14 July, 2020

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The Twenty Year Itch: Implications For The SLPP And The Gotabaya Presidency      

By Rajan Philips

Rajan Philips

The twenty-year itch, or the 20-25 year itch as some call it, is the notion that electoral politics in Sri Lanka experiences a tsunami-like wave every 20 or 25 years that sweeps up the electorate, upending long-governing parties and replacing them with new ones. 1956, 1977, 1994 were tsunami elections.  These elections and their consequences have been different from the recurrent government changes that occur at shorter intervals in between. Calling them tsunami elections is not a causal explanation, but a correlational observation. What does this mean for the SLPP and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa? It is taken for granted that the SLPP will win the upcoming election in August, at least win the largest number of seats. The pedestrian question is whether it will get the constitutionally coveted two-thirds majority. A different and somewhat historical question is whether the SLPP today is at the same point as the UNP was in 1977, and the SLFP in 1994, when they began their long tenures in power. That question is not going to be answered by the results of the upcoming August election, but what will transpire after that.      

For now, it is a relief that after such a long wait Sri Lanka will finally have its 16th parliamentary election on Wednesday, August 5, 2020. This would be the fourth August election after parliamentary elections began in 1947, which was also the first August election and voting in that election went on for a month from 25 August to 20 September. The sinister purpose of extended voting was to give the outgoing Board of Ministers, who had jumped on to the new political wagon (the UNP) created on the fly by DS Senanayake, sufficient time to deploy state resources for political campaign from one part of the island to another. Multi-day elections, advantaging the UNP in power,  continued in 1952 and 1956. One-day only polls began in 1960 March, perhaps the only significant initiative of Prime Minister W. Dahanayake during his short six-month tenure after the assassination of Prime Minister SWRD Bandaranaike in September 1959. There have been two August elections since, both after 1977 and under the current constitution and the presidential system. 

The first was on 16 August 1994, when Chandrika Kumaratunga spectacularly led the Peoples’ Alliance to throw out the UNP after being continuously in power for 17 years. The next one was on 17 August 2015 when the common opposition forces led this time by the UNP brought down the SLFP parliamentary majority after 21 years. Is August the turnover month after long years of one-party dominance in the name of political stability? Is there anything special about the August moon?

Never mind, here we are still 37 days from the next August election, and 103 days after nominations closed on 18 March for what was to be a 25 April election. The coronavirus had other plans, and even though it has spared Sri Lanka to get away without serious symptoms, it scared the hell out of everyone to put the country under lockdown and have the elections postponed from 25 April, to 20 June, to finally 5 August. 

The election timing as well as its eventual conducting are highly unusual. That unusualness is not going to change what political parties are going to try to get out of this election, and what the ultimate outcome or outcomes may turn out to be. However, the objectives of the current political leaders and their alliances and the constraints they have to deal with, are quite different from what had characterized earlier parliamentary elections under the presidential system. The outcomes are also going to be different. These differences have nothing to do with the coronavirus, but they will have a bearing on how equipped the country would be to deal with the challenges created by the coronavirus after the elections are over. 

Elections Past

So far, there have been seven parliamentary elections under the presidential system. Three of them were during President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s second term, in October 2000, December 2001, and April 2004. She is the only Sri Lankan political leader to convincingly win a parliamentary election, in August 1994, and equally convincingly translate it into a presidential election victory, which she did within three months, in November 1994. JR Jayewardene too became president after winning a parliamentary election in 1977, but that was through a constitutional amendment which transubstantiated him from Prime Minister to President. 

In a foretelling of the future, which no one saw through at that time, President Jayewardene governed the country for eleven years without holding a parliamentary election. But there was a parliament, unlike now, the one that was elected in 1977, and was kept going till 1988 through the contraption of a referendum in 1982. JRJ also used his massive and captive parliamentary majority to suspend the civic rights of his chief political opponent and former Prime Minister, Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike.

The first parliamentary election under the presidential system eventually came in February 1988, President Jayewardene’s last year as President. The UNP won the election but against a far more competitive SLFP and ULF. Then Prime Minister R. Premadasa was the UNP candidate in the second presidential election in November 1988, which he won against a very competitive Mrs. Bandaranaike who by then had her civic rights restored. Premadasa succeeded JR Jayewardene in January 1989 

President Premadasa, who was assassinated by the LTTE on May Day 1993, the first and the only Sri Lankan head of government to be assassinated after SWRD Bandaranaike in 1959, is also the only President who did not conduct either a presidential election or a parliamentary election while in office. His stopgap successor, President DB Wijeytunga, managed to conduct both the parliamentary election and the presidential election in 1994. The UNP lost both and Mr. Wijeytunga was not a candidate in the presidential election. 

