Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

e
d
i
t
o
r
i
a
l

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



this is my nation
UNP and its statistical acrobatics
The crucial minority vote

By virtue of Kiriella’s perverted sense of logic, if 80% of votes were cast - a high turnout, by any standards - and the ruling party obtained 60% of those votes, a convincing margin - he would still say that the Government obtained only 48% of vote and therefore, has no mandate!
If Kiriella counts all the votes that were not cast as anti-Government votes, the fact that the UNP was unable to get these voters to the polling booths to mark that cross on the ballot paper, is a stinging indictment on the Opposition.
Surely, it is time for the UNP to refrain from engaging in such statistical acrobatics and confront the fact that, they have been soundly defeated at this election. After all, with Kiriella’s own strange logic, that would mean the UNP’s share of the vote - 29% of the 63% of votes - is a mere 18%!

The most looked forward to Provincial poll of them all - the Western Provincial Council (WPC) election - was concluded last week, bringing in its wake, many lessons for the leading parties that entered the fray.

Even if the result of the election was a foregone conclusion, that did not dampen the enthusiasm of the poll, although, in the final analysis, it does appear as if there is voter fatigue, with only just 63% of those eligible casting their vote.
The peoples’ verdict would have surprised even the ruling United Peoples’ Freedom Alliance (UPFA), receiving a massive mandate of nearly 65% of the vote to win all of the electoral divisions, barring those in the city of Colombo.

The UPFA and President Mahinda Rajapaksa will feel that its decision to hold staggered PC elections has been vindicated. The challenge of the Opposition parties has dissipated with each poll, and has now all but disappeared.
The ruling party hoped for a snowballing effect, which has been achieved, and the stage is set for polls in the Uva and Southern Provinces, after which, the Alliance will go for the kill - the General and Presidential polls.

If there is any concern for the UPFA, it is that, it could not wrest the traditional bastions of the United National Party (UNP) in the city of Colombo. That alone may not be a worry, but a closer look at the voting pattern in the electorates it lost, shows that, it was trounced in three electoral divisions - Colombo North, Colombo Central and Colombo West, regions where the minority communities have a significant representation.

This should alert the Alliance that, while it is winning the war and winning the southern Sinhalese voter in the process, more should be done to gain the confidence of the minority communities.

This is of extreme significance at a Presidential poll because, as the North and East are now virtually liberated, free elections held in these regions will allow for a significant impact on the final outcome. In fact, this impact was seen in no small measure at the 2005 Presidential election, where the outcome was definitely influenced by the boycott of the poll, called for by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

As for the UNP, we have said before in these pages that, the only issue of significance for the party would be, to see whether it would be able to retain its vote base within the Colombo city. This it has done, but then, that is only small consolation for the country’s major Opposition party.

In the aftermath of the poll, we heard UNP spokesman Lakshman Kiriella quoting statistics to point out that, only 39% of the population supported the Government and that, as such, there was no sweeping mandate for the ruling party, because only 63% of votes were cast and that, the UPFA obtained only 64% of that vote.
By virtue of Kiriella’s perverted sense of logic, if 80% of votes were cast - a high turnout, by any standards - and the ruling party obtained 60% of those votes, a convincing margin - he would still say that the Government obtained only 48% of vote and therefore, has no mandate!

If Kiriella counts all the votes that were not cast as anti-Government votes, the fact that the UNP was unable to get these voters to the polling booths to mark that cross on the ballot paper, is a stinging indictment on the Opposition.

Surely, it is time for the UNP to refrain from engaging in such statistical acrobatics and confront the fact that, they have been soundly defeated at this election. After all, with Kiriella’s own strange logic, that would mean the UNP’s share of the vote - 29% of the 63% of votes - is a mere 18%!

It is time then, for the UNP to regroup. But, we wait with bated breath, for the next round of internal bickering within the party, where someone will claim that, the defeat was due to Ranil Wickremasinghe’s inefficiency, and call for his ouster. Such are the travails of the UNP these days, and the President offers them little respite, calling for election after election.

The share of the vote obtained by the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) at this election is a mere 2.4%. Although this appears to be surprising, for a party which elected 39 members at the last Parliamentary election, it shouldn’t be so.
The JVP’s share of the Sri Lankan vote has, at the best of times, been 10% of the vote or less. At the 2004 Parliamentary elections, they cleverly manipulated the agreement with the Alliance and included only three names in each electoral district. As a result, all their preferences accumulated to three candidates, while votes of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) were split among dozens of candidates.

It was a clever electoral sleight of hand, and the SLFP fell for it. But now, as the JVP has opted to go it alone once again, it has found itself swimming against the tide. The successful prosecution of the war, by the government - one of the main slogans of the JVP - has not helped its cause.

Although there is no way to gauge support for the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), the performance of one of its candidates, Udaya Gammanpila will bring solace to the party. But, this could be more a vote for Gammanpila, who, despite his maverick views, was one of the few ‘clean’ politicians in the fray, than for the JHU, so, it couldn’t afford to be complacent as well.

The Government has already announced that, polls for the Southern and Uva PCs will be held in due course. We can safely predict the same outcome in these regions, except, maybe in the margins of the victories for the UPFA!

 

 

 

 

 


HOME

Skip to top