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Political Report-January 2020

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The Presidential election to elect the 7th executive President of Lanka was held on 16th November where Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna candidate (SLPP) Gotabhaya Rajapaksha was able to secure 52.25% votes and elect as the president. The main opponent candidate Sajith Premadasa contested from United National Party (UNP) has been secured only 41.99% and the National People’s Power (NPP) Led by JVP got 3.16%.In comparison with the 2015 presidential election the number votes of Rajapaksha faction was increased by 1,100,000 and the number votes of the United National Party was declined by 700,000.These fluctuations of votes percentage has not been demonstrated a considerable arithmetic difference according to the two capitalist wings.However that would decide the future politics and policies of the state.

Mr Gotabhaya Rajapaksa has received overwhelming backing of the majority Sinhalese Buddhist community and the rural petty bourgeois class. Yet he has been almost totally rejected by the minority Tamil and Muslim voters who are regionally concentrated in Sri Lanka’s Northern and Eastern provinces and the central province’s plantation country and some urban areas of the Western and Southern provinces. Sajith Premadasa, the UNP candidate received the support of a vast majority of Tamil and Muslim voters and the Urban middle class. Yet he has been soundly rejected by the Sinhalese voters, in some electorates receiving only one-third of the votes.

Unlike other elections this election had shown unprecedented ethnic divisions in the poll. The vote distribution between the two main candidates shows that the presidential election has re-affirmed the continuity, and not the weakening, of ethnic polarization in shaping the political destinies of Sri Lankan society. There is one major reason that seems to have contributed to this polarizing electoral outcome. It is the political impact of the series of bomb attacks carried out by Muslim terrorists on April 21, the Easter Sunday, this year. It created a deep sense of scarcity and  insecurity among the citizens along with a huge loss of faith in the capacity of the government and its leadership to provide citizens security and safety. Amidst public outrage, the government immediately began to face an unprecedented crisis of public confidence. It also set in motion a new wave of Islamophobia, spearheaded by the social media through phobias of Sinhala contraception, creation of Muslim state and it spread rapidly particularly among the Sinhalese-Buddhist citizens. In addition to the votes based on ethnic polarization another considerable amount of votes were accumulated to the Gotabhaya as the so called good governance promises of the UNP government have been deceitfully breached by them while capitalizing the mandate given by the people for liberal democratic expectations.

While Rajapaksha could capitalize the Sinhala Buddhist nationalism inevitably Premadasa’s weak Sinhalese nationalist credentials that ensured him overwhelming support – in many electorates over 80% of the valid votes – among Tamil and Muslim voters. The Tamil and Muslim citizens seem to have had an insecurity problem different from their Sinhalese counterparts. The source of this insecurity is the political elite of the Sinhalese nationalist coalition led by the Rajapaksa family. The latter’s past track record, from the point of view of the Tamil & Muslim communities, has had a distinctly Sinhalese-nationalist orientation.

The several private media spearheaded Rajapaksa’s campaign and strategically they were also keen to prove the point that they could win a presidential election without the support of other ethnic voters. They seem to have been inspired by the electoral strategy of benefitting from deep ethnic divisions and the majority’s security anxieties, as successfully practised by India’s Bharatiya Janatha Party. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa’s development alit agenda for Tamil and Muslim-majority provinces could hardly resolve the insecurity dilemma of the ethnic minorities. Thus, in the districts where the Tamil and Muslim communities are dominant numerically, Sajith Premadasa has polled more than one million votes over Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. Especially the Tamil and Muslim Nationalist candidates namely Shivagilinagam and Hisbullah could not be able to get considerable votes. Tamils and Muslims have contributed to Premadasa’s national total as well as the national average quite significantly. In many electorates in the North and East, Rajapaksa’s share of votes is as low as 20 present.

The entire election had been polarized between nationalist and so-called democratic segments and parties like JVP did not have courage to bring an alternative to these two bipolar camps. In fact JVP and other left oriented movements and the individuals were unable to draw the line against  the nationalist and the liberal democratic agendas of the capitalist wing. Having known the fact that the ground situation is detrimental to the working class and the political aspirations of lower class the Frontline Socialist party has focused its election campaign to promote socialism as it is the only alternative to the capitalism.

The post-election conduct of Gotabhaya Rajapaksha indicates that he wishes to continue the Sinhala Buddhist nationalist agenda. He gave his oath in front of Ruwanwelisaya Buddhist stupa and in his inaugural speech he specifically stated that he was elected as president by the Sinhala Buddhist people. Gotabhaya’s immediate reforms show that he believes Asiatic capitalist system which practices by the countries such as Singapore and Malaysia which built marked base economies while curtailing the basic fundamental rights of the people and oppressing the progressive movments. According to the constitution of the country the parliament cannot be dissolved till the February 2020. Gotabhaya would try to uplift his popularity by giving certain concessions to the people during next few months and also he might temporary fold his oppressive mechanism until the end of the parliamentary election. On the other hand he has a challenge to balance Mahinda Rajapaksha’s political aspirations too which is totally difference to the bureaucratic rule of Gotabhaya.

In order to establish Asiatic capitalism in the country inevitably the government should have to curtail the rights of the workers and social welfare. On the other hand new oppressive laws will be introduced to exploit labour and oppress the progressive movements. In the circumstances the left wing has multiple challenges in order to defeat the oppression and popularize the real alternative to the capitalism.

 

 

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