Like Mr. Premadasa in 1988-89, Mahinda Rajapaksa succeeded incumbent President Chandrika Kumaratunga in November 2005, after narrowly winning the presidential election as the SLFP candidate. Unlike President Premadasa, however, President Rajapaksa defeated the LTTE, and used the aura of the war winner to win the presidential and parliamentary elections, one after the other in 2010 January and April. His political fortunes abandoned him in January 2015 when he extra-constitutionally tried to win a third term in office, and lost the election to the common opposition dark horse, Maithripala Sirisena. Sirisena promised to be a one term president and end the executive presidency after him. He did nothing to end the presidency, but the country was too tired of him and ended his presidency after a single term. 

Somewhat like DB Wijeytunga, but not at all “Doing Bloody Well”, Sirisena managed to hold a parliamentary election in August 2015 and a presidential election in November 2019. In between Sirisena and Ranil Wickremesinghe jointly presided over the disastrous yahapalanaya misadventure that created a clear path for Gotabaya Rajapaksa to abandon his US citizenship and become President of Sri Lanka in one meteoric rise, in the course of one year. This is the backdrop to the upcoming 5 August election and the unfolding presidency of Gotabaya Rajapaksa.  

Own Goals Election

The most important difference from the past is that for the first time since 1947, the country will go through a parliamentary election without either the UNP or the SLFP being the principal contender for power. Between 1952 and 2015, the two parties were the dominant political parties in every election, parliamentary and presidential, as they alternated between government and opposition. In the heady days of Maoism, N. Shanmugathasan the leader of the Communist Party (Peking), called this alternation the musical chair game of Sri Lankan politics. It really was until 1977 when the music stopped. Four decades on, the old parties are also disappearing. There was no SLFP in the 2019 Presidential election. And it is not going to be there in any substantial way in the August parliamentary election. 

For its part, the UNP is now going through what the SLFP has been going through for the last five years. In fact, it is worse for the UNP. In the August 2015 parliamentary election, the SLFP contested as a single party but under a split head (Rajapaksa and Sirisena). The UNP, on the other hand, is split through the torso and will be contesting the next election as two separate entities. The smaller legal UNP under Ranil Wickremesinghe, and the larger breakaway SJB (Samagi Jana Balawegaya) under Sajith Premadasa. They will be fighting each other to get more seats and to brag about it after the election.  

The more consequential difference from the past is the emergence of the SLPP, that has never contested a parliamentary election before, as the most likely winner in the upcoming August election. The SLPP is not a new party representing any fundamental realignment of sociopolitical forces. It is not even a formal breakaway from the SLFP. Rather, it is the outcome of some clever poaching of the SLFP base by Basil Rajapaksa facilitated by specific developments after January 2015: nationalist disillusionment with Ranil Wickremesinghe among the Sinhalese; disaffection with Maithripala Sirisena among the SLFPers; Mahinda Rajapaksa’s political charm that was constantly boosted by yahapalanaya blunders; and the fascination with Gotabaya Rajapaksa as a no-nonsense President among Sinhalese professional and new business classes. 

It is easy to see that none of the factors that have shaped and catalysed the success of the SLPP are available to Sajith Premadasa’s SJB. Nor is there any evidence to suggest that Sajith Premadasa has it in him to build up a new political organization from the grassroots of the UNP. The prospects for the leftover UNP leadership are even worse. In any event, neither side can do much before the August elections. How they fare in the August polls will indicate how they will perform after the election – whether either of them will be able to remobilize the abandoned UNP base, or a new political force might emerge to carry out that task.

As for the SLPP, history may not be on its side going by the “20-25 year itch” in Sri Lanka’s electoral politics. Although the SLPP is new and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is newer, the Rajapaksa association with power is now fifteen years old, leaving aside the yahapalanaya interregnum (like the UNP interregnum of 1965-70). By that measure, the Rajapaksas are well past the midway point in the itchy time span, and not at the beginning of one. More than historical cycles, the challenges facing the SLPP and President Rajapaksa are both current as well as unprecedented. 

