Home / FT View Editorial/ Not all candidates are equal

Not all candidates are equal

Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Monday, 9 September 2019 00:00

The Elections Commission is expecting about 20 candidates to contest the upcoming Presidential Elections and has called on political parties to submit their intention on whether or not to field a candidate. The surprising inclusion in that, at least to some extent, was the decision by the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) to put their own candidate into the ring despite ongoing talks with the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP).

The announcement came on Thursday night and prompted a fresh round of talks between the SLFP and the SLPP. The SLFP informing the Elections Commission of their intention just days after the national convention when President Maithripala Sirisena made no mention of plans for the Presidential Elections came as a shock to many political observers.

During the talks on Friday the SLFP and the SLPP attempted to play down the curve ball decision with SLFP General Secretary Dayasiri Jayasekera insisting that the option of a separate presidential candidate was just a backup plan in case their negotiations with the SLPP fail. This appeared to substantiate speculation that President Sirisena was looking to bolster his chances of getting a better outcome from the coalition talks.

SLPP presidential candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa was also present at a separate meeting with the SLFP and told media he was confident the latter would back him at an upcoming election. However, reporting over the weekend has suggested that the SLFP may be playing a tougher game than initially indicated.  Reporting suggests that the SLFP is leaning on the SLPP to adopt the chair as their symbol, which would be difficult given that the latter has been using the flower bud as their publicity symbol for years. A second challenging demand has been deciding the quota of SLFP parliamentarians before the Presidential Elections.

During his speech at the national convention Sirisena skipped over the Presidential Elections completely and focused on the Parliamentary Polls instead. Whatever the outcome of the Presidential Elections, many are expecting a Parliamentary Poll to be announced in the first quarter of 2020 as the winning party attempts to build a clear path to power by getting Parliament on its side as well.

At that point President Sirisena believes the SLFP will play a significant role in deciding the party that will hold Parliament. He also told the convention gathering that, thanks to the 19th Amendment, powers of the Executive Presidency would be stripped to the extent that the Prime Ministerial post would become more important and the central point of power. 

He then counselled the party rank and file to focus on building a Government in 2020, clearly referring to the Parliamentary Elections. Therefore it would seem that President Sirisena has not given up hope of using the SLFP vote base to get himself an influential position in the next Government.

On the other side of the divide the meeting between Prime Minster Ranil Wickremesinghe and UNP Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa did not take place as expected yesterday and it is unclear what path the latter will take after Wickremesinghe had said he will take his application up before the UNP Executive Committee.

Obviously of the 20 possible candidates only two or at best three will really matter to the voter and this is what the general public is focused on.  

Share This Article

Facebook Twitter


1. All comments will be moderated by the Daily FT Web Editor.

2. Comments that are abusive, obscene, incendiary, defamatory or irrelevant will not be published.

3. We may remove hyperlinks within comments.

4. Kindly use a genuine email ID and provide your name.

5. Spamming the comments section under different user names may result in being blacklisted.


Today's Columnists

Autocatalytic descent from plural democracy to supremacist authoritarianism

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

In a few days, Sri Lanka will celebrate its 72nd year of independence from colonialism. But behind the pomp and pageant of that celebration is a sad reality of an autocatalytic process – a small initial event triggering a chain reaction that evolve

Trump destroying brand USA: Implications for Sri Lanka

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

There is an old adage that ‘politics and tourism’ has a positive correlation. Many have tried to disprove this aspect but the relationship is coming out very strongly, the latest case study to the world being in the United States. Trump cost $4.

Freedom! Freedom! Where art thou?

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Freedom: who could object? Yet this word is now used to justify a thousand forms of exploitation. In the name of freedom – the freedom of the powerful to exploit the weak, the rich to exploit the poor. The definition of freedom is, the condition of

Development project information: Public expectations and their right to know

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Infrastructure development will be at the centre-stage during the next five years, irrespective of which mainstream political party will be in power. This writer has previously had articles published in the Daily FT on building regulations, infrastr

Columnists More