Saturday, 20 September 2014

Uva Provincial Council Elections: Will the Opposition Make History?

Voting in the Uva provincial council commenced today with a healthy voter turnout. The high voter turnout can be attributed to the increased enthusiasm aroused by the opposition in the Badulla and Moneragala districts leading up to the elections and the growing unpopularity of the Government who have been riding the wave of the war victory of 2009. The widespread apathy in the electorate which caused high number of 'no shows' in the previous elections could translate to more votes for the opposition.

From the main opposition UNP's perspective, it all will depend on how strongly the oppositions' pitch resonates with the Sinhala Buddhist vote. Looking at the ethnic composition, Badulla district with a higher minority votes has to be won convincingly by the UNP (without the help of Upcountry Tamil Parties) to have a realistic chance of coming out victorious. It will be interesting to see how Moneragala district will vote with a significant percentage of Sinhala Buddhist voters. the JVP and the Democratic party too are expected to boost their vote base looking at their respective campaigns in the lead up to the election.

It is high time all these opposition parties come on board the 'common opposition platform' that never really materialized largely owing to JVP's sidestepping. If they do manage to work together it will no doubt will be a formidable force and it will be in best interest of the general public. Having said that the main opposition party the UNP has to get their act together going forward, if this is to become a reality, not only they will have to take the initiative but also they will have to make sure they maintain their intra-party unity which has been their holy grail of late. If the opposition manages to edge out the government in this election it will no doubt gather momentum, a good example would be the People's Alliance victory in the 1994 Southern Provincial Election (against a hugely unpopular UNP government once deemed unassailable) which was the prelude to landslide victories in the General Election and the presidential Election that followed.