The Sunday Leader

The Dawn Of A New Era


By R. Wijewardene

With the results of the 2010 General Election now all but final,  the outcome is clear.  The country has entered a new or is that a blue era.

The UPFA has emerged  as arguably the most powerful political force in the country’s history.  And the party now looks certain to command a two thirds majority of the seats in parliament.

The scale of the UPFA’s victory historically at least is matched only by J.R. Jayewardene’s victory in the 1977 General Election. However that election was held under the first past the post system.

What is extraordinary about the outcome of this election is that after 16 years of rule the   UPFA now looks stronger than ever. The blue party it seems can now look forward to effectively 20 years of consecutive rule.
Astoundingly the party seems to have made massive gains even in Jaffna and Nuwara Eliya, districts in which the UPFA fared badly during the presidential elections.

The map on  this page displays the overwhelming extent of the government’s victory.

The myth of the UNPs 40% solid voter base has finally been shattered with the party failing to secure more than 30% of the vote in any district.

The solid blue of the map is a clear indication of the scale of the UNP’s defeat.

But beyond and behind the government’s overwhelming victory lie dozens of stories.

In fact, the sea of blue displayed on the map hides the main story of the election which is not the government’s immense popularity but the peoples’ overwhelming apathy.  In reality  the map of election results should not be colored blue but a neutral white or perhaps a mourning black.

For the island’s people have for the most part given up on democracy. Voter turnout in the election barely registered 50%, the lowest figure in history.

This election will be remembered as a watershed in the country’s history not because of the government’s victory but because it marks the point where people finally lost faith in the democratic process.
While the map makes no indication of the low voter turnout it also contains telling blanks. Gaps where the Kandy and Trincomalee electorates should be. Violence and discrepancies in these districts have prevented final statements of results being released.  Violence, intimidation and malpractices therefore have marred yet another of the island’s general elections.

Beyond malpractices in Trincomalee and Kandy, the apparent increase in the number of UPFA votes polled in Jaffna, the Wanni and Batticaloa  hides the reality that thousands  of Tamil citizens were effectively denied their right to vote .
Buses supposed to ferry displaced northern voters  to the relevant polling booths  never appeared while supporters of the TNA and UNP suffered intimidation in every part of the north and east.
Turn out in Jaffna stood at an abysmal  20% — hardly enough  to be even vaguely  reflective of  northern Tamil opinion.
Such low turnout and such serious malpractices would, in a more democratic society, be reason enough  for the annulment of the polls in those areas if not island wide.

But in Sri Lanka of course the intimidation of Tamil voters is just par for the course.

While intimidation of northern voters goes someway to explaining the surge in the government’s popularity in the north and east it still does not account for the government’s impressive performance in Nuwara Eliya and other parts of the hill country where even during the presidential election, the opposition alliance enjoyed overwhelming support.

Why and how the hill country vote was won is one of this election’s most puzzling  mysteries.
Of course another story hidden by the government’s  enormous margin of victory is the caliber of  the men  – of course it is almost exclusively men, who have now been elected to run this country.

New faces in parliament will include Nishantha Muthuhettigama and the notorious Duminda Silva  while old favorites including  good old Dr. Mervyn will ensure that parliament continues to be a hot bed of entertainment if not seasoned intellectual discourse.

While many may rejoice at the departure of such veterans of corruption as Rohitha Bogollagama and Bandula Gunawardena, their replacements (mentioned above) might in fact prove even more adept at the dark arts of theft and thuggery  than the previous generation of UPFA parliamentarians.

But while it’s easy to criticise the government for the legions of thugs it employs and the abuses it has committed, there is no hiding the fact that the greatest failure in this election was not the government’s but the opposition’s.
The opposition  failed utterly to capitalise on the wave of support that clearly existed during the presidential election.  The UNP and JVP allowed themselves to become divided and then proved completely unable to mount effective campaigns.

Both the UNP and DNA totally failed to galvanise the population behind the issues of democracy, good governance and sound economic management that are vital at this post-war juncture.

Crucially they exuded nothing but defeatism and presenting nothing new to the voter  other than false promises, found themselves predictably at the wrong end of a stunning  defeat.

Of course there were strong showings by a handful of opposition candidates including  Sajith Premadasa in Hambantota, Ruwan Wijewardene in Gampaha, and of course the DNA’s Sarath Fonseka  who in the face of overwhelming odds managed to win their seats.

However despite a few isolated  successes, the opposition’s failure in this election was complete and unprecedented.

In fact the opposition’s failure is compounded by the fact that the low voter turn-out reveals that support for the government was anything but solid.

