By Hema Senanayake –
Synergy is an important word in the subjects of management and business. A synergy is where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. In other words, when two or more people or organizations combine their efforts, they can accomplish more together than their accomplishments achieved separately. In mathematical terms, a synergy is where 2 + 2 = 5 not 4.
The Oxford Dictionary defined the word synergy as “the interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.”
Let us directly apply this concept to Uva province. In the provincial election just concluded, UNP polled 40.242%, JVP polled 5.357% and DP polled 0.890%.
Sum of their accomplishments achieved separately is 40.242% + 5.357% +0.890% = 46.489%.
When these parties combine their efforts it creates what is known as synergetic effect and could achieve more than 46.489%, perhaps it could be above 50%. I think synergy could possibly work big time in the next presidential election. This is the bottom line of fielding a common candidate from the opposition.
Usually the country expects to have all the Provincial Elections on one day. The opposition was demanding to adhere to that norm. The government did not listen. There is no respect for norms and principles. The UPFA decided to hold the Provincial Council elections according to their game plan. They carefully selected to dissolve a few PCs prematurely in order to do the acid test before run up to the national level elections. Uva election was to be the last test before the presidential election. Now it is over.
The UPFA decision to test the voter sentiment in Uva was not ad hoc. UPFA formerly thought that it was the best province for them having polled 72.39% votes in the previous provincial council election that was in 2009. There was no any other province in the country that rode so high with Mahinda Rajapksa’s administration. Chief Minister himself is a nephew of the president. All known conditions were in favor of the UPFA. The government’s objective was to get the highest number of votes with this conclusive test of its popularity.
Past results show that UPFA did better in the provincial elections than the national elections in the Uva Province. For an example when UPFA polled 72.39% in the provincial election in Uva in 2009, in the presidential election of 2010 Mahinda Rajapaksa polled only 57.8%; it is a reduction of 14.59%. The trend is that UPFA will not do better in national elections that follow immediately after a provincial election in Uva. Now guess what will happen in the next presidential election when UPFA has polled just 51.246% in the just concluded provincial election in Uva. For the UPFA this is a worrisome victory just before a possible presidential election; and some people defined it as a defeat. The Sunday Times reported it as follows: “Despite a turbo charged campaign with lethal weapons from its political armoury, the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) faced a humiliating outcome at the Uva Provincial Council elections. (The Sunday Times)”
In the best province for the government UPFA has now polled 51.247%. The sum of accomplishment achieved separately by UNP, JVP and DP is 46.489%. If synergy works, the opposition has chances to win even in Uva in the next election; extrapolate the results and it could be a landslide victory. Does anybody can doubt it now?
It is true that the UNP is still disorganized at grass roots levels. Yet, UNP is the largest party in the opposition. Most of their grass roots activists and sympathizers have now been energized greatly after the Uva election. Still some people doubt the chances of winning the next presidential election by a UNP candidate.
According to a report from Ceylon Today, Ven. Maduluwawe Sobhitha Thera is one notable figure who expressed such doubts. He has stated that, “the Uva results do not necessarily mean the UNP will be victorious at a future election.” He insists that it was imperative to find a common candidate for the upcoming presidential election. Later I reliably learnt that Ven. Sobitha had given up the idea of looking for common candidate other than from UNP.
However, I prefer to work with starting from known facts. We can’t start with pure dreams. The common candidate can either from UNP or as JVP has envisioned he or she can be a non-party candidate. Bertie Ranaweerage writing an article to Colombo Telegraph recently which article is titled “Can Ranil Defeat Mahinda?” has suggested to “choose a common candidate such as Ms. Chandrika Kumaratunga Bandaranaike who can command the support of the majority of the voters at the next Presidential Election.” How did Bertie come to this conclusion? His opinion is that Chandrika is a charismatic candidate.
But we cannot forget the fact that UNP being the largest party and having got new talents such as Harin Fernando, has recently grown into a charismatic organization under leadership council. With new appointments the party is more united. Shirley Sagawa, a management consultant says, “What every person involved with an organization was fully engaged and shared a common goal? – That is the way charismatic organization operates.” I think as at now UNP is a better charismatic organization than SLFP, hence we may reliably presume that UNP would perform better than it did in Uva. Ranil being the leader of UNP, he will gain the support from more grassroots activists and sympathizers than Chandrika would. Therefore, we may come to the following conclusion:
UNP + JVP + DP =46.489%; and if synergy works they can win.
Now replace the common candidate Chandrika into the above simple equation. Since we cannot assume the performances left hand side of the equation is a question mark and so is the right hand side of the equation; that means we have an equation having question marks on both sides as follows: ? =?
Therefore, my conclusion is that UNP candidate has a better chance to win the election than non UNP candidate even if he or she is considered as the common candidate.
Synergy works for JVP and DP too. Both parties will earn the respect for respecting democracy for inviting UNP which is the largest party in the opposition, to nominate the common candidate. They have known statistical facts to prove the nation that synergy is going to work and they will win. JVP’s eloquent speakers would rise to be national leaders. DP leader Sarath Fonseka will be a sine qua non in the platform of common candidate.
What the Ven. Sobitha, JVP and DP should do now is to invite the UNP to nominate the common candidate and be ready to hold the UNP candidate for a program at least in the area of constitutional amendments, democracy, establishing the law and order and common sense decency in the governance.
There is something call negative synergy too. If it is explained with mathematical approximation negative synergy is where 2+2 = 3 not 4; meaning that accomplishment achieved together is less than what is achieved separately. How this could possibly work in the election?
Let me give a hypothetical example. There are a few ethno-religious based political parties. For an example let us take SLMC and JHU. If one of these parties join with common candidate, perhaps negative synergetic effect could occur. But both SLMC and JHU join to the common platform the synergy could be positive. Therefore, the opposition must be careful not to have negative synergies too.