By Tisaranee Gunasekara –
“We must remember they got their majority vote from Eelam…” Mahinda Rajapaksa[i]
During election season, the UPFA tried to win enough Sinhala votes by inciting minority phobia – and failed. Post-defeat, what the severely-truncated UPFA continues to beat this racist tom-tom, in the hope of making a quick comeback.
Ex-president Mahinda Rajapaksa led the way by informing supporters in Medamulana that he was defeated because Northern, Eastern and Plantation voters voted against him. That is the truth, but not the whole truth. Mahinda Rajapaksa lost not just because he failed to gain the support of minority communities. Mahinda Rajapaksa lost also because he failed to retain the support of the majority community.
Eric Hobsbwam warned that “bad history is not harmless history”[ii]. Mr. Rajapaksa and his hardcore supporters are deliberately trying to fabricate a bad history about the 2015 election. Theirs is a dangerous exercise because their aim is to regain political relevance by creating an unbridgeable divide between majority and minority communities. They want to create a wave of fear and hatred and ride it back to power.
Mahinda Rajapaksa did not have the support of North, East or Plantations, even in 2010 or 2005. Yet he was able to win; he won in 2005 thanks to the Tiger-imposed boycott; he won in 2010 because most Sinhalese voted for him in appreciation for winning the war.
Mahinda Rajapaksa lost in 2015 not just because he lost the minority vote. Mahinda Rajapaksa lost in 2015 also because a large chunk of Sinhala voters who supported him in 2010 voted for the Opposition in 2015; and because an absolute majority of first-time voters voted against him.
The voter-shift from Mahinda Rajapaksa to the Opposition happened all over Sri Lanka, including in every single district outside of North and East. Without that massive shift, Maithripala Sirisena could not have won, even with minority support.
In voting out Mahinda Rajapaksa and voting in Maithripala Sirisena, the really existing ethno-religiously pluralist Sri Lanka asserted itself over the imaginary ethno-religiously monolithic Sri Lanka. The defeat of Mahinda Rajapaksa was not a Sinhala, Tamil or Muslim enterprise, but a Lankan enterprise. Hopefully it will serve as a reminder to all political leaders that race-baiting is not only opprobrious but also counterproductive.
2005, 2010 and 2015
In all districts outside of North and East, Mahinda Rajapaksa’s average vote declined between 2015 and 2010 – indicating a substantial-erosion in his voter base.
Mahinda Rajapaksa suffered a far greater setback in postal votes. Postal voters are police and military personnel and government employees engaged in election duties and essential services. Though exact figures are not available, the absolute majority of postal voters are Sinhalese.
In 2005 and 2010, Mahinda Rajapaksa won the postal votes by huge margins. In 2015 he was defeated in postal votes as well. This is an even clearer indication of the erosion of his support among the majority community.
As the statistics clearly prove, between 2010 and 2015 Mahinda Rajapaksa’s voter support eroded across the length and breadth of Sri Lanka, including in his own Hambantota. The loss of Rajapaksa electoral-magic was not just a North-East-Plantation phenomenon, as the former President claims. It was truly a Lankan phenomenon.
The votes lost by Mahinda Rajapaksa in the districts outside of North and East were gained by the Opposition, as the massive increase in the Opposition’s total and postal votes, between 2010 and 2015, clearly demonstrates.
An even clearer picture of the erosion of the Rajapaksa support-base emerges when Mahinda Rajapaksa’s performance in 2015 is compared with his performance in 2005.
In contrast, the Opposition performed better in 2015 than it did in 2005 in most of the districts outside of North and East. These included all districts of the Southern province, with massive leaps forward in Matara and Galle.
Mahinda Rajapaksa’s losses, not just between 2010 and 2015 but also between 2005 and 2015, were Maithripala Sirisena’s gain. Without those losses, the Opposition would have failed and the Rajapaksas would have prevailed.
Mahinda Rajapaksa was defeated in 2015 because he failed to gain minority support and because he failed to make up for that loss by retaining enough of the Sinhala votes he won in 2010 or even in 2005.