It is clear that a majority of voters were not content with the current state of affairs, however the UNP and DNA failed to capitalise on this discontent.

Instead   of voting for the opposition, the 50% of voters who out of dissatisfaction  with the country’s political process failed to cast their vote saw no reason to vote for the opposition parties .  This was  primarily because the opposition failed to provide a real alternative to the government   and   had become as far as most voters could see part of the same stagnant system.

However while the opposition has lost this election by a massive  margin, the real losers in this poll are as ever the ordinary  people of this county.

The island’s 20 million citizens have now lost any hope of seeing the fundamental   changes this country needs to realise its true post war potential.

With the government now secure in  parliament, fundamental legislative change is out of the question.
That  means  the devolution sought by the country’s  minorities  will not materialise, nor  will  quotas for women in parliament, or the 17th Amendment to the Constitution. Any chance of an effective  Right to Information Act has also vanished.

Ultimately what the overwhelmingly blue map on this page indicates is stasis, the entrenchment of the current system  and the sure growth of the same nepotistic and  venal power structure  that have supported the current  regime during its  past years in power.

Which leaves us with the final story of this election;  That of a dynasty that has come from relative obscurity  to eclipse the Bandaranaikes  / Senanayakes etc.  to  become the pre-eminent  political family of Sri Lanka’s recent history.

With Namal Rajapaksa receiving a  huge number of preference votes in the south  it  looks  like the government is successfully  grooming a third generation of Rajapaksa  leadership.  Leadership  which given the island’s present political situation  stands every chance of taking power in a county which may as well be renamed Rajapakistan.

28 Comments for “The Dawn Of A New Era”

  1. Uditha J.

    Uditha J. says:
    April 11, 2010 at 1:49 am
    NEWS FLASH-
    President announces the cabinet to the Chinese media first, due to the friendship between 2 countries

    Priminister- NO DOOR KIN
    Speaker – PEN DEK
    Minister of Defence- SUNE SUNG
    Minister of Employment- KALE KAN
    Minister of Finance- HINGA KAN
    Minister of Sports- PING PONG
    Minister of health- MARU SIRA
    Minister of Education- COPY KARAW
    Minister of Law and Order- JARAWA KAN
    Minister of National Integration- MARA PIYAW
    Minister of Religious Affairs- DEIIYOO SAKKI
    Minister of Foreign Affairs- ELLANG KAN
    Minister of Tourism- PALAYANG BANG
    Minister of Livestock- HIVA LEK
    Minister of culture- SAMA YANG
    Minster of Environment- SUNU VISUNU
    Minister of womens affairs – Miss HELU WEN

    Sri Lanka is in good hands !

    • citizen silva

      L M A O…HEHEHE…keep em rolling bro…after all…we only have each other to keep our hopes alive…many thanks

    • adrian

      the voter turn out was 56% not 50%.

      the voter turn out in the last USA presidential election was 63% 2008 .
      it was a record high.

      Average voter turnout in USA is about 54%
      ‘ Is democracy dead in America?’

      Average voter turnout in India is 58%.

      • gona

        the point is that so many have given up on democracy a statis tic which is correct for amerca an india is not necessarily an indicator for the S>L situ

      • Kannan

        Ok you are saying the average voter turnout in USA and India were 54% and 58% respectively, But it has not been the case of Sri Lanka, The turn out in Presidential election was more than 80%. The people had a clear vision for a Change, But that confidance is gone now. They know very well their votes have been abused. So they dont want to vote anymore. This shows eventhough UPFA has won 50% of of Sri Lankans dont believe them. An arbitory win NOT a mass mandate???

      • Gamunu

        Adrian, your stupidity shows from your argument.

    • KiriTopiya

      White van?

  2. Sunil

    “Both the UNP and DNA totally failed to galvanise the population behind the issues of democracy, good governance and sound economic management that are vital at this post-war juncture.”

    Well we lived in this country for 60 years and very well remember the past history of JVP and UNP. That is why people ignored the cry over corruption, good governance and democracy.

    • Kannan

      Dont say like that, We dont need to talk about JVP here, because they never came to power, But UNP has done a lot to this country, UNP was the most popular party and has governed this country more than anyone, and developed this country from the grass roots, dont be ungreateful?

  3. kseneviratne

    Pl e-mail to the above

  4. KiriTopiya

    As they say in Amerika, the UNP got an asswhupping AGAIN.

  5. Dilshan

    only 53% of the whole Eelam/Hela population voted to this evil Singheela govt.

  6. Tamil

    Now the majority is starting to understand that the democracy isn’t working in Sri Lanka. 1981 District Concil election was a watershed for Jaffna people. our library was burndown by ministerial thugs sent by none other than the head of thugs as part of election related violence. Minority who lost faith in democracy then took up the arms, rest is history.

