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Thursday 20 October 2011

Why UNP lost Colombo Municipal Council

It is the UNP that captured the most number of “seats” in the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) but the fact remains that though the party polled more votes than any other party it could not win at least 50% of the valid vote, forgetting such exotic figures as two third majority 65% of the vote etc. The UNP has been able to secure 24 “seats” out of 53, and even Tissa Attanayake the grand theorist of the party would admit that 24 is less than half of 53. The General Secretary of the UNP is on record saying that the UNP has commenced its journey towards victory in the Parliament having captured the Colombo Municipal Council. He has apparently said that it is the end of journey for the UPFA but what he has forgotten is that it is not even an “ambalama” in the downward journey of the UNP under non Sinhala Buddhist leadership in a cultural sense. The UNP as they say has been able to come to power in a hung council both in English and Sinhala idioms. In Sinhala they have a “hun” (hum) or skin council without flesh and the fact that Ranil Wickremesinghe had to end abruptly the press conference held to announce the names of the Mayor and Deputy Mayor elect shows that there are more internal problems that the party has to face than what Tissa Attanayake is prepared to accept. If the UNP does not take into account the changes that Sri Lankan polity has gone through as a result of the “Jathika Vyaparaya” during the last three decades in spite of the cultural changes that J R Jayawardhane was able to carry out, it will lose even the skin in time to come.

The local government elections held in three phases due to various reasons have established the SLFP led coalition as the ruling party of Sri Lanka and the other parties are being reduced to “also ran” status. I am not bothered of western type democracy which is nothing but hypocrisy, and it is time that we evolved our own methods of government without resorting to so called multiparty or dual party political systems. The enemies and also those who pretend to be friends of the SLFP are busy with pontificating Milinda Moragoda that he lost because the SLFP did not consider the so called multi ethnic factor and that the party should take multiethnic character of the Sri Lankan polity. These so called political scientists and political analysts who at one stage shouted from roof tops that the LTTE could not be defeated militarily and that no party in Sri Lanka could obtain a two third majority with the multiethnic character and the proportional system introduced by J R Jayawardhane are now being forced to admit that the SLFP polls around 65% of the vote in many electorates.

It is to the credit of the Jathika Vyaparaya that it was this movement which first said that the LTTE could and should be defeated after analyzing the role of the western forces as well as the Indian Intelligence Unit RAW, if not the Indian government, going against the wisdom of the political scientists, the political analysts, the military analysts who could be compared with those who coach others to swim without getting into the water, so called conflict analysts etc. The wisdom they wanted to pour on us was what they had obtained from the western “experts” and from the very beginning the Jathika Vyaparaya of the last three decades was not bothered of this expert opinion. The Jathika Vyaparaya was also able to show that if the SLFP or a SLFP led coalition could poll about 80% of the Sinhala vote it could obtain the two third majority which was “shown” to be elusive by the pundits who had their training at Peradeniya and other such western places. Of course the Jathika Vyaparaya had taken into consideration not only the demography of Sri Lanka but also other factors such “bonus seats” introduced by J R Jayawardhane in order to make the UNP the ruling party of Sri Lanka for ever forgetting the “anicca’ that he would have read without coming out of the Christian culture he was more familiar with.

The SLFP has now consolidated its power base among the Sinhalas especially the Sinhala Buddhists and even with people such as Sajith Premadasa and Karu Jayasuriya who are only pseudo nationalists the party has no future. People such as Dayasiri Jayasekera who was an undergraduate of the University of Colombo while I was teaching there and debating with so called political analysts who do not analyze but only describe, would have a better chance but I am not concerned with the political systems introduced by the British in the name of the democracy. My concern with the SLFP is also limited and I am only using this experience to work out a political system without political parties. The SLFP is a party driven by the people and unlike other political parties, whose policies are decided according to western theories whether liberal or Marxist, it is amenable to the public opinion and in that sense it is the “political party” of the Jathikathva though there is a contradiction here as there cannot be political parties in Jathikathva. However, contradictions are essential except in dry Aristotelian systems and we are experiencing a transitional period in the words of S W R D Bandaranaike that could prolong for another fifty years or so.

The SLFP having consolidated its position among the Sinhala people is now in the process of building confidence among the Tamils and Muslims. The CMC election result is a case in point. It is very well known that the Sinhalas are in a minority in the Colombo Municipality and everybody expected a walkover for the UNP. The Sinhalas do not constitute more than 35% of the population in the municipal areas and even if 80% of them voted for the SLFP led UPFA it would not have polled more than 28% of the vote, if some Tamils and Muslims had not voted for the coalition. In Colombo Municipal area there are many Colombians, if I may use that very apt word introduced by my friend Gomin Dayasiri, among the Sinhalas as well, and it is unlikely that they voted for the UPFA. Thus the 32.5% of the valid vote polled by the UPFA indicates that at least some Tamils and Muslims are now voting for the UPFA and at the same time UNP is losing them.

As the political pundits say traditionally the “minorities” have voted for the UNP but the CMC election results indicate that they are now turning away from the UNP. That is the reason for the defeat of the UNP at the CMC elections and even if one adds the 11.07% of the vote polled by Mano Ganeshan, the combined UNP - DPF vote comes to 54.08% which is not very impressive to say the least, having taking into consideration the Colombian factor. The SLFP led coalition having consolidated its position among the Sinhala Buddhists first, and then the Sinhala Christians has now begun to attract the Tamils and the Muslims. The ordinary Tamils and Muslims cannot expect anything from the UNP and they are beginning to realize that their future is among the Sinhalas and not among the racist Tamil leaders. The election results are a massage to the TNA as well as the western pundits who come to Sri Lanka meet a few Colombians and write unlearned thesis on the so called ethnic problem, post conflict Sri Lanka, post war situation etc., and of course to the Sri Lankan political pundits who advise Milinda Moragoda to consider the so called ethnic factor. It is a lesson to the Sinhalas as well, as the Tamils and the Muslims would unite with the Sinhalas only if the Sinhalas are united first. The SLFP led UPFA has been able to unite more than 75% of the Sinhalas around the betel leaf which symbolizes nationality at elections, and the CMC is not the beginning of the end as Tissa Attanayake envisages for the UPFA but it is not even an “ambalama” in the downslide motion of the UNP.

Copyright Prof. Nalin De Silva