26 September, 2020

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Three Ifs & Four Buts About Sri Lanka Election

By R Hariharan

 Col. (retd) R.Hariharan

Col. (retd) R.Hariharan

Forecasting elections is hazardous in Sri Lanka. And the general election held on Monday makes the job even more difficult. The three seasoned political stalwarts – former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, president Maithriala Sirisena his foe within the United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) and Ranil Wickremesinghe leading the United National Front for Good Governance (UNFGG) – are jockeying for power.

Though poll forecasts had predicted Ranil’s coalition having an edge over Rajapaksa’s UPFA, at least twice in the past they were proved wrong. Rajapaksa won the presidential poll in 2009 and lost it in 2014, belying the predictions. The question of both the UPFA and UNFGG coalitions ending up without a majority in the 225-seat in the parliament looms large now. Much depends upon Rajapaksa regaining public credibility for his coalition to win.

Ranil voteA number of ifs and buts, however, make the post election environment hazy.

The three “ifs”

1. If the UPFA gets a majority in parliament, pressure on Sirisena would increase to nominate Rajapaksa as prime minister. He may not able to prevent it if his constituency within the coalition loses out.

2. Even if the UNFGG gets a marginal majority of the seats, Wickremesinghe has said he would form a national alliance government of all parties. This could tempt winners from the UPFA to join the government as they did earlier.

3. Sri Lanka has no anti-defection law. So if neither coalition wins a majority, whoever can do political horse trading better can count on forming the government. In the past, Rajapaksa has proved to be a past master in such “under the table” deals.

The four “buts”

1. Both Rajapaksa-loyalists and Sirisena-loyalists of the UPFA are working to undermine each other’s candidates. This is likely to reduce the coalition’s winning chances. This could, moreover, give a free run to Wickremesinghe’s coalition particularly with his added attraction of national government.

2. Last presidential election showed that massive turnout of minority voters could decide the winner. But parliamentary election in the 22 electoral districts that elect 195 members is different from presidential poll; there are number of local issues which come into play in this election. How many of them would be drawn to the polling booths now? The electoral system has also been modified for this election. Both Wickremesinghe and the minority parties appear to be aware of this and have been focusing on national issues. But how much it will excite the minority voters to exercise their franchise?

3. Rajapaksa has been plugging Sinhala ‘nationalism’ in his campaign. He was defeated in 2009 despite flogging the nationalist credentials because allegations of corruption and misuse of power had clouded his image. Has he regained the credibility of Sinhala voters who had generally supported him? More importantly, would the swing voters prefer his reincarnation as prime minister?

4. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has always managed to win most of the seats in the northern and eastern parts of the country. However, it always had internal differences regarding the struggle for preserving the Tamil identity. With the exit of the Tamil Tigers (LTTE), the goal of the Tamils recovering from the post-war trauma is to survive rather than pursue the quest for a Tamil Eelam. The TNA had not been able to deliver its election promises in the past due to both Colombo’s inaction and its own inability to articulate a common agenda. TNA’s internal differences have now become deeper; how much it would affect its performance? Wickremesinghe has said that he supported a federal solution for Tamil issue which is one of the articles of faith of TNA. But the moot question is how much TNA can push it through even if it wins most of the seats? In the past it failed because it had not developed the fine art of political opportunism. In a parliament without either coalition winning a majority, can it change its style of politics?

By Tuesday afternoon the picture will clear on who is winning and who is losing. And the great game of horse trading may well begin after that.

*Col R Hariharan, a retired Military Intelligence specialist on South Asia, served with the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka as Head of Intelligence. He is associated with the Chennai Centre for China Studies and the South Asia Analysis Group. E-Mail: haridirect@gmail.com Blog: http://col.hariharan.info

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Latest comments

  • 14
    4

    Don’t worry about “ifs and buts” as UNP led by Ranil are set to win with a majority. All gimmicks of Mahinda to fool the masses have failed.

    • 0
      0

      Latest news
      MR spoken to AFP & accepted the defeat in Election

  • 7
    2

    There is no contest. It will be a landslide for the UNP. Stick to NOT BUTTING IN from India.

    • 2
      1

      Tassimo

      “Stick to NOT BUTTING IN from India.”

      He is only having a discussion with his stupid cousins both Tamils and Sinhalese. Why shouldn’t he?

  • 2
    9

    Leaked Exit Poll! This poll was based on asking voters which party they voted for, collected from postal voters and those who voted today. However due to the legality reasons the source cannot be revealed. there is a margin of error of ten seats for major parties and 2.5 for small parties e.g TNA, JVP
    UNF-UNP-71
    UPFA-SLFP- 110
    TNA-20
    JVP-10
    BBS-4
    other-10
    It is to be noted that despite UNF having a better overall result in popular vote, much of their voter base was concentrated in Colombo and parts of Central District particularly Kandy which has been considered a UNP strong hold.The more even spread of popularity enabled UPFA to suceed in the FTP seats as opposed to UNF. As expected TNA sweeped the Nothern Province and parts of the East. However the biggest surprise is the BBS gains which managed to garner around enough votes to win national list seats however did not win FTP Electorates. Disappointing Night for Prime Minister Wickremasinge while a astounding result for Former President Rajapaksa and his Supporters. Thats all there is. Hope you are enjoying the election day.