The coronavirus threat is not abating anywhere with epicentres of caseloads and deaths inexorably shifting to the southern states in the US, South America, and South Asia, where Sri Lanka is still, by effort or good fortune, only minimally impacted. The government cannot expect the return of the pre-covid normalcy any time soon. The government’s weak spot and its biggest challenge are the economy. So far, its responses have been rightly criticized as being clueless and as panicking. More will be said after the election when the government runs out of excuses.  And criticisms are likely to come from outside the parliament than from within. None of the contending opposition parties are able to capture the public’s attention either with their criticisms of the government, or with any alternative suggestions that they might have on offer. 

The election itself will be an election of political parties hitting more own goals, than scoring against one another. The UNP and the SJB will be hitting own goals against one another. The JVP will again be kicking around with no goal posts on the field. The Sri Lankan Tamils, the Muslims and the Up Country Tamils will be playing in their own leagues at the margins of Sri Lankan politics. The main game at the centre will be Rajapaksa v. Rajapaksa, sounding like Kramer v. Kramer of old, but in reality a proxy battle between the followers of the President and those of the Prime Minister. 

It would be interesting to see what the President and the Prime Minister, and their followers, will do if the SLPP were to win a two-thirds majority and can potentially proceed with constitutional changes. Whose powers will be increased, and whose will be trimmed, the PM’s or the President’s? They both cannot have their powers increased. What they have now is a fine balance. The unpalatable alternatives are for the Prime Minister to become “a name board”, or the President to follow the model of William Gopallawa.    

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Latest comments

  • 14
    1

    “… N. Shanmugathasan … called this alternation the musical chair game of Sri Lankan politics. It really was until 1977 when the music stopped. Four decades on, the old parties are also disappearing. There was no SLFP in the 2019 Presidential election. And it is not going to be there in any substantial way in the August parliamentary election. “
    *
    But it is still musical chairs.
    The tune has changed and the organist cheats a little here, a little there: dissolves parliament prematurely, prolongs the term a little, allows gunmen in polling booths, makes a referendum a substitute for an election. The game, truly, is rowdier than it once was. But international game monitors recognize it as the game fair and square.
    Yes, it is the same game essentially, the way Test Cricket , One-Day Cricket, T-20 and other regional variants are the same game.
    Like in cricket big money is involved.
    *
    SLFP would have been SLFP, if a take-over bid for the club was not blocked.
    UNP may still have been intact if a Maharaja had his way and his favourite prince took charge.
    *
    But what’s in a name?
    Excrement by any name….

    • 10
      0

      SJ,
      “SLFP would have been SLFP, if a take-over bid for the club was not blocked.
      UNP may still have been intact if a Maharaja had his way and his favourite prince took charge.”
      The SLFP was in fact taken over by Sirisena, wasn’t it?
      True about the Maharajah. We report and he decides.

      • 8
        0

        OC
        True, Sirisena took over by blocking what was in the process of a take over.
        Had the earlier bidder been allowed to complete his take-over, the SLPP would not have been conceived.
        But the SLFP would, however, have been repackaged as the creation of someone from Medamulana.

      • 2
        1

        old codger

        Have you seen English/Tamil version of MCC Review Committee final report 2020 June 23?

        Gota is gearing up to completely transforming this island into a stupid country, by denying people the right to have English/Tamil translation official transactions/publications. It started with banning Tamil National Anthem sung at public functions.

        Is it the case of Gota hiding facts from the general public? By issuing MCC report in Sinhala Only what is he trying to hide from Yankees? Maybe he is trying to be too clever.
        Or is it the case of functionaries have lost their ability to think in multiple languages?

    • 1
      0

      True to its content the electoral processes herein are like the game of cricket in its different formats. The story will come with the betrayal of the process by selling their own game and later to find one or more of the ones in charge charging in betting lines to allege irregularities.

      We are spectators only and in the Shakespearean language …the world is a stage …..and in the state of affairs we are not actors but some are indeed but just spectators.

  • 27
    5

    Rajan Philips

    Gota will make/replicate a good Robert Mugabe, president for life, still talking about the brave soldiers, bush war against the ruling Demela, while his cronies grab land, grab good jobs, ….. defraud treasury, keep blaming the Sudda/Demela for all ills suffered by the people , expect regular dhana from Hindia, UK, Portugal, Netherlands, ………………. demanding more support from Sinhala/Buddhists, …. even in 2040, ………..

