26 May, 2022


The Anger Of The People Has Spoken

By Uditha Devapriya

Uditha Devapriya

Whenever I failed to get the grade or mark I wanted at school, at a term or a monthly test, I used to brood over it for a long, long time, often for hours, sometimes for days. I would first console myself with the fact that there would always be a tomorrow and another chance. When that wasn’t enough, I’d try to rationalise my failure by dishing the blame on someone else. The teacher wasn’t good enough; that particular chapter was too hard; compared with those who got the lowest marks I was much better off; my handwriting was probably not legible enough for the teacher; my concentration during the exam was disturbed by a friend laughing. It didn’t take long for me to realise that these excuses absolved the only real person who could be blamed. Me.

It’s probably not uncharitable of me to note that most of our politicians remind me of my juvenile years. That’s why I can’t help but smirk when the recent Local Government Election results, profoundly unsettling as they are, compel enough hysterics from those who thought they would win (when they did not and could not) that they contort those results so as to tide over their failures. Mangala Samaraweera, for instance, suggests that the percentage of those who voted against Mahinda Rajapaksa rose from 51.28% in 2015 to 55.35% in 2018. Anura Kumara Dissanayake argues that the final results justify neither the government (the UNP and the SLFP) nor the Joint Opposition (which begs the question: does it justify him?). And Rajitha Senaratne, whose seat (Beruwela), like Samaraweera’s seat (Matara), his party unexpectedly lost, says that while the election was a setback, “the majority of Sri Lanka is still anti-Rajapaksa” (can he get any more obscurantist there?).

The premise for any political commentator when arguing about the post-2015 political scenario was that Mahinda Rajapaksa lost to Maithripala Sirisena. If those who shouted for the government used this as their rationale, it’s only fair to say that the premise for any comment on the LG Elections is that the Pohottuwa (the Sri Lanka Podu Jana Peramuna) not only won hands-down, but also won so decisively that it created history by being the second outside-the-mainstream party to defeat the mainstream (the first, of course, being the SLFP, which has now been relegated to the dustbin of history). This was a protest vote. The people weren’t necessarily voting out of love for Mahinda Rajapaksa and his brand of expedient populism: they were fed up of the UNP and the UPFA. The anger of the people has spoken, in other words.

The voting patterns bear this out. Even in areas inhabited and overseen by parliamentarians and MPs, whose monopoly over their regions were virtually unassailable – the UPFA in Polonnaruwa, the UNP in many areas in Kandy and Beruwela and Kalutara – the Pohottuwa won. The numbers are so overwhelming that they simply transcend any attempt made by naysayers and disbelievers to contort them. Mr Samaraweera’s view, to give just one example, can be countered by the fact that unlike in 2015 the SLFP, the UNP, and the other coalition parties, including the TNA and, to a certain extent, the JVP, were not canvassing for votes as a single entity. In August 2015 the situation was different: the bitter memories that Rajapaksa evoked in the minds of his critics at the grassroots were enough for them to cast him aside. Last week, on the other hand, was surely not a case of the hansaya fighting against the kesara sinhaya. It was a one-man party, led by his cohorts and loyalists, against the two oldest political parties in the country. As far as electoral battles go, that one-man party, and that man, won decisively.

Dayan Jayatilleka contends, in three separate analyses written days after the LG polls, that the United National Party should take note of the election results and reform itself gracefully, because, in his own words, “the February 10th shrinkage of the UNP is the consequence, not the cause, of the UNP crisis.” But I rather think that the vacuum at the centre of that party – despite arguments to the contrary made by the likes of Dr Jayatilleka I can’t think of a plausible alternative for Ranil Wickremesinghe, never mind the last-minute attempts (alleged as they are) at trying to replace him with Karu Jayasuriya – will continue for some time, which logically leads me to surmise that the LG Elections was less about the UNP, less about the centre-right economic and political agenda of Ranil Wickremesinghe and his loyalists (EconomyNext, which Dr Jayatilleka notes as “well established” and “UNP and West-friendly”, describes those loyalists as members of the FRCS, or Former Royal College Student, Cabal), that about the wildly oscillating behaviour of the UPFA and the SLFP. True, voters were tired of the UNP’s involvement with the Bond Scandal (most if not all of those MPs tarnished by the Scam – Sujeewa Senasinghe and Ajith Perera included – had to concede defeat in their seats), but they were even more tired of the man at the top and his party.

