an endangered species
This Presidential election will be the first time in Sri Lanka’s history that the UNP does not field a candidate. There are Achchi’s who bleed green and just look for the elephant symbol, but now they’ll have to check the swan (which Sarath is running under). Most of the UNP brains left years ago (Milinda, GL Peiris) and the brawn just checked out (SB). The party has a leader, but one incapable of actually contesting. I am OK with Sarath running, but I’m really sad for the UNP
The UNP was the party at independence. When SWRD Bandaranaike didn’t get his due only then did he split off and found the Sri Lanka Freedom Party. However, the UNP’s charter thing is all about freedom from poverty, hunger, etc, so it reads almost like an SLFP manifesto. The SLFP has minimal ideological content, once being dynastic and now, well, bombastic. The UNP at least had content in terms of a a pro-business, open economy kinda outlook.
I like the UNP, but they don’t really exist anymore. I assume they’ll come back, but they are just falling further and further. I spoke to a few UNP guys and they seem to think that they’re somehow controlling the Sarath campaign, and presumably then the President. Ranil is out there saying that once the Presidency is abolished he’ll be PM. I find this both naive and weak. On one count, there are no consolation prizes in politics. On another, I think if I vote for Sarath I’d like to get Sarath and not some electoral skull-duggery.
Sadly, this has happened before. The UNP messed up some paperwork during the Colombo mayoral elections and couldn’t get on their ballot. Instead they struck a deal with the party running under the Spectacles symbol. UNP voters would vote for the Spec, and their candidate (a trishaw driver) would step down. So they did, the UNP won and, whaddya know, the Spectacles didn’t give up power. And we still have that trishaw driver as a mayor. Not that there’s anything wrong with a trishaw driver mayor, but they should win on their own merits, and not the UNPs stupidity.
I don’t think this convoluted deal is going to save the current UNP, and I don’t think it should. If the UNP wants to return as a party it needs to do what political parties do and restart and rebuild itself, with new people. All the backroom deals won’t get the party anything but screwed and its supporters anything but demoralized. I like the UNP and I like Ranil but it should never have come to this. The UNP should have restarted and rebuilt four years ago. Now they’re at a point where they can’t even field a candidate. The country’s oldest party is not running in the 2010 elections. Instead they’re telling their supporters to vote for someone else. That’s really kind of sad.