Mr. Rajapaksa’s dangerously faulty election analysis is an inevitable by-product of his retrogressive and reactionary worldview: Sinhala-Buddhists are the sole owners of Sri Lanka; minorities are not co-owners but mere guests. In his eyes he was defeated by ‘minority-guests’ and not by ‘Sinhala-hosts’. Therefore, in his eyes, his defeat is an illegitimate one. This racist interpretation indicates why Mr. Rajapaksa did not work towards reconciliation and a consensual peace post-war and why he allowed BBS et al to terrorise Muslims and Christians. Rajapaksa-security depended on the majority fearing minorities and minorities fearing the majority.
Divide and rule was indeed the Rajapaksa way. That is why their loss is the country’s gain.
[ii] Identity History is not enough – On History
aratai / January 15, 2015
Did people voted to elect My3 or voted against MaRa?
Are the elections held to elect the winner or loser?
Sri Lankan / January 15, 2015
A vote can also be a ‘Protest vote’. In this case majority of the sinhalese together with almost all members minority voted MR out based on either a Protest vote or a new Hope on MS’s policies published. As such, Some people badly wanted MR to lose, Some would have wanted MS to win. There would’ve been some who wanted both the above to happen. As TS mentioned above, “Hopefully it will serve as a reminder to all political leaders that race-baiting is not only opprobrious but also counterproductive.” Subsequent events prove that MR has no respect for basic principles such as loosing a contest which he him self called. How can anyone vote for this dangerous fool as a leader of an elley team ? I sure wouldn’t. In fact Mangala S’s CID complaint should be investigated and another lesson be served as a reminder to all political leaders that it is one thing to steal wealth from the poor citizenry, but its a dark crime to steal all their democtratic right which should be punished with the exteam lenght of law.
The Messenger / January 15, 2015
Free speech is a human value and not a provocative tool. Insulting other races and their religious beliefs including hate speeches cannot be justified as free speech. Politicians and religious leaders should not take advantage of the democratic freedom of speech to arouse the masses on racial/religious line and instigate communal and religious hatred.
Maithree Government has many urgent things to do and one of them is to bring strict laws against hate speech and prosecute those who spread communal/religious hatred by creating havoc among different communities in the country.
Another most important task is to change the present Anti-minority racist/communal culture and politics in Sri Lanka and make it a true muti-cultural united secular Sri Lankan society where the minorities are treated as equal citizens of the country and not as aliens.
Samuel Jayaweera / January 15, 2015
All what the majority of the island nation wanted to put a stop to highly abusive politics being carried out by Mahinda Rajaapakshe and his cronnies.
Many in the society had no guts to come forward and demonstrate publicly though they had to struggle it that long innerly. Their only chance was to reject the most virulent ruler by using universal franchise. Now it proved – the unique force behind the “universal franchise”. There, Rajapakshes or anyone failed to see the difference going through race, religion or the life as they have always been doing while interpreting the election results. Many among them started to brand it as a election victory being made by minority folks- or rather not by sinahelse majority – these words being loudly uttered by POLITICAL TEENAGERS like Gammanpila and the bunch repeatedly, not forgetting the one who would not even respect Maithreepala Sirisena for his candidacy – none other than the unshamed mouth piece of UPFA- Wimal weerawansa will go on saying that TNA and muslims rejected MR while the rest of folks still stay supprotive to him:
Javi. / January 16, 2015
`Are elections held to elect w/l””
domino effect madu, motal porriki pakku tippi tu.
except in so far as it is compelled by third force-
– `fire in the wind` grounded the halt so we grin.
(gulliver in the land of little folk –
you were the one who – 2ft pipe ;)
Dodo / January 15, 2015
Brilliant as usual Thisaranee dear!
Thanks you for pointing out the racism that is part of the Sinhala Modaya’s (sorry to say) psyche that comes out in the speech of Mahinda Jarapassa and Pathala Champika Ranawaka.
On elections night when we all know that it was the MINORITIES who Saved Sri lanka and the Sinhalas from THEMSELVES, Pathala Champika said on TV that that the minorities only contributed 12 percent of the vote to Maithripala Sirisena – a blatent lie.
It is hence very disturbing that this RACIST LIAR who promotes HATE SPEECH, Pathala Champika is in the Cabinet. Pathala Champika who also does now know basic Arithmetic and can NOT count is Minoster of Power Energy and Research!
