The UPFA`s spectacular win at Thursday`s LG polls came as no surprise. It bagged 205 out of 234 local government institutions to which elections were held. The TNA secured 12, the UNP 9, the National Congress (NC) 2, the Up-Country People`s Front (UPF) one, an independent group one and the JVP none. The NC and the Independents concerned are with the government. As for the number of seats, the UPFA has won 1,839, the UNP 892, the TNA 76, the JVP 57, the SLMC 50, the UPF 21, and the NC 14. The UPFA has obtained 55.65% of the votes, the UNP 33.89%, the JVP 3.02%, the SLMC 1.48% and the TNA 1.17%.
It is clear that the Mahinda Magic still works whether one likes it or not. The credit for the UPFA`s victory should go to President Mahinda Rajapaksa and no one else. The government has won in spite of the jokers it fielded and some of its ministerial nincompoops. The Opposition spin docs may try to make statistics lie to cover up their failure. UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake has already claimed that the UNP`s vote bank has increased from 29.34% at the last parliamentary polls to 33.89% at Thursday`s polls. One should not make the mistake of comparing LG polls results with those of the past parliamentary or PC or presidential polls because issues, the manner in which people vote and their priorities differ from election to election. A comparison could be made only between two elections of the same kind. The UNP`s strength at the LG level has not increased compared to that at the last LG polls in 2006. But, the UPFA`s vote base at that level has expanded from about 46% in 2006 to 55.65% mostly at the expense of the JVP, whose percentage has dropped from 11% to 3%. The JVP has lost the Tissamaharama Pradeshiya Sabha, the only LG body under its control, to the government.
However, everything is not hunky dory for the UPFA it could have performed even better on Thursday. True, it remains very popular in the rural areas but its popularity is on the wane in some urban centres owing to high cost of living etc. Rural masses constitute over 80 per cent of the country`s population and a government can win elections with their support, but governance becomes difficult for a regime, unless it wins over the urban people who are more active and influential economically as well as politically. The message that the electorate has sent to the government is that it has to take cognisance of people s woes, work harder to ameliorate them and be less arrogant.
The UNP continues to lose elections because it has come to believe in its own lies without sorting out its problems such as the on-going leadership tussle. Electoral defeats are also the price it has had to pay for its association with some rabidly anti-national forces that once backed the LTTE to the hilt.
A few weeks ago the UNP was expecting the people to rise against the government like Egyptians, who overthrew President Hosni Mubarak, though Egypt and Sri Lanka are poles apart politically or otherwise. What a song and dance its propagandists made of a picture of Libyan dictator Gaddafi with an arm on President Rajapaksa`s shoulder at some function. The UNP should learn from the outcome of Thursday`s polls, stop hoping against hope and solve its problems. It ought to get treatment for its political pneumonia without making an issue of the government`s electoral cold, as it were.
What the JVP is afflicted with is political paralysis. All its home remedies have failed. Its day of reckoning has come! It has to come to terms with the fact that political hitchhiking is no longer possible. It has to discard its threadbare shibboleths and crawl out of its ideological cocoon or perish therein.