WHO’S AFRAID OF THE COMMON CANDIDATE?

5 August 2014 04:36 am - 1     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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An election result divulges the northern mind more than a thousand words spoken.The North voted overwhelmingly for the former Sri Lankan Army Commander as against the Commander-in-Chief at the last Presidential Election. Indeed queer and bizarre. That indicates the North will swing for ‘anybody but Mahinda Rajapaksa’- thrust TNA desire.

At the 2013 Provincial Council election 65% of the 719,477 registered voters puffed TNA to a sprawling vote of 78.8% of the total polled -- aggregating to 353,595 votes as against 82,838 (18.3%) for the Government. A handy majority of 270,659 can get enhanced if more voters trek to the polling booth at a Presidential Election - a likely possibility.

If the northern voting base enlarges, Mahinda Rajapaksa may have to start the count conceding 300,000 votes to the common candidate, which he needs to bridge with votes from the South to overcome this handicap. The East might add weight to the tally of the common candidate. This is surely a factor for the President to fear, mindful of the 2005 election when Mahinda Rajapaksa won with a thin majority because the LTTE imposed a prohibition on voting in the North; resulting towards his benefit.This time around Rajapaksa has provided a free vote - to his detriment.

The mind of the North is set to defeat Mahinda Rajapaksa, the man who restored their franchise,which they choose to exercise to exorcise him from the political arena. The common candidate is off to a flying start with the vote of minorities in the North/East. If the North - South divide becomes the theme, a satisfied South with its massive voter base can outrun the North and East



The mind of the North is set to defeat Mahinda Rajapaksa, the man who restored their franchise,which they choose to exercise to exorcise him from the political arena. The common candidate is off to a flying start with the vote of minorities in the North/East.

 If the North - South divide becomes the theme, a satisfied South with its massive voter base can outrun the North and East. In times of peace, satisfaction to the South comes from an improved personal economy ahead of any patriotic fervour; together they can make or unmake the next President especially if the cost of living factor gets over-heated.

Let’s state the obvious. It’s the UNP that will ultimately choose the common candidate - nominating their preferred candidate. Others in the opposition need to bow to the will of the UNP hierarchy – rump candidates listed on the ballot paper are mavericks running to satisfy their sponsors that provide the currency to attract the ‘spoiler’ vote.

In a presidential vote count the second choice on the ballot paper comes into reckoning if a candidate does not obtain the stipulated 50% of the vote. The spoilers enter the field, set up not to win but to subtract votes, from the Rajapaksa column. It might be counter-productive and may end earning the disenchanted UNP vote. In 2005 the JHU sent 10 members to Parliament picking the protest UNP vote. A Buddhist monk on the ballot paper may do a repeat performance to split the opposition vote.

The candidate to emerge as the strongest opposition contender at the Presidential elections 2015 would be the symbolic common candidate. Party politics is such that it will not permit the most popular common candidate to emerge. The proper procedure of reaching such consensus will be where the opposition sits together and throws popular names around, weighs the pluses and minuses and reaches consensus on the choice.

Nevertheless the remnants in the opposition will have to contend with the UNP that stands mightily tall to dwarf the entire opposition. The UNP is truly the only alternative -the others being mere by-standers. The choice reached will not be by consensus; yet, the phrase common candidate is a marketable myth that attracts the vote on the strength of a combine.

The common candidate is the prerogative of the UNP as of right, being the largest opposition force in Parliament as far as memory stretches, forfeited its right last time, as its nominee looked a lame duck on paper and a stronger alternative was in the market place dressed in military attire at a time war heroes were the pin-up boys. It backfired, maybe a UNP nominee would have done better.The main opposition party cannot afford to sacrifice a tilt at the Presidency successively and retain its credibility and functionality.

Though it may not be a decision arrived at by consensus: many in the opposition will gladly give the slot to the UNP; realistically, the only political party capable of defeating the government. The campaign will mount to a crescendo with a cry to oust the present government.

A few in the opposition may not want to propel Ranil Wickremesinghe as the common candidate but such a thrust would be overruled by the UNP which will have their way and rightly so. The common candidate will derive over 80% of his vote in the South from the traditional vote base of the UNP; irrespective of who the candidate is. The role of the opposition is to endorse officially the choice of the UNP hierarchy. The common candidate of the opposition will be showcased for public consumption but at a reality show -- it’s a decision of a few in the UNP hierarchy.

Karu Jayasuriya may be the preferred choice of the Sinhala Buddhist majority island-wide. However the UNP counts heavily on minority voters whose intention may be more to defeat Mahinda Rajapaksa than to place Ranil Wickremesinghe on a pedestal. Minorities are comfortable with the pluralistic Leader of the Opposition. Karu Jayasuriya notwithstanding his popularity with the unattached floating voter has a poser, having defected from the Opposition to hold a portfolio under President Rajapaksa -- that was reflected on receiving fewer votes than a popular television actress in the UNP preference list at the last election.

Karu Jayasuriya may not get a hearing if the party echelon decides otherwise. Ranil Wickremesinghe has stood firmly behind the UNP in its worst times.

Mahinda Rajapaksa’s preferred opponent is Ranil Wickremesinghe, expected to drop a few gaffes close to the election date to make state media misinterpret and give it maximum coverage. Ranil Wickremesinghe’s unimpeachable integrity stands in good stead and looks stronger than at the time he supported General Fonseka; yet he is a tired, tried candidate as against a third -term aspirant yet the most attractive face on the government benches. This shows the paucity of presidential material in local politics. A common candidate will fire at his best if the UNP can field a fresher face as the UPFA did when it introduced Chandrika Kumaranatunga.

If the common candidate succeeds at the election he would owe much to the contributions made by the TNA, NGOs and Western embassies. That is the call that Mahinda Rajapaksa will make to the electorate to return him. The President is heavily dependent on the majorities he earns in the South


If the common candidate succeeds at the election he would owe much to the contributions made by the TNA, NGOs and Western embassies. That is the call that Mahinda Rajapaksa will make to the electorate to return him. The President is heavily dependent on the majorities he earns in the South; winning the South by narrow majorities will not be sufficient, as he will not be earning much of the second choice vote. Most of it will reach his opponent.

The issues that arise at election time and the manner in which they are marketed are key factors. Who will set the pace for the issues that will fire the interest of the voters?

  Comments - 1

  • Crazy Coot Wednesday, 06 August 2014 02:43 AM

    Who else but the uncommon candidate?


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