  • 19
    4

    We, most right thinking citizens of SL thought we really got a government of Good Governance. It turn out to be utterly hopeless except there wasn’t unjudicial killing/torture etc. W e certainly do not want an Army rule. We hoped that there would be some sort of criteria for people to contest in the election of MPs. It did not happen.
    Future doesn’t sound good.

    • 6
      1

      Naman

      “We, most right thinking citizens of SL thought we really got a government of Good Governance.”

      True.
      However Mahinda was the co-prime minister and co president. Gota was still the defence minister/secretary and commander of the armed forces. The state functionaries were answerable to MR and GR.

    • 0
      0

      Naman ,

      ” We , most right thinking people of S L thought……” Wait a minute !
      Right thinking people thought they got a govt of Good Governance ?
      With the permanent loser Ranil being propped by hook or crook
      Sirisena and Rajitha , Champika and that kerosene oil Rathana ? You
      lot seriously believed in Good Governance from these guys and after
      losing the game you still call yourselves ” right thinking something ?
      Come on Naman , wake up , still not late , there’s no such thing as
      “right thinking” in our paradise , it’s all about failed suicide attempts !

  • 9
    3

    It may be that I’ve got it all mixed up, but I’m in the mood to curse the UNP for all our ills for 72 years! Theirs were leaders who could afford to retire honourably when the going was not good, and sit at home.
    .
    The only man who did that was Dudley Senananyake. DB Wijeytunga as well, I guess.
    .
    What possible notion can Ranil Wickremasinghe have of how long we will curse him. “We” – I include SLFP supporters as well.

  • 13
    2

    20 Year of Military itch e in Sri Lanka starting 2019

    Political tsunamis created after1948 by power-hungry Singhala Buddhist Political party’s gradually destroyed the International reputation, Unity, Human Rights, and the Economy in a so-called 70% Buddhist country. It helped to create political dynasties. Accumulate wealth of selected Political regimes. That is what the country has achieved during the last 72 years of independence. The Admisstrave system, Security, and Legal system have deteriorated. Stooges and not dedicated efficient men are nominated to top positions. No progressive thinking with respeccing to lives and rights as what Buddha Dharma preached is thoroughly violated in a Buddhist Country. It can be drawn parallel with Burma. The worst change in Theravada Buddhism, a progressive-minded religion, is the attitude and behavior of Sri Lankan Buddhist monks. It started with Buddharkitha and Somarama terms. They got involved in politics using Buddhism as their weapon and in saffron robes with a fan in their hands. They forgot the preaching of Gauthma Budddh and developed a new concept of Theravada Buddhism in Sri Lanka that will help them live a comfortable life like a rich man with a BMW car. I phone. Many of them do not know the heritage of the country.

    • 4
      11

      Kuviyam,
      Buddhist Monks started playing a role in protecting the country which is within the purview of politics when ‘Para’ Dravidian invaders from Hindusthan who invaded Sinhale 52 times killed Sinhalayo and Buddhist monks and burnt down Sinhala settlements in the North and East where Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa Kingdoms existed forcing Sinhalayo to retreat to safer areas.
      During colonial rule, Buddhist monks played a role against colonial rulers who oppressed and killed Sinhala Buddhists. Several Buddhist monks faced firing squads of British.
      During Tamil terrorism, Buddhist monks held the fort in frontier villages undergoing enormous hardships. Several Buddhist monks in North and East were brutally killed by Tamil terrorists.
      Even now Monks who reside in temples in North and East play a vital role in protecting Sinhala Buddhist heritage sites from ‘Paradeshis’ who vandalize them and encroach temple land.
      Because of the role played by Buddhist monks in protecting the country from external enemies and enemies within they became a ‘Pain in the Neck’ of Demala invaders, colonial rulers, separatist Demala politicians and Wahabi Muslim extremists.

      “They got involved in politics using Buddhism as their weapon and in saffron robes with a fan in their hands.”

      • 0
        0

        Our President’s motto “do what as I say, not as I do” He the one who wiped out entire LTTE leadership and LTTE from our Sinhalese Aryans country Heladiva (Sri Lanka)

  • 5
    22

    Rajan Philips,
    There is no official category called ‘Up Country Tamils’. The official term is ‘Indian Tamils’.
    Can you please tell us the difference between ‘Sri Lankan Tamils’ and ‘Indian Tamils’. After all Tamil (Demala) people have their origin in India (Hindusthan). The so called ‘Sri Lankan Tamils’ are the descendants of Dravida laborers brought to Yapanaya by Portuguese to work in tobacco plantations. They were categorized by colonial rulers as ‘Malabars’ because they were picked up from the Malabar region in Hindusthan until a guy named Ponnambalam Arunachalam involved in preparing the Census Report in 1911 changed the term ‘Malabars’ to ‘Ceylon Tamils’. The ‘Indian Tamils’ are indentured Dravida laborers brought by British to work in tea plantations.

