20 July, 2024

Blog

The Choice On The Way To the Polling Booth: Sajith Vs. Anura

By Vipula Wanigasekera –

Dr. Vipula Wanigasekera

In the upcoming presidential election, Sri Lanka finds itself at a crossroads. The contest between Sajith Premadasa and Anura Kumara Dissanayake represents not just a choice between two individuals, but a choice between two distinct visions for the country’s future. With both candidates possessing unique strengths, the decision for voters, particularly the undecided or “floating” voters, is more crucial than ever.

Sajith Premadasa, a seasoned politician, brings with him a wealth of experience. His tenure as a senior minister in the government has provided him with a deep understanding of governmental processes, especially when it comes to implementing projects. This experience is a significant asset, suggesting that he is well-equipped to navigate the complexities of national governance.

Premadasa’s lineage is also noteworthy. As the son of a former president who made significant strides in housing development, he carries a legacy that resonates with many voters. This historical connection could serve as a powerful reminder of his father’s contributions to the nation.

Premadasa’s inherent vote base in Colombo, combined with his energetic campaign style, further bolsters his candidacy. His performance in the last presidential election, where he garnered over 5 million votes despite facing Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s near-landslide victory, showcases his ability to rally significant support even under challenging circumstances.

On the other hand,  Anura Kumara Dissanayake offers a vision of a corruption-free government, a pledge that has struck a chord with many, particularly the youth. His campaign has been marked by a strong stance against corruption, an issue that has plagued Sri Lankan politics for decades. This commitment to integrity is not just rhetoric; Dissanayake has benefited from the public’s growing frustration with corrupt practices, making him a beacon of hope for those disillusioned with the status quo.

Dissanayake’s support base is largely comprised individuals who have been adversely affected by the economic downturn. This demographic, which includes many young people, sees in him a leader who understands their struggles and is committed to addressing them. His clear vision for the country, combined with his educational background and knowledge, positions him as a candidate capable of bringing about meaningful change.

The outcome of this election may well rest in the hands of the floating voters, those who remain undecided and will make their choice on the way to the polling booth. These voters are crucial as they do not have a fixed allegiance and are influenced by campaign dynamics, recent developments, and the candidates’ final pitches.

For Sajith Premadasa, appealing to these voters may hinge on emphasizing his proven track record and his ability to deliver results. His experience in government, coupled with his energetic persona, can be persuasive arguments for those looking for stability and continuity.

Anura Kumara Dissanayake, needs to leverage his message of anti-corruption and renewal. By highlighting his commitment to transparency and his connection with the younger, economically disenfranchised electorate, he can position himself as the candidate of change and integrity which he seems to have achieved as seen through his addresses to Sri Lankans overseas.

In a tightly contested election, the possibility of a second counting cannot be ruled out. This scenario could potentially favor Premadasa, given his established political networks, which may be reflected in voters’ choice.

Additionally, there is a likelihood that parliamentary elections might precede the presidential poll, meaning the scenario described here might not carry as much weight. Nevertheless, there could be an outbreak of public anger over attempts by the government to hold parliamentary elections first to prevent the NPP from gaining ground, and this could be counterproductive for the government.

As Sri Lankans head to the polls in September/October, the choice between Sajith Premadasa and Anura Kumara Dissanayake represents more than a mere preference between two candidates. It reflects a broader decision about the country’s direction, influenced by the last-minute decisions of floating voters which the surveys cannot ascertain  as in the case ofconsumer black box” taught in Marketing studies.

*The writer is former Diplomat, Head of Sri Lanka Tourism Authority and Currently a lecturer for ECU and Meditation teacher and Youtuber

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 2
    0

    Dear Dr. Vipula Wanigasekera,
    .
    Many thanks
    for now turning your attention to the sociopolitical issues that must be addressed before other aspects of running this country are considered.
    .
    Thanks also for implicitly granting that the battle is between Sajith and Anura; the spectre of a Ranil candidacy has not been raised.
    .
    However, you have made two other assumptions here that I would call into question. Almost all citizens seem to be obsessed with the idea that nobody will get 50%+1 votes on the first count. We have had eight Presidential Elections so far, and you can access those results from here:
    .
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_presidential_elections_in_Sri_Lanka
    .
    For most of those elections, you can go from there to seeing how each of the many candidates fared with poll figures. The number of candidates keep going up, but only those finishing FIRST, SECOND, and in certain elections, the THIRD, poll significant numbers on the FIRST COUNT. This obviously results in the person finishing first getting elected.
    .
    To be continued:

    • 2
      0

      Continuing
      .
      Kindly brush up
      your elementary arithmetic. We sometimes forget the obvious. When we talk of percentages, we must remember that everything must add up to one hundred – no more, no less. Also, to say that we are 500% sure of something is to talk nonsense! But many do talk like that!
      .
      Look again at the display that you get when you click on the Wikipedia link that I have given you. In each election, there’s been a winner (with the percentage of the votes polled), the Runner-up Candidate, and Others. Study that third column. The way that Wikipedia has given us the initial display is useful. Please identify the elections in which the “Other candidates” have scored highest – 8.02% in 1988, followed by 6.17% in 1999. Because you are still thinking in terms of a second COUNT, study the election results taking that into account.
      .
      Even more significant is the 5.76% in 2019. Why? Because the man who came third that year is now the front-runner in 2024, and will be getting my vote! In that sense, I’m confessing that my writing is subjective, but the accurate figures are there for objective analysis.

      • 3
        0

        yes you have a point. My version was based on the interview that former election commissioner gave where he explained how the second counting is done. Last election did not call for such analysis and I did not take that for granted. Thank you for your comments though

    • 2
      2

      PART THREE Continuing
      .
      Now let’s go to the election where “Others” got the lowest – 2015; 1.14% although there were 19 candidates in the fray.
      .
      One reason for the “others” getting so few votes was that the leftist party with credibility, the JVP, did not contest, and backed Maithirpala Sirisena. Please read what is said in Wikipedia about that election. It had the highest turnout ever, 81.52% of registered voters.
      .
      I can see no significant Tamil candidate. “Sundaram Mahendran” sounds Tamil enough, but see who nominated him. Vikremabahu Karunaratne’s Nava SamaSamaja Party (NSSP), and they were absolutely committed to the Maithripala Sirisena candidature. I met Bahu, and this was the first time I tried to “do something”, after 1977, when as a young man I was persuaded to support J.R. Jayawardena’s UNP at the General (Parliamentary) Elections. There were no Presidential elections at that time, and I’m ashamed that I then supported the UNP, although there had been close relatives in the SLFP.

      .
      Feedback welcome, but at the bottom of this page, please, to allow my further comments below these three.
      .

      Panini Edirisinhe (NIC 483111444V) of 51B, Golf Links Road, Bandarawela, Sri Lanka

    • 0
      1

      Dear Vipula,
      .
      This is what you mean, probably:
      .
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mrz6RpzDaa4
      .
      I’ve been trying to work out these Preferences and the Second COUNT ever since Professor Kumar David began writing on the subject some months before the 2019 Election. He is a very intelligent man, and writes beautifully, but I felt that he was trying too hard to make the average reader understand. To that end, he wrote as though there were only two Preferences, and he suggested that those who voted for Anura (in 2019, that is) should cast a Preference vote for Sajith.
      .
      Who am I? Quite seriously, I’m an obscure “VishramikaGambadaIngirisiIskoleMahaththaya”. I kept following Kumar’s articles but “correcting” his suggestion to indicate Preferences 1, 2 and 3.
      .
      I’ve been praising that “clowning” performance by Deshapriya for the last almost five years. But where that misleads is in his giving the THIRD placed guy as many as 15%.

  • 3
    1

    Dr. Vipula Wanigasekera, though you speak about 2 aspiring presidentials for polling, there is a whole 226 so welded to the parliament building itself, having greedily tasted both wealth and power. They will not be tossed about in the wind and have long term plans too. System changes and voting needs to plan for them too.

    • 3
      0

      Yes agree

  • 4
    0

    SP’s ”proven track record and his ability to deliver results…’. I can’t think of any contribution SP has made in all his political life. He portrays an image of sophistication which his old man lacked but is still riding on his old man’s wave. He carries personal baggage, his old man’s hands being not so clean & I have heard about his family’s & his own dodgy dealings. His old man’s legacy is apparent when he opens his mouth.in Sinhala on a political platform. AKD speaks better & so far, his hands are clean but I would have more faith in him if he stepped down from JVP leadership. In the absence of any other credible opponent, my choice would be AKD, solely on his pledge to abolish the generous perks & privileges of politicians & bringing to justice those who plundered the country. Can he ‘walk the talk’? I have my doubts but its better to live in hope than voting for another career politician who has contributed nothing, apart from sucking up to the political monks & living the good life at the expense of the poor tax payer.

  • 3
    1

    We all assumed so far that the presidential election will happen before November 2024 and Ranil, Sajith and AKD are the candidates and three way competition. We also assumed that after Aragalaya SLPP has no chance of taking part in the election. All these are based on assumptions and we cannot predict how it’ll change in the last minute. The recent visits of Ranil, Sajith,andAKD and their promises and an announcement by Aragalaya Galle face group of federal solutions may give an opportunity for uniting the Buddhist community in the name of protecting Buddhism and Buddhist.

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.