    • 1
      0

      Appachchi’s wet dream? BBS 4 seats? Must be votes from Gotabaya’s family.

    • 0
      0

      E.P

      Are you not doubly relieved that you did not disclose the source, not just for legal reasons, but seemed to have saved much embarrassment with respect to the organization’s polling and forecasting skills and capability!

      How bad can they be to come with a forecast of UNF-UNP-71 UPFA-SLFP- 110 TNA-20, from exit polls. Polling is definitely not their forte. Perhaps they should take up to astrology as understudy of Mahinda’s astrologer now in hiding!

  • 1
    6

    Leaked Exit Poll! This poll was based on asking voters which party they voted for, collected from postal voters and those who voted today. However due to the legality reasons the source cannot be revealed. there is a margin of error of ten seats for major parties and 2.5 for small parties e.g TNA, JVP
    UNF-UNP-71
    UPFA-SLFP- 110
    TNA-20
    JVP-10
    BBS/BJP-4
    other-10
    It is to be noted that despite UNF having a better overall result in popular vote, much of their voter base was concentrated in Colombo and parts of Central District particularly Kandy which has been considered a UNP strong hold.The more even spread of popularity enabled UPFA to suceed in the FTP seats as opposed to UNF. As expected TNA sweeped the Nothern Province and parts of the East. However the biggest surprise is the BBS gains which managed to garner around enough votes to win national list seats however did not win FTP Electorates. Disappointing Night for Prime Minister Wickremasinge while a astounding result for Former President Rajapaksa and his Supporters. Thats all there is. Hope you are enjoying the election day.

  • 5
    1

    What Sirisena did with his Secretaries and Exec Committee borders on ‘dictatorship’. There seems to be a genuine reason for this, but he timed it well as the Courts are closed for next two weeks. The Secretaries have the power to nominate the National MPs. UNP can form a government with the open support of the TNA and quiet support of the JVP. Few interesting days ahead.

    Hope, Ranil forms a government with a small cabinet. Also, he throws all idiots out of the diplomatic and armed services.

  • 0
    1

    All are worthy of consideration with speculative numbers, except for :

    “Both Rajapaksa-loyalists and Sirisena-loyalists of the UPFA are working to undermine each other’s candidates. This is likely to reduce the coalition’s winning chances. This could, moreover, give a free run to Wickremesinghe’s coalition particularly with his added attraction of national government.”

    This bit of optimistic equivocation won’t amend the numbers a bit. Other side also has attraction for national government. If the other side has a lesser liking of a 10%-more of national government , the masses will be there to vote out deviation.

  • 4
    0

    What is this Indian guy doing on Colombo Telegraph?! SL Tamils are done with the TamBrahms of TN.. Get lost please.. We have to live with the Sinhalese and others on this island.. but we do not have to entertain the hyenas and vultures from India. r u not retired.. For all Sinhalese people, these guys (Hariharan, Swamy, etc) speak the hilly billy equivalent of Tamil. Please help SL Tamils assimilate as natives of SL so we can finally be done with India which funds both sides.. or so to speak..

    • 0
      1

      Sri Lankan Tamils need not assimilate with anyone, they are natives of the island, a separate nation and have lived in the island longer than most of the Sinhalese, like you who only arrived from South India a few centuries ago and are now baying for Tamil Blood. You are no Sri Lankan Tamil and don’t try to be our spokesman. Please change your name Sri Lankan Tamils generally spell your name as Vettivel and not Vetri Vel. Very Indian

      • 2
        0

        Paul

        Does vetti mean unemployed or a person who idles away his/her time? Sorry my knowledge of Tamil is limited to watching Tamil films.

        • 0
          0

          ற் ṭṟ pronounced as by Tamils in Tamil Nadu is wrong.

          ற —

          1. ற, ற்= ṟ (Hard or trilled r), when alone.

          2. ற்ற ṟṟ, hard tt as in English word cattle, when doubled

          3. கன்று kaṉṟu (to be pronounced as kaṉdu by Ceylon Tamils, Southern Tamil Nadu Tamils).(simiilar to the English word ca”nd”le”)d soft t), when accompanying ‘ṉ’. not as “ṇḍ”

          வெட்டி (veṭṭi), வெற்றி (veṟṟi=Vetti as in English word cattle) are different.

          However corruption of padaṟṟam (pattam)into padaṭṭam is permitted in Tamil. In Telugu doubled ṟṟ is pronounced as ṟṟ only not as ṭṭ. In Malayalam ṟṟ is pronounced as tt.