    My conclusion is this distinction is maintained by Well Lar elites who want to show their higher status based on caste although they themselves keep on blaming Sinhalayo for not giving equal status to Demala people as citizens.
    Sinhalayo gave equal status when they granted citizenship to Demala people abandoned in Sinhale by colonial rulers. It is Demala people who do not give equal status to their own people. Caste-based discrimination is rampant within Demala community. Correct me if I am wrong.
    —–
    Quote “The Sri Lankan Tamils, the Muslims and the Up Country Tamils will be playing in their own leagues at the margins of Sri Lankan politics.” Unquote

    • 3
      13

      Its extremely dangerous to call these people “Hill country Tamils”, which will make this identity and once its solidified they might ask for a separate state in the Hill country one day, like the other lot. They can easily make a new history for themselves like the other lot have done, drawing from the same sources like the remains and artefacts left by Tamil invaders centuries ago. They should never be called anything else than Plantation Tamils or Estate Tamils. I wonder if we move the plantations to lets say, Jaffna, will they be Jaffna Tamils?

      • 1
        1

        Punchi Point
        Punchi Brain
        Punchi Willi

        “…………… which will make this identity and once its solidified they might ask for a separate state in the Hill country one day, ……………”

        What’s wrong with it?
        Anuradhapura Kingdom, Kandyan Kingdom, …… had its unique identity for nearly 350 years, so did Jaffna Kingdom, Mummudi Chola Mandalam, Kingdom of Sitawaka, Kingdom of Kotte, …… Puruthugisi Lankawa, Landesi Lankava, Brithānya Laṃkāva, ………………. What’s your problem?

        You are in a trance like state of mind since the public racist Anagarika Homeless Dharmapala concocted a new identity for you stupid lot. Aryan Sinhala/Buddhist is about 100 years old, yet you noisy minority demand priority over others, ….

        If a minority could have such parochially defined new identity why not others?

    • 9
      3

      Eagle,
      “The so called ‘Sri Lankan Tamils’ are the descendants of Dravida laborers brought to Yapanaya by Portuguese to work in tobacco plantations.”
      How many times do you have to be told that your own relatives with names like Silva, Singappulli, Nanayakkara, etc, also came the same way? My favourite is Gardiyahewa Sarath Chandralal Fonseka, who has Dutch, Portuguese, and Sinhala in his name.
      Your ancestors were not even allowed to join the Sangha until the Dutch helped them.
      Sinhalayo my foot!

    • 2
      1

      By Tamil terrorism did you mean Karuna?

      He is the only Tamil terrorist left. And he is living in Madamulana.

  • 11
    2

    I must compliment the author on very good neutral unbiased political analysis. No doubt armed forces will be at the ready with confidently ignorant masses back the SLPP to the hilt and the minority parties utterly fragmented, the SLPP will have total control. So, it will come to pass the Megalomaniac Mahinda Rajapaksha will be prime minister and the Rajapaksha family will continue to enrich itself again.

  • 7
    2

    The nation has been itching ever since the 1956 poll when the racist SLFP scored a landslide victory on mainly the language issue.
    From that period of time, the economically strong a pleasure to live in island had been driven down the pallan and is today one of the most despised countries on this wonderful planet.
    =
    Who’s responsible for this downward slide.?
    It was the SLFP, they had a parting of ways after the 2015 poll where the 10% commission earning rajapuka was instrumental in the formation of the boruma hora SLPP who has successfully used the stupidity of most of the Sinhala race along with the help of the Buddhist Monk rowdies to become undisputed winners at the local government and the 2019 presidential poll.
    =
    They were able to achieve these victories mainly due to the sad fact that the UNP leadership till today are at loggerheads fighting each other.
    =
    Not being content with the fact that kallathoni rajapuka is sitting on the royal throne mahindan rajapuka along with his uncouth criminal gangs are greedily seeking a 2/3rd majority at the upcoming parliamentary poll.