How can someone who tell such blatant lies be Minister in charge of RESEARCH which is about finding the truth?!
The Messenger / January 15, 2015
It is true that Pa….. Cha….. Ranawaka is a blatant liar and also a racist but you cannot call him an uneducated. He may not be good at politics but he was a bright Engineer from the University of Moratuwa.
Pen Kiyanna / January 15, 2015
This is one hell of an analysis by…. the lady!
The fact that MR’s support base in majority areas has gone down does not negate his argument the winning majority to maaru Sira came from the Muslims and the Tamils.
The Galle District in Southern province is the besst example. The Muslims have taken possession of the Galle town and that was the only district MR lost. Same with Beruwala, Kalutara area. Maaru Siralost in Matugama, Agalawatte and everywhere else.
This [Edited out] is trying to paint black in white.
No one can deny it. The election result was delivered by the majority of minorities and the Majority of the majority did not get the President of their choice.
A perversion of democracy, take it in to your thick skull, Titsaranee.
shankar / January 15, 2015
“A perversion of democracy, take it in to your thick skull, Titsaranee.”
So your concept of ‘democracy’ is that 3 out of 10 citizens votes are not not as worth as the other 7 who are bhuddhist.So what shall we give its worth in future? 1 bhuddhist vote equal to 2 hindu votes and one bhuddhist vote equal to 3 muslim votes and one bhuddhist vote is equivalent to 1.5 christian/catholic votes.What with the computers nowadays and giving a crash course to the elections personnel in computers we can do it and get a less perverted result.
We can even refine it further among the bhuddhist as the “aapu minissu”in the low country who converted o bhuddhism now outnumber the upcountry sinhalese who did not think that they would breed like rabbits when they imported them from south india to do the menial and difficult tasks for them.so 1 upcountry sinhala vote=1.5 low country.
There is another idea to make it more simple and less perverted democracy.Give 30% of the country to non bhuddhists and tell them to live there and have their own country.Over a period of 10 years slowly the transition and movement of people peacefully can take place.Then in the remaining 70% of the country you can do whatever you want,rape,pillage kill,etc etc and have fun.If the upcountry sinhalese don’t enjoy the fun then they can forget about the 1up country=1.5 low country vote system and just give land to the low country sinhalese in proportion to their numbers for their own country to rape,murder kill etc including foreign tourists who come to their beautiful beaches.
alls well that ends well.Win win situation for all. Minorities and christians/catholics are happy that they can go about their business and upcountry sinhalese are happy just like lions lazing away the whole day until they get hungry,low country sinhalese are happy that there is no boredom with never a dull moment in their fun filled lives,not bothering anyone except themselves.
or Pen Kiyanna should we continue with this perverted democracy and just keep on going like this hoping that the future generations at least start viewing themselves as srilankans only.
Pena Kiyanna / January 15, 2015
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K. C. John / January 15, 2015
Palayang Yako / January 16, 2015
“Another day, another dollar(?)” And another alias for an expatriate with a mouth like a sewer who’ll soon have to return to Sri Lanka!
Incidentally, while you keep using filthy sexual terms on Sri Lanka’s bravest and most skilled journalist, you better watch out about talking about the “tipless” because you might lose even more of your anatomy when the Aussies kick you out and you have to return to SL!
jmmy / January 17, 2015
Dear Pen Kiyanna
First and foremost MR did not care about the minority votes as he was sure that the majority Sinhalese Buddhist will vote for him. He was so confident that he held the election 2 years earlier. But as some have mentioned for every 1 minority vote one or more vote of the Majority was received by MS.
The minorities did not vote for a Tamil or a Muslim but they voted for a Sinhalese Buddhist so basically you did not get the President of your choice but you still have a President who is from the majority community.
“No one can deny it. The election result was delivered by the majority of minorities and the Majority of the majority did not get the President of their choice.”
The election result was that a Majority of Sri Lankans living in this multi-ethnic,pluralistic society used their franchise to choose a new president in the hope and trust for a better future for all.
