The President and his government are eager to win the next General Elections
After the victory at the presidential election, the SLPP is on a winning path
The President is keen on governing the country with such an absolute majority after the next elections
The victory at the Presidential Elections is definitely a morale booster for the SLPP
The UNP crisis is unlikely to dissipate, though
The New Year dawned yesterday with fresh hopes and challenges for the Government. When President Gotabaya Rajapaksa hosted Local Government members representing Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) for dinner on December 28, he had a message for them.
As the closest political representatives of the people, they are naturally assigned key roles in electioneering. Now, the New Year is an election year with a snap General Election to be conducted by the end of April.
While thanking them for their effective role in victory at the Presidential Elections, the President requested the SLPP representatives of the local authorities to work with the same zest to ensure two-thirds in Parliament for the Government at the General Elections.
Now, the SLPP has secured the presidency for the next five years. It will now build on that vector to reach the fresh political aspirations- to take control of parliamentary power with a majority of two-thirds
After the victory at the presidential election, the SLPP is on a winning path. It will contest the parliamentary polls in a victorious mood. The party is certain of victory, but the real challenge is to obtain 150 seats in the 225-member Parliament or come near it.
The President is keen on governing the country with such an absolute majority after the next elections. He told the local authorities’ members that the 19th Amendment to the Constitution had posed obstacles in the discharge of duties aimed at strengthening and streamlining the public service. It can be reversed or altered only with a two-thirds approval by Parliament. As such, the President or his government for that matter is eager to win the next general election with an absolute margin, so that it can initiate constitutional changes. To win a two-thirds majority is not easy for any political party formation under present electoral system of Proportional Representation (PR).The 2010 General Elections can be cited as a good example to prove how the PR system has hamstrung any party from getting an absolute majority even when it is at the zenith in terms of popularity.
The 2010 General Elections were conducted at a time when the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) led by present Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa was still basking in the glory of the war victory. The military vanquishing of the LTTE propelled the then Government to unprecedented heights of popularity. Also, the UPFA went to polls after winning the presidency
Still, it fell short of six seats in the House to get a two –thirds in its own right.
It won the elections with 144 seats at the Parliamentary Elections, and it was the largest ever number of seats to be clinched by any party under the present electoral system which returns MPs to the Legislation in proportionate to the votes received by their parties at each respective electoral district.
Nevertheless, after the formation of the Government in 2010, the UPFA managed to secure the two-thirds majority in Parliament by roping in a few more MPs from the parties such as the United National Party (UNP) and the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC).
The 2010 General Elections were conducted at a time when the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) led by present Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa was still basking in the glory of the war victory
Now, the SLPP has secured the presidency for the next five years. It will now build on that vector to reach the fresh political aspirations- to take control of parliamentary power with a majority of two-thirds.
The SLPP has already embarked on the political project to secure a two-thirds at the General Elections. The encounter with the Local Government members was part of this project. The President made it a point to visit each table at the dinner party and exchange pleasantries with the Local Government members.
If the SLPP retains the same amount of votes it received at the Presidential Elections, it would easily secure around 120 seats. It has to improve on it further to reach close to 150 seats in the Legislature. The victory at the Presidential Elections is definitely a morale booster for the SLPP in realising the latest challenge.
Likewise, the main rival UNP is crippled by internal fighting for the leadership. If the UNP fails to get its act together before the General Elections, it would be an additional bonus for the SLPP.
The UNP crisis is unlikely to dissipate, though. Some of the senior UNP MPs who stand for MP Sajith Premadasa agitate for the formation of a different political front to contest the polls. But, Premadasa is not ready to break ranks with the party to cobble together such an alliance ahead of the polls.
Premadasa is reported to have indicated this to his close confidants in his recent encounters with them. His thinking is logical in this instance. He believes there isn’t sufficient time to form an alliance before the General Elections. President Rajapaksa is planning to dissolve Parliament by virtue of power vested with him by the Constitution during the first week of Parliament. If that is the case, the General Elections will be conducted by the end of April. Time is limited in between to undertake such a political exercise that involves meticulous work.
In the meantime, UNP MP Malik Samarawickrama is reported to have communicated to Premadasa that UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe is willing to have one-on-one talks with him on the current status of the party.
Talks, however, did not materialise as of yesterday. Asked about it, Samarawickrama told the Daily Mirror that such talks would take place soon. Besides, the UNP parliamentary group will also discuss developments today evening.
For the governing side, it is a challenge to win with a clear majority. But, for the UNP, it is a challenge to remain united.