    • 4
      0

      rj1952: You would have never ever heard of an “SLFP”, if it’s founder Late Mr. S.W.R.D.Bandaranaike was given his due place to be the Prime Minister of the UNP Government. What prevented it, you might want to know. It was nothing but “Family Succession”. At the time, Late Mr. D.S.Senanayake suddenly passed away, Mr.S.W.R.D was the Minister of Local Government in the UNP cabinet.

      • 2
        0

        S
        Kindly check your dates.
        The SLFP was founded on 2 September 1951.
        DSS died on 22 March 1952.
        Even if SWRDB had a good astrologer to help, he would have been cheated. The old man had ensured that the governor of the colonial regime will make his son his successor, in the event of his death. (Also SWRDB did not belong to the same club as DSS.)
        Have you heard of the famous “Premier Stakes” by Sir John K?
        *
        RJ1952
        For people who remember only Sinhala only in connection with 1956, the SLFP will be racist but not the UNP. Please go back eight years; and further back to 1944 in the State Council.
        The SLFP easily swept the board because the UNP held the election on three separate days and released the results soon after, in the hope that its early gains will influence the voters. The UNP lost some of its ‘sure’ seats on Day 1. That meant that several other sure seats like Kelaniya too were lost.
        The LSSP and CP had 17 seats between them, the FP 10 and UNP 8. The SLFP (rather MEP) won 51 out of 95 with 39.5% of the vote. Not much of a landslide I would say.

        • 0
          0

          SJ & rj1952: No dispute over the date of the formation of SLFP. Mr. S.W.R.D. resigned from the UNP cabinet in 1951 and brought his Sinhala Maha Saba to form the SLFP and contested in 1952. Next step was to form another movement named “Mahajana Eksath Peramuna (MEP) and won the election to become the PM in 1956. The main factor I wanted to point out was to say nothing of these mentioned “Dramas” would have taken place if UNP decided to give the Premiership to Mr. S.W.R.D. Infact, the attempts (several discussions in “Hotels” etc.) made by Sir Oliver Goonathilaka to make him (S.W.R.D) PM failed and finally the decision on the son of Late D.S, Mr. Ddudley Senanayaka. That “Decision” was nothing but “Family Succession” thinking of the Politicians and the Parties, THEN & NOW”.

          • 0
            0

            Simon
            I am not sure if negotiations took place in hotels then like they happen now.
            I am not convinced that any such discussion led to naming Dudley S as successor to DSS.
            Sir John K was bitterly disappointed that he was not made PM. His publication “Premier Stakes” is about the conspiracy to make the son successor.
            I do not know in what capacity Sir Oliver (who became the third Governor-General of Ceylon in 1954 when Sir John was PM) attempted the said deals?
            *
            Your general claim is not the issue, but the details that are full of holes.
            Please refer to reliable documentary evidence in support of your claims.

        • 0
          0

          SJ,
          It was MEP, not SLFP. mep itself was a coslition with PHILIP gUNAWARDENE lssp ot iT WAS mep that got 51 seats. MEP had a no contest pact with LSSP and CP. These two parties got 17 seats.If you want to find out whether it is a landside or not, you have to add votes polled by MEP, LSSP and CP and then find the percentage.
          lssp HESE TWO PARTIES HAD A NO CONTEST AGREEMENT WITH lssp and CP

          • 0
            0

            (There was some mix up.Please delete my earlier comment and replace it by this new comment)

            SJ,

            Refresh history. It was the year 1956,

            MEP was itself was a coalition with SLFP, VLSSP with Philip Gunewardene and the party of W.Dahanaike and IMRA Irriyagolle.

            This MEP had a no contest pact with LSSP and CP and UNP went to the polls alone .UNP was reduced to 7or 8 seats.

            Now if you want to find put the percentage of votes, the votes polled by MEP should be added by the votes polled by LSSP and CP.

            Then find out the percentage of votes polled by UNP and the combined votes of MEP+LSSP+CP.

            Further because of the no contest pact, MEP would have contested in lesser number of seats than UNP.

            Hence comparing percentage polled by UNP and MEP alone is meaningless.