Newton / January 15, 2015
Minority votes did him a great favor that is safe departure from the position.Otherwise the way he lost the support from Sinhala people shows that he would have ended up with a worse situation than his friend Gadaffi in two years time if he was elected to the office.
S.Modaya / January 15, 2015
Madam, while it was the minorities that carried the day OVERWHELMINGLY on January 8, 2015 – by giving MY3 massive leads in the northeast, it was the JVP that won the election for MY3 in the South. Let us NOT forget this.
JVP did the quiet and serious work of VOTER EDUCATION on GOOD GOVERNANCE and Anura Kumara educated the Sinhala Modayas who had been Divided, DISTRACTED and RULED by the Corrupt Rajapaksa cabal with the help of Ranil Wickramasinghe and a useless UNP opposition.
The credit for the Sinhala voted against Mahinda Jarapassa goes to the JVP and not Ranil or the UNP which was busy with Colombo based manipulation of the corrupt politicians. These corrupt politicians are still hanging on and crossing over.. This crossing over culture of corruption must be ended and the new constitutional amendment must end the reign of corruption by politicians – one and all.
As the JVP said our work to hold the corrupt politicians of the UNP and SLFP ACCOUNTABLE has just begun.
Aaks / January 15, 2015
I m Tamil and I can see a common discussion trend among my Sinhala friends on Facebook – “We have lost the government elected by the majority of the majority community to the minority communities”.
What it really mean is that minority communities should not have voting rights in Sri Lanka.
And those who say this are the most educated – at least according to the degrees they hold.
GoatGota / January 15, 2015
First and foremost you should un-friend those racists. However don’t forget majority of the Sinhalese voted against the said racism. I believe almost everyone who voted for MS was against the racist policies of MR and company. In addition, of those who voted for MR there were plenty who did not agree with his racist agenda. They just did so because they fell for the fear mongering propaganda and the lies peddled using mass media and public resources. The facebook heros you see are the same who start barking when the assfaced Gnanasara speaks. It is now proven Sri Lankans, especially the sinhalese aren’t the racists Gnanasara and MR would have liked us believe. Ofcourse there are racists in every ethnic group but we will not let the fringe take over and ruin the country for another 30years. That was a clear message from this election results. Ignore the keyboard heros. They will be the first to run and hide when you hear ‘koti enawo’.
daya.thevi / January 15, 2015
Why the election 2015 held? Ask MR! Only he knows. Believing the mega image he created of himself he probably wanted to project it to the Global community that was seeking the truth through UN mechanisms. oops! It backfired.
As far as the citizenery is concerned:
Sinhalese — “Win is an illusion” — Frustration
Muslims —- ” No more” — Protest
Tamils —- ” Yes! We can” — Hope
ramona therese fernando / January 15, 2015
Yes,……….Rajapaksa was not too savvy with how to deal with the non-Bumiputhras who are doing aggressively better than the Appey-Rata stock. He should have come to America and done a course in “subtly and sneakly dealing with race differences.”
Ps. I wonder how much of those voting percentages outside of N&E, wereTamil and Muslim votes. And how many in the N&E are Sinhalese (there are a large no. of military personnel in the N&E). Also, a lot of the postal votes were from expatriates.
Native Vedda / January 15, 2015
My people are known as Veddahs, not Bumiputhras.
ramona therese fernando / January 16, 2015
No! Bumiputhras are the Sinhalese! Veddahs are the indigenous people. Depends on who developed the land beyond stoneage and built infrastructure.
lawry / January 15, 2015
Can some smart person make an assessment in percentage the votes Rajapaksha got because he used state media,state resources, bribes with motorbikes, washing machines, under the table deals, Tissa Attanayake buyoff, .lies on state TV,Duplicte Sirisena with jacket and all,promise of 50 thousand houses replacing line rooms for estateestate workers? Only such an estimate will give a true picture.If we do not consider this aspect we can consider our Sinhalese majority as gullible to the core.
K.A Sumanasekera / January 15, 2015
75 % of the Sinhala inhabitant population voted against the UNP, TNA,SLMC and the Diaspora.
And that is the crucial factor going forward…
Navin / January 15, 2015
Aney Sumane, what for the telling….