          • 0
            0

            small correction

            However corruption of பதற்றம் (padaṟṟam=padattam) into பதட்டம் padaṭṭam) is permitted in Tamil. In Telugu doubled ṟṟ (ఱ్ఱ్) is pronounced as ṟṟ only not as ṭṭ. In Malayalam ṟṟ (റ്റ്) is pronounced as tt.

            • 1
              0

              ravivararo

              Thanks for your note.

  • 3
    0

    Indians NEED SL to become/remain dependant on India.. They are neither for SL Tamils or Sinhalese but for their own self interests. SLs beware… The way the caste system works in India is different than the way it works in SL. These guys have a pathological need to have AT LEAST one other person under their boots.. SL Tamils stay within their community for cultural reasons and nothing more.. But these guys actively seek out others so as to feel superior to them.. This is the biggest cultural difference between India and SL, we can thank Buddha and our diversity despite proximity for that.. Please go away Hariharan.. why are you interested in SL when you are never gonna live in SL?! Like I said b4, SL should have been situated in the Caribbeans not next to still culturally DEVELOPING India. Please go see the state of the streets in 95% of Indian cities for proof. Please blog about your nativity problems Mr. Hariharan.

  • 6
    0

    According to the results so far the question is , who do the people want ?
    To me it is clear that MR is the most popular politician in the country .
    It is also clear that the people do not want Ranil.

    But the opposite of the peoples wish will happen.

    This is Sri Lanka for you.

  • 0
    0

    shit looks like exit poll might be right

  • 0
    1

    Once MARA fades away in future what’s on the earth are we going to comment and fight about in CT ? ‘__’

    Drashani Ratnawalli-plan for long haul on Yakka & Nagas in between bit abt MARA
    Malinda S. – Keep on drumming about if and buts and what if’s centered on MARA
    Dayan J. – Write any shit ppl will love to comment on them
    Cannot forget Mr. Izzath H. too(though I have no idea what he will write about)

    And then with Amare,KAS,Native, Leela, Jimy Boi to name few and countless others including me (if time permits) we will try n make CT still a place to meet and greet each other and have bit of fun.

    Hopefully in few months time we can get in to the grove on all the cases against all the sons of (u know what – as it got edited out last time even with sapces and special characters, some times CT moderator is so unfair u should learn to be more liberal man! or women :) ! )

    Well Citizens of Ahshik land good times ahead ! we can change the name officially to Sri Lanka

    • 3
      0

      Afzal

      I am cautiously optimistic.

      The despots is still lurking in the bush, horse trading would have started early in the morning.

      Whatever happened since January has been cosmetic in nature and the country as a whole needs to look at itself. Can it give a philosophical meaning to its existence?

      • 0
        1

        Native,

        I agree and fully aware of what could happen. But I am optimistic too that shit which happen during MARA era will not happen.

        Rather than trading I assume there will be some mutual agreements from SLFP to support Ranil W. Government (it’s already announced he will form a coalition government) Then again I would put in to mix one para from President where he said he will help Sandanaya to form Government if they come close (could that be a Bolayak for MARA supporters given the situation at that time?) I don’t know

        but Kandy, Colombo and Gmppaha yet to be announced I think UNF should at least just cross the line.

        Biggest losers I guess is JVP for all their efforts people are clearly only listening to their words nothing much has translated to votes. If they are smart they should try hard to get in to government and beg for few ministerial post, show what they can do if not they should just hang up. There were enough elections now and enough time for them to prove their message is accepted by masses. It has been rejected time and again.

        Wonder what the Cobra party ppl will say now ? more than that what will they do after this ? where will they go ? This also shows BBS was backed with fund and people by MARA/GORA. Without them BBS is nothing. Sri Lankans overall have been wise, it’s pity that bit too many Baiyo are found in Sri Lanka than what I anticipated.

  • 0
    1

    Apologies I forgot the mention all the names of the comment guys/girls I have listed they are ELDERS of the trade – Respect !

  • 1
    0

    listen broom stick moustache

    3 if or 30 if s is non of your business ..66% of your Indians are shitting in open air toilet daily do something immediately our worry is what will happen if a strong wind bring these dirts to SL and give us contaminate healthy citizens

    whatever happens in SL …WILL BE BAD FOR YOUR poverty India

    Greater China has already made her far sighted defense strategic plans no change in this ….

    What will happen is Greater China will increase her efforts to increase here influence in SL and sure they will increase the number of Tamil speaking Chinese Diplomatic staffs at their proposed diplomatic mission in Chennai .

    SL has become a playground for Greater China and the West and wait for fireworks which will hit first your dirty ..poverty Tamil Nadu

    SL Tamils will never ever support poverty India ..remember this..

    India is like a empty stomach fakir with loin cloth calling himself a muscleman ….

    Cheers

  • 0
    0

    Hari, India is a disgrace. Back off. We do not want your Mahinda and your Modi type politics. Both of them are racist anti minority thugs.

    • 0
      0

      “”Both of them are racist anti minority thugs. “

      if not they are corrupt to the core.

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