    • Tamil

      In the 1977 General election, the last free and fair election NorthEast has seen, people there voted with more than 2/3 majority for TULF which contested on the manifesto demanding separate state. Of course it is history that the majority in the rest of the country will not listen to democratic voice of the majority of NorthEast.

  7. LankaLiar

    That is why we say Lanka is better than America. we sent a man to moon in a white van. Can America do that. Keep the LIEon flag flying high guy . Keep up our culture too thuggery and our language Lying Lang

  8. sally

    Finally………..whether we like it or not…….. Sri Lanka will have to face another DARK ERA of 7 years……..of thuggerism, Roudism, Curruption, Abduction, Rape , Murder, Supressing, dissapearances, Political revange, Injustice, Overuling and Poverty?

    SRI LANKANS ARE ON THE COURSE OF A CURSE?

  9. Orpheus Perera

    What were the highest voters turn out in Sri Lanka for the last 60 years? I assume it is around 60%. During that period UNP always had the highest number of votes. JR changed the system to make sure that UNP always wins. But it did not happen. Almost all voters who decided to not to use their civil rights, were UNP voters (allow few for those who were holidaying abroad or became too sick to travel on the day), who would never vote anybody else. They did not want to vote Ranil. SO they stayed at home. MR should have held a referendum, instead of the elections like what JR did in 83/84 have zero election violence. Arjuna should remember what happened to his family home in Udugampola when UNP won in 1977. Devolution could lead to division which will lead to racial hatred and border wars.

    • Gamunu

      Perera, Usually atleast 70% people casted their votes in Presidential or Palimentary election. This time it is just 50%. Mahinda only got 32% overall this time. Therefore, he is not the president of most of the people. 68% rejected him.

  10. Kadalay

    If a man like Mervyn can muster 150K votes in Gampaha then Prabhakaran could have done even better in the North had he lived to contest the elections.

  11. [...] Jaffna and, while I would hesitate to describe Mr Wijewardene’s claim that the government made ‘massive gains even in Jaffna and Nuwara Eliya’ as a deliberate lie, the alternative explanation is that the boy needs a course in critical [...]

  12. Sri Lankan

    Officially, UFPA has ruled 16 years. But the first 11-12 years under Chandrika was more like a continuation of the UNP rule. Chandrika’s stance was more liberal than the typical conservative UFPA/SLFP. I would consider only the last 5-6 years as the real UFPA rule.

  13. ABDUL

    SRI LANKA IS GOING BANANAS

  14. Banda Malli

    The “Blue era” was started from Aprial 8 th election and Mahinda and his Nil Balakaya started “Blue era” with raping a women age 32 who was supporter of DNP. Earlier Mahinda sold Russian and Chinese prostitutes to Parliament ministers to keep the power according to Dulles. Currently, Mahinda and gang have nearly 2/3 power and they started raping women around the country. Now, people have to face new challenge to protect their wives and daughters from “Nil Balakaya”

  15. Gamunu

    Mahinda won the 2005 presidential election fraud by giving Money to LTTE. In 2010 Mahinda manipulate the election results and stole the presidency from Sarath Fonseka. This allegation was proved from this 2010 parliament election. Mahinda got only 4.7 million and if the 6 million was real in 2010 presidential election then Mahinda should get more than 6 million this time. Also, for the first time in history the preferential votes were also manipulated. Other wise how Basil Rajapaksha would get 425000 and Mervin Silva would get 150000.

  16. VINTAGE VOTER

    GAMUNU !!!!

    VERY GOOD ANALYSIS. OVER 6 MILLION WILL AGREE WITH YOUR COMMENTS. WELL. I CERTAINLY DO AGREE WITH EVERY LETTER !!!!!!!

  17. muzammil

    Voter turn out was poor because they were intimidated by the govt through its
    arrest of opposition candidate.Phase I elimination of LTTE.PhaseII,elimination
    of successful opposition.Rest are consequences.If creation of LTTE was to
    hinder UNP, then elimination was to facilitate its opponent.Guess who’s behind?Who’s benefitting most? Proper, unbiased analysis yet to surface.
    Let’s not forget that the unfolding episodes in our paradise are all full of
    jugglings and manipulations and not people’s genuine will.FORCES FROM
    OUTSIDE MAKE SPACES FOR THEIR AGENTS NEXT MOVE IN THE PARADISE.WE ARE ALL SIMPLY WATCHING HELPLESS TO REACT.WHAT’S
    LEFT FOR US IS “BAILAS” WE ARE GOOD AT.

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