A young Mahinda, poster down south, 2009.
I was reading this Guardian (yes, not the Telegraph) report on some Sri Lanka UN report and there was this at the bottom: “the popularity that President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who took power in 2005, won among the Sinhalese majority after the victory over the Tamil Tigers has faded”. Well, really? I mean, it’s possible, perhaps even likely, but are there any polls or other evidence of this decline?
I mean, it’s a bit of a leap to say:
Rocketing food prices and poor economic management have sapped the president’s popular support in rural areas, a key constituency. (Guardian)
Again, possible, but they should really show some evidence or cite someone. Mahinda won with 58% of the vote in the 2010 Presidential and his party won 60% in the 2010 Parliamentary. The SLFP also won 51% in this September’s Provincial vote, in mostly rural but not southern areas (North Central, Sabaragamuwa, Eastern). Everywhere besides the Eastern Province they were polling the usual 60%.
Now, it’s possible that there’s some other evidence or polls, but that would be a news story in itself. The Guardian is throwing it in there at the bottom, but I still don’t think there’s anything to back them up.
As crappy as the economic management is, the economy is still better than during the war. As crappy as the SLFP is, they’re still way better than the opposition. In fact, the only place the UNP is holding is urban Colombo, so I really don’t see Mahinda’s rural support dropping that much. Indeed, if Divineguma goes through there’ll be whole new tendrils of direct patronage running through the provinces, if he can just get rid of that pesky Supreme Court judge.