Native Vedda / January 15, 2015
“75 % of the Sinhala inhabitant population voted against the UNP, TNA,SLMC and the Diaspora.”
If you do not like the election results you can always disenfranchise Tamils, Muslims, other minorities, TNA, SLMC, UNP, ………… and have an exclusive Sinhala/Buddhist elections in the Sinhala/Buddhist ghetto.
Let us have a Citizenship Act 2015.
How did the diaspora vote in the last elections?
shankar / January 15, 2015
An excellent analysis which reveals the true picture of the defeat.
If anyone hopes to lead this country on sinhala bhuddhist votes only,then they have to govern the country exceptionally well.We all know that mahinda governed the country poorly and paid the price.He did not seem to understand or did not want to understand governance issues.
With a potential vote base of 70%,you can lead this country on sinhala bhuddhist votes only but nearly 5 out of 7 bhuddhists should have the confidence that you are governing the country well and will do so in the future too.It is a risky strategy if you want to be the national leader because you have to be a top class administrator with flawless strategic planning skills too to get the votes of 5 out of seven people.A less risky strategy would be to just consider everyone as srilankan only and work for their welfare then you will have to attract the votes of 5 out of ten.Anyway ethnic based politics is not a good thing in the long term for this country and the tamil and muslim leaders should also ditch it one day.However for them to do that the bhuddhist leaders should first set the example for others to follow.
crazyoldmansl / January 15, 2015
Yes you MUST remember that he got his majority vote fro THAMILEELAM and all the MINORITIES. You must not forget the he UNITED the country that you divided.
The Minorities voted for him because they saw that he was a BUDDHIST and not a violent criminal like you.
maali karunaratne / January 15, 2015
Even with the statistics that Tissaranee had given, CT commentators are denying the truth. What Champika says is true. It was the Sinhala votes that brought Sirisena. Tamils and Muslims supported but still they are in the minority. Tamils and Muslims did not bring his 51 % of the votes. How did he get so much of votes in the South. In some electorates MR won with a comfortable majority and in this case they are not Tamils and Muslims. I do not think 5 % of the Muslims voted for MR after his partnership with BBS which culminated in Alutgama.
sama / January 15, 2015
This proves higher Literacy rates bring noting if the folks have been kept away from the facts and figures for many years.
Aku / January 15, 2015
What’s this Citizens??? This Lady, Thisaranee is correct really… But the main point here is that, We Sri Lankans got our Country back… It was really an election between the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’…
And yes, the ‘good’ won and is now time to show the ‘bad’ what the rule of Law means and to also recover ‘stolen’ property, and so much more…
Mr Sirisena is the only Man who had the balls to stand up against the devil and win… win for us Lankans…
GoatGota / January 15, 2015
I think you mean the GOOD the BAD and the UGLY (the assface Gnanasara)
ann / January 15, 2015
Mahinda rajapakshe lost because the dormant voters came out this time. The higher turnout just meant that the UNP had managed to get the sleeping vote active. Previous times a larger percentage (10% possibly) of the voters did not care to vote because they did not have a cause. This time that block was forced out of the slumber just to oust Mahinda. Had the election been held one month later Mahinda would have won.
K. C. John / January 15, 2015
Excellent analysis and commentary TG.
punchinilame / January 15, 2015
A pains-taking analysis by TG. You appear have lost the UNP embeded voters who fully supported the SLFP as CC, after patching up their in-
Further it has been said that over-confidence of MR put him into
trouble, similar to two occassions when similar loss happened in India
too, in the past history of going in for election before the expiry of the given Term.
Whilst canvassing in enmey terriroty, self-confessing as THE KNOWN DEVIL
pleading for Votes is egoistic over-confidence I guess?
sinhala_voice / January 15, 2015
When Tamils vote for the people directed by TNA this is NOT racism.
When Muslims vote for SLMC this is not racism.
When Indian Tamils vote for CWC this is not racism
When Tamils vote for TNA, EPDP, TULF, ITAK this is NOT racism…
If a Sinhala person talks about Sinhala opinion or Buddhism this is RACISM.
So what is RACISM…..????