            I hope I have not confused anyone who is not familiar with simple arithmetic.
            Sri

            • 0
              0

              Sri
              Thanks for the correction.
              I was only responding to the comment: “The nation has been itching ever since the 1956 poll when the racist SLFP scored a landslide victory on mainly the language issue.” by RJ1952.
              *
              There seems to be a slip in the Wikipedia entry re the MEP that you have used.
              Dahanayake leading the (Samastha Lanka) Basha Peramuna, I. R. M. A. Iriyagolla leader of the Samajavadi Mahajana Peramuna and a group of independents joined it.(http://www.island.lk/2008/09/26/features3.html)
              Iriyagolle and KMP Rajaratne were counted among the independents at the time.
              Rajaratne’s Sinhala Basha Peramuna later became the Jathika Vimukthi Paramuna, the other JVP.
              *
              Despite the no-contest pact the LSSP and CP all along kept their distance from the MEP.
              Thus adding their votes to MEP votes is of doubtful purpose, unless the aim is to assess the anti-UNP vote (which got a little amplified by the failed 3-day polling strategy).

        • 1
          0

          S J ,

          S W R D had already founded Sinhala Maha Sabha in 1937 and the
          name of the organisation says why it was founded ! He threw his
          weight behind D S but without giving in his communal political
          line that later makes him form the S L F P with the same policy .
          And Ranil definitely had a very good lesson here to follow from the
          U N P itself that taking Sirisena without giving him a colour wash
          won’t help in forming a government with him ! And that is exactly
          what Sirisena did ! Ranil is a TESTED Fool !

          • 0
            0

            WW
            You forget the communalism of DSS in his planned colonization schemes (denounced by Phlip G in his revolutionary days) and the Citizenshoip Act. The man was even more cunning than JRJ.
            SWRDB proposed federalism initially.
            His Sinhala Only was more rank opportunism than communalism. (The man could not communicate properly in Sinhala at one time.)
            *
            What was UNP’s record? The Kandy march in 1957? Dudley Senanayake’s notorious map of Ceylon (shaped as a cake in the hands of Sirimavo cutting of a chunk comprising N&E and giving it to the FP) during the 1960 July election campaign.

            • 0
              0

              S J ,

              Thank you for your reply . My approach is clear . I just limited
              my comment to S W R D’s start up and the lesson we draw from
              it ! My point was to include how the man, Sirisena who was
              brought up in the camp of his master performed it to his master’s
              satisfaction while D S disciple wobbled helplessly ! That does not
              mean Ranil’s ancestors were forgotten ! I give you a quote from the
              32nd president of the US , Franklin D Roosevelt about the dictator
              of his time in Nicaragua , Somoza , ” he’s a son of a bitch but he’s
              our son of a bitch.” Please note , I don’t belong to any party politics .

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                WW
                Thanks.
                On a lighter vein may I say that ‘politics need not belong to parties alone’.

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    In so called Democratic Socialist Republic country we have had four families rule almost 70 years (Senanayakas, JR/RW, Bandas and now Rajapaksas). In that there was uninterrupted 17 years of UNP and 21 years of SLFP/PA rule. Dosent it say enough about the political model , we Lankans have had since independence. I guess people liked it so much we also had two insurgencies and a civil war lasting for more than 30 years and yet they are getting ready in establishing more of it for coming many years. God Bless the Country.

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      C
      Has it been very different in India or Bangladesh? (The BJP has a different scheme of affairs which is worse than family rule.)
      Would it have been very different in Nepal but for the incomplete Maoist intervention?
      Amid military domination and dictatorship, Pakistan’s democratic governments were led by families, an important exception being
      Much has been written about the role of kinship in party politics in South Asia.
      Even Singapore has been infected.

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        Omission
        Important exceptions in Pakistan are Pervez Musharraf and Imran Khan . (But the Army still has a big say in how the country is run.)

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          SJ,
          In your opinion, is there any other country got it right other than China?

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            OhNo
            Did I said so?
            If that is your view and you want my opinion, I will disagree.

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    Rajan Philips doesn’t know whether it was by “effort or good fortune” that we have avoided getting badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic!!!? Seriously can you trust a person who doesn’t know what the whole world has suffered from for the past half year?
    Rajan Philips doesn’t want to give our government the credit of doing a good job in combating the spread of the virus once it was in the country, so he is denying how we actually managed this well and in the process he is belittling all the suffering and hardwork done by all of us, be it just a civilian or a policeman, soldier, doctor or nurse. Every single person in this country has contributed and have undergone hardships, especially the poor. We are still struggling and this stupid man is trying to make a cheap political point by trivialising this massive effort and sacrifice all of have done. The problem in our country and why we are divided is because of people like Rajan Philips always trying to make cheap politics of everything. What needs to be said is that we managed the pandemic so well because all of united to fight it.

