It’s the morning after the election and things still aren’t entirely clear. I heard some crackers at 7:30 in the morning, but I think my neighbors were just tired of waiting.
The streets are quite empty the morning after. Shops are closed, business is slow. It’s like Avurudu, the nonagathaya, when no one does any work or goes out. In that case it’s because the Sun is moving astrological houses and you don’t want to jinx anything. In this case it’s because our government is up in the air.
I will say that this has been the most peaceful and calm election in my memory, possibly ever as far as I’ve heard. There was an actual demand for clean candidates from the public and civil society, and the Elections Commission and Police did their jobs (more accurately, were able to do their jobs). Four people did die, which is still really awful, but as far as Sri Lankan elections go this has been uncharacteristically free and fair.
But onto the result. The basic outlines seemed clear when I heard that Mahinda graciously conceded. Then, however, he seems to have thought ‘why start being gracious now?’ and unconceded. It looks like he was right the first time.
Right now they’re still not done counting but the UNP is about 250,000 votes ahead. This is without Colombo, where they’re leading by another 100,000. Factor in that none of the other parties will ally with Mahinda’s UPFA and there’s no way he’ll be Prime Minister. He’s also lost control of the party, but that’s another issue. Honestly, he’s too old for this shit.
The UNP is going to win. The weird thing is that this was telegraphed long in advance. No public polling showed a groundswell for Mahinda and I’m sure their internal polling said the same thing. He barely got nominations and his coalition was held together by duct tape. This isn’t hindsight being 20/20, we did a small election betting pool (no money though) among friends and no one predicted UPFA.
If the UNP gets (around) 98 seats or above, they can form a government on their own. They should get that, or close enough*. The JVP and TNA are also parties they can work with, so it won’t be an unstable government. Furthermore, if Sirisena consolidates control of the SLFP, it also won’t be opposed to the basic work of good governance, while still hopefully opposes the excesses of the UNP. We’ve elected our most functional and, I hope, voter-fearing government in a while.
UPDATE UPDATE: I did a rough calculation on the remaining districts. If percentages stay the same, the UNP will get
90 seats 94 seats with bonus seats (for winning four districts), the UPFA 83. After National List, the total would be around 110/95. Almost a majority, but they still need some other support. Bear in mind this calculation will be redundant in a few hours.
So, I think we have a government we can be happy with. Mahinda ran on a campaign that only he can prevent separatism or the country splitting apart, but that’s not true. The country is bigger and stronger than just him. What I do see happening is an inclusive government backed by rule of law, good international relations, and an active citizenry. And a highly skilled and trained military, of course.
More importantly, I see a citizenry that is intelligent, that cares, and is able to hold their elected official accountable. If we could vote Mahinda down twice, everyone needs to be afraid for their jobs. As they should be. I voted for the UNP but I know we have to keep an eye on them.
So Now What
For a few hours people will keep refreshing the results page, but the overall result seems clear. The UNP will win, slowly, and our government in general will be less shit. We’ll find out who our actual MPs are in a few days, and the National List in about a week, though the SLFP may be tied up in court. The Parliament should sit around September 1st and then we won’t have an election like this for at least 4 years.
A good election I’d say. Now if people would just get back to work.