The first mistake Maithripala Sirisena committed was to take over the reins of the SLFP. This move, expedient and clearly necessary though it was at the time (the only way you could chase the Rajapaksas was by purging the party he’d led of his loyalists), soon grew to besmirch the president’s image as a non-partisan leader. He would have done better, I thought at the time, had he handed over the party leadership to another person, obviously a loyalist, and then gone back to the parliament to become the benign Asokian leader he got us to idealise him as. Instead what we got was a foggy, dense presidency, where the president would speak of reconciliation and the need for interethnic harmony on one day and rant against the Army being tried at a court for crimes against humanity on the very next. What this necessitated was a tussle, apparent in all but name, between the two arms of the unitary government, and what that tussle compelled was the rise and empowerment of the cast aside predecessor. That cast aside loser had to win again, magnificently so.

Had he and his cohorts not won that magnificently, though, even if they came first, the SLPP would not have the numbers to turn victory into celebratory rhetoric. Neither Dulles Alahapperuma nor G. L. Peiris nor Gamini Lokuge nor Dinesh Gunawardena would have been able to hold press conferences and smile at the journalists and make flippant jokes about not joining the government (Gotabaya Rajapaksa to a journalist at the Airport: “Who’d want to be Prime Minister in this mess?”) if they had got even two or three or four points below what they expected. My own prediction, with the UNP coming first and the Pohottuwa a close second, would not have been adequate, and if it had not been adequate, the government would have moved on. Everything clicked in one place, to the advantage of the Pohottuwa AND the UNP, the latter of which now has the numbers to run a government of its own.

The SLFP, for all intents and purposes, is dead. It will be a natural, though temporary, death, because the principles it claimed to stand for were denied by the family members of its own founder and later by the men who clinched power by chasing the Rajapaksas away. Those who were associated with it from 2015 to 2018 – including Duminda Dissanayake and Wijith Wijayamuni Zoysa and Mahinda Samarasinghe – cannot survive politically unless they get out of the SLFP, and even if they do, it will take a long, long time for the people to forgive them. The SLFP, for a still longer time, I suspect, will be laid to rest, unless a more convincing leader – not the president, not Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, and not Mahinda Rajapaksa – takes over its reins. Gunadasa Amarasekara said something to the effect that the SLFP, despite its many self-contradictions, has the ability to throw up a Mahinda Rajapaksa. I rather think that Mahinda will stay for some time in the SLPP, until a resilient, nationalistic, and able person decides to lead the SLFP.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 5

    Uditha Devapriya

    Whats the matter with you kids?
    I envy your imagination.

    The recent election is nothing do with call for a change of government nor an no confidence motion on the president , its just a midterm blues.

    Why don’t you kid compare like with like, apples with apples and oranges with oranges, Kavun with Kavun and Vaddai with Vaddai, ………………..

    Lets compare two recent local government elections where Dr Mahinda was thought to be the central player or celluloid hero .

    ……………………………………. 2011 2011………….. ……2018 2018
    UPFA/SLPP——–4,821,203 56.45%……..4,968,762 44.69%
    SLFP————————– —— ……….1,487,960 13.38%
    UNP—————–2,710,222 31.73%……..3,625,510 32.61%
    TNA—————– 255,078 2.99%…………339,675 3.06%
    JVP—————– 242,502 2.84%………….695,523 6.26%

    Initial observation
    If you consider this election is a vote of the angry masses look at the change in votes in physical terms as well as %.

    The UNP increased its total number of votes by 915,288 equivalent to an increase of 33.77% while Dr Mahinda led UPFA/SLPP increased its physical votes by 147,559, the increase represented only 3.06%.

    However Dr Mahinda led UPFA/SLPP share of total votes has decreased from 56.45% to 44.69%.

    On the whole the local “Anger Of The People Has Spoken” against Dr Mahinda (LLD + PhD X 3).
    Please find a person with a bit of common sense to explain this simple conundrum. Maybe Wimala Sangili Karruppan Weerawansa could explain lucidly to you.

    • 1

      NV – “Maybe Wimala Sangili Karruppan Weerawansa could explain lucidly to you.” Or maybe Die-yarn the public racist and war monger??

    • 0


      How did you get 2011 calculations / percentages?

      • 2

        Amila W

        Please access the following link, down load the report, save it on your computer, and use excel spread sheet to add and compute the percentages:

        There used to be an election department website for providing election results results of many years.
        Some donkeys have decided to remove the website completely.
        Here is the substitute:

        You will find election results for Provincial Council 2014, Presidential 2015, Parliamentary 2015, and Local 2018. Make sure you download and save them for rainy days. Next year you may be lucky if the above web is still working.

