supporters. Despite that coordinated effort, out of the 10% decrease of the UPFA vote in Hambantota, the UNP could get no more that 4% and the Hambantota district as a whole, still voted for the government candidates with more than 57%. The aberrational behavior of the Wayamba voter last year could be solely due to the departure of Dayasiri Jayasekera from the UNP ranks. The long-term effects of Dayasiri’s defection could be detected only after a reasonable period of time has passed.
Whichever way one looks, the proverbial writing on the wall is clear and unambiguous:
1. The UNP voting bloc seems to have settled at a pathetic 25%-27%. It is their fervent hope that this is the ‘bottom’.
2. More than 57% have opted for the incumbency.
3. General Fonseka’s incursion into the UNP seems to be on the decline.
4. The dissatisfied UPFA supporters are flocking around the Democratic Party (DP) and the JVP and not around the UNP.
5. SLMC’s influence outside the Eastern province is marginal and the Muslims are opting for the UNP.
6. Tamils are increasingly polarized and voting for their own candidates whenever they have a choice.
What conclusions can one draw from these observations? Allow me to be bold in this exercise. The most pertinent of issues would be the next Presidential Elections and General Election that usually follows it immediately.
a) It is beyond any shade of doubt that the UNP, in a General Election and as one single political entity, cannot entertain any dream of coming to power on its own.
b) Those who agitated at grassroots level for a change in leadership of the UNP have now settled for either the DP led by General Fonseka or the JVP led by Anura Kumara Dissanayake.
c) The UNP leaders are continuing to be comfortable in a delusionary state of mind that people would make their choices on their own without being coaxed and persuaded by an aggressively and professionally managed propaganda onslaught.
d) The JHU’s influence in the mindset of the UPFA voter is increasing. The fringes are sadly but increasingly becoming the mainstream.
e) The first two preferential vote-getters in the Colombo district come from the fringes. One is a daughter of a notorious politico who was slain on an election eve and the other, an extreme chauvinist who advocates abrogation of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Sri Lanka Constitution while enjoying all the benefits of that Amendment and being a Provincial Councilor. There cannot be a clearer example of a warped mindset of the voter than this reflection. Which is more warped, the elector or the elected, is a million dollar dilemma.
f) Corruption, nepotism and pseudo-patriotism are not only condoned by the majority of voters, they are being grasped by those who have got elected from the UPFA ticket.
g) Offspring galore! The electorate is more than ready and willing to vote for big names’ offspring. Jeevan Kumaratunga’s daughter, Yapa Abeywardena’s son, late Bharatha Lakshman’s daughter, Kumar Welgama’s son are but a handful of examples.
Everything that could go against the Government was in place except the main Opposition party – the UNP. Despite the evident pressures building up against the regime and in the face of money spent on a one-sided election campaign with the Commissioner General of Elections left helpless and impotent with regard to the brandishing of raw government power via the state-controlled media machinery, the United National Party, its National Leader and the Leadership Council looked more like the ‘walking dead’ than a vibrant political outfit. Indeed, maybe for the first time in his life, even General Fonseka took some retreating steps in Hambantota when faced with deliberate intimidation and sabotage by the corrupt agents of the regime.
If one were to project the results of the just-concluded PC elections to the next General Elections, it would once again be a landslide for the governing coalition, especially if the Opposition remains ‘ununited’ and in disarray as it is today. No clobbering seems to awaken the Grand Old Party of Sri Lanka from its twenty-year slumber.
But take a minute and peruse the following statistics too:
- In 1977, the UNP won five sixths of parliamentary seats
- Yet it received only between 50% and 51% of the total polled
- In 1977, the rest of the Opposition which comprised the coalition partners of the present-day UPFA received only a total of 37%
- At the recent PC elections in 2014, in the Western and Southern provinces, the Government got a combined net of 55.5%
- And in 2014, the combined Opposition, UNP, DP, JVP and SLMC, obtained a combined net of 43%
I would try to interpret these stats in a later piece. In the meantime, dear reader, you too do some homework yourself and arrive at your own conclusions. A scenario in which the susceptibility of the Rajapaksa monolith is evident is likely to emerge.
*The writer can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org