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An Election that Created a New Propensity of Breaking the Traditional Power Exchange between Two Major Parties

Kamani Hettirarachchi

A general election is held to appoint representatives to rule a country for a certain time period. According to the Sri Lankan constitution the representatives who are appointed from an election can rule the country for 5 years. Sri Lanka People’s Front which competed under the symbol of a lotus bud has achieved an excellent victory and established their own government in present Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka People’s Front which was originated 4 years ago has established the present government and the Samagi Jana Balawegaya which was originated 4 months ago has become their opposition party. It is a new record in Sri Lankan election history after the freedom struggle.

The result of the election which was held on 5th August 2020 has strengthened the qualities of Sri Lankan representative democracy. The purpose of this article is to analyze it further. Thus it is important to go through the election result. (Refer to the chart.)

The overall result of the General Election 2020

    Political Party  Total Number of VotesNumber of Votes as a PercentageNumber of Seats wonNumber of members in parliament under national listTotal Number of Seats won
Sri Lanka People’s Front (SLPF)685369059’09]12817145
Samagi Jana Balawegaya277198023’90]470754
Tamil National Alliance (TNA)3271682’82]090110
National People’s Force4459583’84]020103
E P D P614610’53]0202
United National Party (UNP)2494352’15]0101
Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP)665790’57]01  —01
Ape jana Bala Pakshaya677580’58]0101
Akila Ilanke Tamil Congress (AITC)677660’58]010102
Thamil Malkkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP)676920’58]0101
Muslim National Alliance (MNA)559810’48]0101
Thamil Makkal Thesiya Kuttani (TMTK)513010’44] 0101
Ahila Ilankai Thamil Congress (AITC)433190’37]0101
National Congress392720’34]0101
Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC)344280’30]0101

Number of Registered Voters – 16263285″

Number of Declared Votes       – 12343309   75’89]

Number of Valid Votes          – 11598936   71’32]

Number of Rejected Votes     -744373    4’58]

The democracy of any country will be effective if people could have the right of being candidates at elections and the right of using their votes independently as they wish irrespective of the differences in caste, class or religion. It ensures the integrity and the development of a country.  Unfortunately, the political system of our country is not in such a situation. Even though we like or dislike it, political parties are established depending on the race of the citizens. Though there are some of the political parties which have been acting with a national responsibility without being based on a certain race, they also could be seen being partial to their races in certain instances. Therefore, it is difficult to discuss an election in Sri Lanka without discussing the behavior of Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim votes in elections. In our election politics, the caste system also plays an important role even though it is not being seen outwardly.

There are several similar reasons as well as dissimilar reasons for the victory or defeat of the above mentioned political parties. After analyzing them, it is clear that all the advantages of the election stand on the side of the Sri Lanka People’s Front (SLPF). The reasons can be listed out as follows; SLPF being in a victorious mentality after winning the local government election and the Presidential Election, the division of the United National Party (UNP), the weak governance of the prevailed ‘good governance’ government, not having a common ideology to be presented to the country even though they had a proper mechanism for good governance, the disparity between the president and prime minister, the Easter attack by Islamic extremists, the discussion based on the MCC agreement, the behavior of media and the support of institutes being advantageous to SLPF. The advantage of all these aspects was credited to the SLPF.

Furthermore, the attitude of the government towards the communities who rendered less support to the government is also important to the democracy and the future existence of the government. It is a responsibility of the government to behave in a way that they won’t feel any doubt or fear. The government and the other major political parties should have a mechanism to win the citizens instead of a mechanism which nurtures the political parties themselves based on a certain race or religion. Moreover, it is the responsibility of all the parties who are partial to democracy to protect all the political parties and leaders who walk on the path of democracy without considering their ethnic dependencies.

It is not healthy for a country to have a government with excessive power and a weak opposition party. Therefore the opposition party should also learn lessons through this defeat. There is a saying that ‘falling into a pit is good for the brain’. But the United National Party (UNP) and the Samagi Jana Balawegaya do not seem to have understood the fact. The message given to the United National Party (UNP) and its leader at the election is crystal clear. He could not understand that same reality from the party itself.  If the leader still could not understand that message, it is sorrowful. This is the first instance where the United National Party (UNP) had to be limited to only one member in parliament under the national list. Sometimes it might have been understood by the leader but he might not be willing to accept and act accordingly. Showing ignorance towards this situation is another unfortunate condition. The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and the United National Party (UNP) being the two major political parties in Sri Lanka have lost their rankings now. It is true that both of them held their branches high above the Sri Lankan politics like two giant trees.  Two new political parties originated from those major parties have conquered their places now.

Samagi Jana Balawegaya should show more maturity now. It is true that they won 47 seats in the parliament within a few months of its establishment. But if they only keep on cherishing the victory, it will not be healthy for the citizens and the democracy of the country. Therefore they have to wake up from that dream and walk on the real path. However, Samagi Jana Balawegaya has become a good gathering point for most of the minor ethnic political parties.

The country is contented with the behavior of the People’s Liberation Front (JVP) in recent politics by acting against fraud and corruption. It was the next main national party competed in the general election other than SLPF and UNP. The JVP directly interfered when different ethnic conflicts occurred in Sri Lanka. One best example is the conflict that emerged between Sinhalese and Muslims after the Easter attack. There the JVP directly addressed for national unity and contributed to calm down the tension in the country. However, the JVP has not received enough votes at the election relative to the positive reception they received for those actions. They should analyze their journey and the mandate depending on the number of votes and the seats they received at the recent election. The JVP should deeply concentrate on why their ideological power does not become votes at elections.

The number of rejected votes at the general election is 744373. It is 4.58% in percentage. This is a considerable percentage. It is a responsibility of everybody who loves democracy to find out the reason for it; whether it is because of disappointment or any other reason.

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The views and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Sri Lanka Press Institute.

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