        Could anyone tell the Chairman of the Election Commission Mahinda Deshapriy, and other commissioners Mr. N.J.Abeysekere PC., and Prof. S.Ratnajeevan. H.Hoole the importance of making available 70 years of comprehensive election results to the masses. Since some donkeys decided to form this new commission replacing the old Election department they had decided to do away with Election Department’s comprehensive website.

        IT is supposed to make life bit easier for ordinary citizens. However in this island donkeys decide and work hard to reverse whatever gains/progress made by science and technology.

        Long live donkeys, monkeys and Lankies.

  • 1

    Na…it’s just two BestestBF’s in gross rivalry with each other. Join them together and one would get a super-majority of 44.69%+ 13.38% = 58.07%. One in a while, a covetous tentacle will move towards the greedy-UNP school of thought, but the two BestestBF’s will check and balance each other out.

  • 1

    NV – “Maybe Wimala Sangili Karruppan Weerawansa could explain lucidly to you.” Or maybe Die-yarn the public racist and war monger??

  • 0

    Unaddressed political calculation in number that attempted to justify their political arguments are baseless. Shifting of classes and forces are different in nature of revolutionary democratic changes expected by majority citizens of Island? ………Sri lanka.
    What is that UNP talk of inside party is not that issues of ills of our nation .
    If it is real issue is radical changes of old order of democracy of Society, Not that confined POLITICAL PARTIES to be replace by New Development of sustainability of Capitalism in Island.
    It should be suited newly developing and growing Globalization headed by emerging nations?
    This is not the case, while small do not understand Podiyan cannot judges of scatters of voters and its hidden truth of the trend of unable to identify aspirations of the People ?
    We are at era of demand vast changes that including Political -democracy ,Economy -equality and rebalance -Social inequalities are ours priorities of changes of politics of nation?
    By the path and model rapid development economy by eradication of poverty and rural Poor all nationalities through out Island. Politically people majority are ahead of Party leaders

    1 Sri lanka a history of Universal Franchised had been exercises since, 1931 during British colonial occupation that almost 87 years. ? Voters are well matured even remote rural to developed cities.

    2 Political classes and parties has shifted policies time to time not that accommodated aspirations
    of people needs that taken in account by development and Democracy of our country last 87 years.

    3 Political system has to be change but not updated into sustsnsbility of Economy development on going
    capitalism suited to our structural base of foundation of Economy and Social base.

    The recent elections results has revealed that majority People have vote New Political Party what is that aspirations of Democracy…….Development not that UNP, SLFP, JVP and TNA is in lost that is ground reality ?

  • 0

    Mangala’s justification is, 5.77 million voted for MR in 2015, and 4.95 million only voted for MR in the last elections.

    MR’s real victory is not the last elections. The real victory for MR is, that a rejected, autocratic megalomaniac president with lots of corruption, HR violation cases, is still able to gain 4.95 million votes, and he proved SLFP is nothing without him – He might be corrupt, crook or whatever you call it, obviously he knew how to reach to the masses and how to develop a brand new party.

    And MS and RW are making a big mess in these 2 areas.

  • 0

    Why is that Youngest Political Party in Sri Lankan of SLPP or Pohattuwa as symbol won a landslide victory in 2018 February 11 election ? It is nor that Normal situation in ours Universal Franchise that exercise 87 years since 1931 by Island voters. This is maturity of governances & rights of Democratic which out-come by the WILL of Citizens. Because political support is essential, that to be maintain Sovereignty of People; but not it is sufficient by WORDS ,need to be matched by DEEDS by votes.
    If majority we believed in DEMOCRCAY, that we have to be to take the many of steps needed to make its Work Sri Lankan civilization of modern democracy in locally and Globally .

    1 I always upheld Nation and People democracy to respect and accepts run country is decisive factor People have EVERY right to elected and selected their Own State and governance of Government by ballots but not that by Bullets of advocated JVP in since 1965 May and LTTE in 1974 May …TNA?.

    2 All that two Old political Parties and social forces has lost in numbers of polled voters in local Govt. elections, consequencestely result of that United National Party-UNP founded 1947 and Sri lanka Freedom Party exist since 1951! The long history in short that Old days democracy has put into dustbin into the history by majority voters these two major political has come to Second and Third positions in local govt.elections 11 FEBUARY 2018.

    This is that a certain historical lessons which I learn views of recent passed election of Democracy….
    .Sri lanka. ..

    4 Its an open new epoch different political- ERA of democracy from the PAST elections 1956, 1970, 1977, and 2010 .And as well as 2015 January 8th? Be rational to understand simple truth of message of their Sovereignty of PEOPLE…. Lankns.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 5 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.