Hmmm I can see bright future for Sinhala-Buddhist in Sri Lanka
imad / January 15, 2015
TG, as usual, is exemplary. A very incisive study of the pattern of vote. In my humble view however, it depends on from what perspective you look at the results. While a constituency based statistical analysis over the three presiden. al elections may attest to the relevance of TG’s observations, at another level, it is suggested -though validly in my assessment – that it is the ‘royal’ family and extremist groups such as BBS, which paved the way for MR’s defeat. The Indian media in particular also attributed the outcome to anti-incumbency factor. Whatever it is, the truth remains that MR was defeated, with votes of all communities country-wide. For this reason, as some of the Indian and foreign media rushed to say, terming the vote of the minorities, especially in the North and East, as “protest vote” en bloc against MR also lacks basis. Having talked to people in parts of East before the election, I can testify that many of them had Indicated that they were voting for Maithripala Srisena for what he is: a simple man, with a clear roadmap, gifted with an excellent persuasive skill as to the future of the country. So, it appears to me that while there is considerable merit in some, most of the analyses are over simplistic. Thank you, TG, for encouraging me to ponder over the results of the election, with the piece you have written.
race to racism / January 15, 2015
Racism. Is not what most of us want. It is created through poverty. If the rich lives in lavish and if the poor is suffering to make their ends meet. This will start with jealousy.
Jealousy works most of the time through racism.
I am from the minority and my votes are never been used on behalf of our cast nor religion, and it was used for the majority class.
The low income masses who are not given proper education are easy to create this racist mind set.
This is not their fault. It is due to our free education system, which all govts. are responsible.
I was educated in a buddhist school and all my friends to date are buddhist, tamils, catholics. We all lived in peace till MaRa took over. It was a real sad situation that all our minorities faced at work, schools, hospitals, and even in the ports etc.
My sinhala friends whom most of them served in the military were not happy the way MaRa was humming about the minorities. Like my friends, I know why most of our fellow sri lankans voted him out. Other factors like corruption, thuggery also played a crucial role.
In our national anthem, we hold hands together and sing “eke mavakage daruvo”. I belive in that. Why,? If our country was invaded by a forighn force. Are we going to run out. NO we would fight them irrespective of religion, color, race.
This is what I teach my children to respect each persons religion, respect him for what he is, etc. Etc. It is us who have to give this open mind set to our future genaration, so they would continue this as “Eke Mavakage Daruvo”
Backlash / January 16, 2015
The polarisation of the communities that was imposed in 1956 on the country continues – and has only become sharper between then and now. The Sinhala mind-set is full of increasing communal and religious prejudice – with few exceptions among the middle class and the Sinhala elite in the urban areas. It does not take long for a single or a group of demagogues to subvert a semi-literate electorate like that of the Sinhala Buddhist entity here. The only exception is some of the extremists within the Buddhist camp are, since of late, beginning to realise rank anti-communalism can hurt them as well or perhaps more. They fear unless partial justice is done to the Tamils in the NEP the entire country may be put to the torch to burn again. Once-extremist Priests like Maduluwave Sobitha Thera, Athureliya Rattana Thera and politicians like the racial bigot Champika Ranawake and the JVP are prime examples of this change. But mercurial men like Ranawake can go back to their prejudices again.
There will not be much want of efforts among Sinhala Buddhist politicians and rabble-rousing politicised priests like Galabadda Aththe Gnanasara to fan the flames of racialism and communalism – whenever the time is ripe.
What happened on January 08th is almost divine intervention. The entire country was saved from a bunch of venal fascists ready to enslave the entire country for their parochial greed. We are still not out of the woods again.
It was the excesses and profligacy of the Rajapakse brothers and the arrogance of the younger siblings bordering on lunacy (night car races, space programs, hob-knobbing with fading Bollywood has-beens being some) that enraged the bulk of the Sinhala Buddhist electorate – particularly in the urban areas – to throw the Rajapakses out. Racialism and communalism can return anytime.
ferdhi / January 16, 2015
I am so glad you are back on line, your analysis on the election results is spot on and most people know that. It would have been a blood bath if M.R. had come back into power .They only know to rule by fear and hatred, as far as I am concerned we can all look forward to some peace and harmony for this “resplendent Island” the people have spoken.