The Sunday Leader

A Mudslide For The UNP

  • A Landslide For The Government

By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema

With election results all but final it is now evident that the opposition UNP has been annihilated at the polls.
Even by the ailing party’s low standards the UNP’s margin of defeat was extreme.

At the time of going to press, the UNP had polled just 2,336,691 votes, which is 29.43% of the total votes. Which means the opposition will barely be represented in parliament.

However, UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday (10) said the government has not received its much-touted mandate as 2.6 million people have refrained from voting while another 3.1 million have voted against the government.

According to Wickremesinghe, a large number of people did not vote, as they did not have faith in the current system and the holding of a free and fair election. “They thought their votes would be stolen and believed it best to stay at home.”

He further noted that the opposition would now reorganize itself to play an active role outside of parliament. “The main function of the opposition is to ensure democracy and the campaign won’t be restricted to parliament.”

UNP Deputy Leader Karu Jayasuriya, when asked about the party’s future given its continuous electoral defeats said that UNP members would put our heads together and keep working together as usual. “It’s not the end of the world,” he said, despite only barely holding his own seat.

Senior Presidential Advisor Basil Rajapaksa speaking to The Sunday Leader said while the government successfully achieved its target in relation to voter turn out, the opposition failed to get its supporters to cast their votes. He said the opposition needed to respect the people’s mandate and support the government in its development endeavors.

So dismal is the state of the opposition at present that Rajapaksa even went on to offer encouragement and advice to the UNP.

His advise to Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe was not to depend on others, but to stand on his own two feet to become a strong leader. “After all, he is the leader of the oldest political party in the country and it is time that he consolidated his strength.”

Wickremesinghe also said yesterday (10) that he would continue to be the UNP Leader and only step down when he has to. “People have said they have no faith in the system. No one has said they don’t have faith in me,” he said.

When asked if the party was looking at grooming a second leadership, Wickremesinghe said the second leadership has to come up by acceptance and it was up to the party to decide.

However, while government spokesmen are keen to present the results as proof of the UPFA’s overwhelming popularity, the real story of this election is that of the extreme apathy which saw just 50% of the electorate make the effort to cast their vote.

Such low turn out damages the credibility of the entire election process and calls into question the state of democracy in the island.

Political analyst Dr. Pakiasothy Saravanamuttu pointed out that the composition of the seventh parliament, with a vast majority of seats occupied by the government, would preclude any possibility of a functioning democracy.  Especially when so much authority is already vested in the hands of the Executive.

“This is not good as there need to be checks and balances,” he said.

However, he noted that although the opposition would be vastly diminished in the elections the quality of the members in parliament is what matters most.

“Despite low numbers, if you have quality members in parliament the task of the opposition could be fulfilled.

A lot of responsibility now lies with the opposition members of parliament,” Dr. Saravanamuttu said.
The breakdown of voter participation began with an opposition campaign that was negative, demotivating and destructive.

JVP General Secretary Tilvin Silva said the people have got fed up with the corrupt elections held by this government, while the UNP says the low voter turn out is due to an overdose of elections by this government.
Election monitor and CAFFE Spokesperson Keerthi Tennakoon said the opposition has a key role in ensuring a high voter turn out at elections and this time around; it had failed in this task.

“The opposition campaign was lackadaisical and lackluster reducing enthusiasm among the people. We did not see the opposition playing its role. Given this scenario, there was no way to expect a high voter turn out,” he said.

Tennakoon also observed that the people’s loss of faith in the ballot had also played a role demotivating people to cast their votes.

Basil Rajapaksa told The Sunday Leader that the Opposition Leader should not resort to various gimmicks like changing party symbols or presenting various new faces to come to power.
“They need to do politics to win the hearts and minds of the people,” he said.

184 Comments for “A Mudslide For The UNP”

  1. Milton Dayasena


  2. NonResident

    Yes, UNP on a mudslide.

    Ranil on a space ship hovering in “Gagaland”

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