    • 10
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      Punchi Point
      Punchi Brain
      Punchi Willi

      “Rajan Philips doesn’t want to give our government the credit of doing a good job in combating the spread of the virus once it was in the country”

      Gota demanded ICRC and received 1000 body bags some months ago.
      Do you know how many unused bags in stock?

  • 7
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    History always repeats in Srilanka. In Srilanka, a new history gave a birth in 1947. Since then the 20 year itch Tsunami happened not only in elections but also with bloodbath acts with 5 to 10 year itch 1958, 1970, 1977, 1883, 1989, 1995, and 2009, Such a frequent bloodbath can only happen in Srilanka under Buddhist Sinhala Government. In Srilanka’s over 3000 year history I don’t think such frequent bloodbath happened under Portuguese, Dutch or British rule or any other King’s rule. This is purely internal political bloodbaths and there was not single war with any other country. Srilanka military is the prime contributor in these bloodbaths. Even the 2018 Easter Bombing is most probably internal political bloodbath.

  • 6
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    The nation is still led and run by individuals who grew and were educated in the 1950s, 60,70 and 80s. When the world was a different place. Technology and globalization has completely altered since this generation got their education and influence. The country needs to get rid of all of these politicians, bureaucrats and civil servants. Put them out to pasture. These people which includes ranjan Phillips and other writers on this site. Are just too old and slow to get the job done. When my generation which grew up in the 1990 comes to power we will completely transform this joke of republic into organized, structured and productive society. It can be done in 10- 15 years. First task is cut the number of public holidays. This is evidence of the laziness of the masses. Second task is to have 6 months of compulsory military service. Sl men and women are fat and physically and mentally weak. Muslims and Tamils will have do their service or get jailed for teason. We are going to build a society based on speed, strength and creativity. Like the Olympic motto faster, higher and stronger. Not the current one- eat, sleep, and grumble.

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      W
      ‘The nation is still led and run by individuals who grew and were educated in the 1950s, 60,70 and 80s.”
      Are you sure about those who run it?
      Grew, yes.
      Educated?
      School education was badly screwed up in the 1990s and tutories took over. Education became learning by rote and worked example.
      Which worked example do you have in mind for this country?

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        Very true.
        =
        As a result of this screwing up, some had to go to supposedly “prestigious” unis in the the US, like Harvard and Cornell.
        =
        Those of us who were not good enough to get in to such places were forced to come back here and claim fake degrees from places like Harvard and Cornell.
        =
        Thanks to the “good nature” of our people, we were able to live this lie for decades. It is a worry that facts are coming out now.
        =
        Still, isn’t having some fake Harvard and Cornell graduates patronising our ‘thosai kades’ better than nothing?

        Sri Lankan people should learn to enjoy our “poetry”.

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    “The coronavirus had other plans, and even though it has spared Sri Lanka to get away without serious symptoms, it scared the hell out of everyone to put the country under lockdown and have the elections postponed from 25 April, to 20 June, to finally 5 August.”
    GR was really scared of postponing the polls.
    When April failed, he tried his best to have it at least by May. The SLPP tried even harder.

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    SJ, you have no idea what you are comparing. India and Singapore are no where close to our situation. Pakistan may be but there there was one family (which is almost discarded now) and rest is Army, The countries you talk are mostly transforming for the better. None of them had two insurgencies and a 30 years of civil war. It is two different perceptions. In medicine when two patients are suffering from alcohol related disease one in early stage and other is in terminal stage. The worst patient looks at the other and thinks “my condition is not so bad ,so that I still can drink little (?)”. The patient in the early stage should realize the severity by looking at the other and do the right thing . If he too thinks “he still can drink and will not get worse as the other , then no one can save”. This is called “Alcoholic Thinking”. This kind of perceptions are seen among routine diabetic and hypertensive patients too. Why do Lankans bringup others when talking about their own mess.. Is it denial , justification or alcoholic thinking???. It is not worth discussing on this any further, because the end result for Lanka is very clear.

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      C
      I was only commenting on ‘Family Rule’ in South Asia, which has been extensively commented upon by scholars who too may not have known what they were comparing.
      *
      If it is about kinship in dominant political families, let us wait and see if dynasties wither away elsewhere in South Asia.
      In nearly every state of India political parties (except the left) have got increasingly dynastic. (There is too much of lolly at stake.)
      *
      I am poorly informed on alcohol and alcohol related diseases. Thank you for the lesson.

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        C
        I would have expected you to spot that “Even Singapore has been infected.” was said in light vein, although there is quarrel in the family for family jewels including the crown

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