So, the dust has settled and the results are in, including the preferential votes. The chairs are set and, for the most part, we know who’s sitting in them. So this election, who were the winners and losers?
Sri Lankan voters have been called dumb (by Sri Lankans) and many international media/people want to file us under basket-case/dictatorship, but we do seem capable of governing ourselves.
Voting in Sri Lanka is actually a complicated process to understand, but over 70% of us do it on the reg, and we accept the results even when we don’t agree with them. We are a healthy democracy, which is nice.
Ranil still runs the UNP like a dictatorship, or at least a private company. It is possible that the UNP would have been healthier had he resigned after one of his previous 29 losses and let the party regenerate.
The SLFP is in worse shape, torn between its angels and demons in Maithri and Mahinda. Right now it’s not actually clear who’s in charge, or what they’re in charge of.
After 11 years in the wilderness, Ranil has got his old job back. He’s also Prime Minister under an SLFP boss, just like in the old days.
Mahinda has been rejected twice in a year, which must sting. The second time around he couldn’t use state resources or intimidate people and he got hammered with negative press, most of it true.
The TNA got 515,000 votes and 16 seats, which is a lot, mainly because they’re geographically focused. They’re still in a tough spot, too small to implement change alone but under significant political pressure not to work with anyone. They could be kingmakers though.
The JVP got more votes than the TNA, 544,000, but only got 6 seats (4+2 National List). Sads. Notably, Sunil Handunhetti and Lal Kantha are now out. This is because the JVPs votes are spread out and it’s hard to win seats. They’re one of the more internally democratic and creative parties, but no place to sit.
The Worst Of The SLFP
Dubious non-SLFPers like Wimal Weerawansa and Udaya Gammanpilla also got in while sinking the party overall. People complain about the actress Geetha getting in but, in context, she’s got her O/Levels and she’s not a criminal; she’s better than average.
The Less Worst Of The SLFP
Smarter/better elements like Mahinda Samarasinghe and a lot of not exceptionally bad people lost. A lot of people that would have supported President Sirisena are out.
On the plus side, exceptionally bad person S.B. Dissanayake is out and Duminda Silva, Mervyn Silva and Sajiv Vaas were never nominated. For a full list of of losers see Derana.
In August 2014, Harin Fernando resigned as an MP to contest in the Uva Provincial Council. That near victory was the first crack in the Rajapaksa armor that has now fully fallen. Now he’s back in Parliament one year later, in government. He took a risk when no one saw that coming.
Field Marshal Fonseka put his neck out to run for President in 2010 and ended up in jail for his troubles. He ran under his own party this election but couldn’t secure a single seat, not even for himself. At least he’s got his pension back.
The March 12 Movement
This group managed to get all the party leaders to sign a document calling for decent, non-criminal candidates (though many were still nominated) and they helped push the idea of, well, basic standards into the public consciousness, largely through a street level signature campaign. This was the first election where you could publicly care about ethics and morality without being considered naive.
The racist and frankly embarrassing to Buddhists BBS (running as the BJP) didn’t win anything. They got about 20,000 votes islandwide, which is still 20,000 racists too many, but they ran into the wall of reality and fell flat. As much noise as they make in the media, they are basically trolls (as in Internet trolls) and they were exposed as such. They even ran under a snake symbol, which was apt.
By my count (scanning names, not official), there are
only 8 women 11 (I’ve been told, can’t find a count) in the 15th Parliament. Hirunika Premachandra, Sudarshani Fernandopulle, Sumeda Jayasena, Vijayakala Maheswaran, Geetha Kumarasinghe, Pavithra Wanniarachchi, Thalatha Athukorala, and Sriyani Wijewickrama. Rosy did not get in, which is really too bad.
If my count is right that’s only 3.5%, women’s worst showing in the Republican era. Check my numbers (and National List may add a few), but it’s definitely unfair to 52% of the population. I think 33% of nominations should legally be allocated to women until things balance. Parliament is a sausage fest and it makes for bad policy for all of us.
Racism, thankfully doesn’t seem to win elections anymore. There were times where it did, but this time it was just stupid and uncool. Mahinda’s admonitions that the UNP would divide the country fell on deaf ears, because it just doesn’t make sense and everyone knows that. People around him tried to vilify Christians (after already pissing off Tamils and Muslims) and it just hurt them. Minority votes mattered and Sinhala people had other issues on their minds.
Mahinda tried to blame his Presidential loss on the minorities, but he can’t do that this time. The country is more united than he thinks and racism doesn’t belong. Not that overt and structural racism doesn’t persist, it’s just not a viable election strategy anymore.
So that’s my list of winners and losers this election. Let me know if I missed out on anything.
Personally, I like the new Parliament but they’re obviously not my dream team. Still a bit of a testicle festival and still a bit dodgier than I’d like, but that’s the nature of democracy. Incremental change.
I am quite happy with our democracy and electoral system (shout out to Mahinda Deshapriya, Mako to his fans) and generally consider myself a winner too. I hope you feel like a winner too and if not, wait four years and play again.