CaFFE Situation Analysis: The next 72 hours after results are announced
CaFFE Situation Analysis: The next 72 hours after results are announced
A Critical 48 Hours
With preferential vote results released by there will be two major developments in the next 48 hours; on one hand, political parties will be preparing their national list appointments and on the other there will be the swearing in of the Prime Minister and the appointment of the cabinet of Ministers. This report is a speculative analysis of what might transpire in the next two days.
Swearing in of the Prime Minister
United National Party (UNP) leader, Ranil Wickremesinghe speaking to media today said that he will be sworn in as the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka tomorrow (20th August 2015). He added that the Cabinet will also be sworn in on the same day. Based on information received by CaFFE while the swearing in of the Prime Minister is a very real possibility on 20th it is unclear whether the Cabinet of Ministers can be decided upon and sworn in a short period of time.
United National Front for Good Governance
CaFFE has been made aware that defeated candidates will not be appointed as national list members by the UNP.But there has been no decision taken on this, so far. While the preparation of the list is underway it is possible that Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC) and Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) will be given two slots each in the national list. In addition to this, the alternative faction of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) may also receive a slot.
United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA)
A number of former UPFA MPs who obtained ministerial posts on the request of Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) Chairman Maithripala Sirisena including Mahinda Samarasinghe, SB Dissanayake, Piyasena Gamage, Jagath Pushpakumara, Shantha Bandara, Vijith Wijayamuni de Zoysa, Hemal Gunasekara, Lakshman Yapa Abeywardane, Eric Weerawardane, Nandimitra Ekanayake, Lakshman Seneviratne, Lalith Dissanayake and Thilanga Sumathipala have lost their seats in the election.
Based on information received by CaFFE there is an initiative to bring back Mahinda Samarasinghe, SB Dissanayake and Thilanga Sumathipala into parliament through the national list. It is however, unclear as to how this negotiation is proceeding. (Amended August 20th -- 9.08am)
The Replacement of the UPFA General Secretary
President Sirisena removed SusilPremajayantha and appointed Prof. Wishwa Warnapala as the UPFA General Secretary. As Premajayantha is undergoing a disciplinary inquiryWarnapala has the power to certify the national list.Yesterday (18) Warnapala and Premajayantha (with Prof GL Peiris) met the Elections Commissioner (EC) separately.Based on information received by CaFFE while the EC told them to formulate a list that both groups of the UPFA can agree upon, it has become obviousthat Warnapala's list will not be rejected by the EC and that Premajayantha will not submit a list.
The appointment of the Cabinet
President Sirisena appointed the previous Cabinet according to a list given by PM Wickremesinghe. But we believe, based on information received by CaFFE that this will not be the case this time. The Cabinet will be appointed according to a discussion between President Sirisena and PM Wickremesinghe. A similar mechanism will be followed in appointing top positions of the government.President Sirisena is the head of the Cabinet.According to the 19A the Cabinet will be limited to 30.
“National Government” or “Coalition Government”?
President Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesingherepeatedly indicated before the election that the next government will be a “National Government”. Currently there are unofficial discussions between party leaders of the UNFGG, SLFP and UPFA to discuss and agree on for example, the composition of National Lists.
The Composition of Parliament and the ‘structure’ of the two “Grand Alliances”
Officially, the UNFGG and SLMC have a combined tally of 107 MPs.The UNFGG will need another 6 seats to have a ‘simple majority’ in parliament.
It will also need 43 more ‘votes in parliament’ to pass Constitutional Amendments for example like the 20th Amendment. Hence, the UNP will definitely need more seats in Parliament.The UPFA have a total 95 seats. The TNA have 16 seats. The JVP has 6 seats while Douglas Devananda has been elected through the EPDP.
The UNFGG won large majorities in Colombo and Gampaha because it was able to portray itself in a more ‘nationalist’ sense due to the ‘JHU elements’ in their candidate lists. The JHU and SLFP dissidents might be a small in numbers however their alliance with the UNP strengthened the UNFGG greatly. All their key candidates won. Champika Ranawaka, Chatura Senaratne, Karu Paranawithana, Hirunika Premachandra, Arjuna Ranatunga, SB Navinna and Rajitha Senaratne who joined the UNFGG with the JHU were elected MPs. In addition Kegalle, Kandy, Trincomalee and Gampaha districts which were won by the UNFGG had a swing vote which could have been influenced by SLFP dissident and JHU candidates. Hence, the UNP must maintain a cordial relationship with the SLFP dissidents and the JHU for it to be able to ‘politically win over’ the Districts with a significant Sinhala Buddhist vote in the future. In addition the UNFGG must maintain a balance of power between parties that represent the Tamil and Muslim communities. In contract to this minority political parties who contested under the UNFGG such as theSLMC, ACMC, Mano Ganesan's DPF also helped it to obtain a number of seats. The ACMC has obtained five seats from Vanni, Batticaloa, Anuradhapura, Trincomalee and Kurunegala and they will also obtain two national list slots. The SLMC has obtained five seats, three from Ampara, one from Batticaloa and Kandy, they will also obtain two national list slots. Mano Ganesan's party has also obtained three seats from NuwaraEliya, two from Badulla, one each from Kandy and Colombo. They will also obtain one or two national list slots. Thus they will also demand ministerial positions.
Most of the areas dominated by Sinhala Buddhists have been won by the UPFA.For the UPFA there are a number of MPs who have been appointed from smaller constituent parties such as the PHU, NFF and MEP. There are five MPs (+ National List) from the National Freedom Front (NFF) of Wimal Weerawansa, a Rajapaksa loyalist. In similarity to this, it is apparent that most of the elected UPFA MPs are Rajapaksa loyalists and it is still unclear how they will respond to the concept of a “national list”, a “national government” or a “coalition government”. (a list of UPFA MPs and their assumed loyalties are attached in a separate document).
The Agenda of a Future Government and the “New Opposition”
During a personal discussion, President Sirisena stated that reconciliation, electoral and constitutional reforms will be the main items in the agenda of this government. President Sirisena is the key to ensuring that the Sinhala Buddhist majority can live harmoniously with the Tamil and Muslim minorities. However if PM Wickremesingheis portrayed as leading reconciliation initiatives like he did in the early 2000 period it will lead to a disaster akin to 2004. It will lead up to a breakup of the UNFGG coalition with the first sign being the departure of the JHU from the UNFGG. With the UNFGG securing Sinhala Buddhist votesdue to the support of the JHU this will lead to a gravitation of these votes back to the UPFA through the NFF and MEP.
President Sirisena has demonstrated that he is a shrewd politician. He has now taken control of the SLFP. He has removed 13 Rajapaksa loyalists from the SLFP Central Committee and has appointed his loyalists. He can also appoint district leaders according to his opinion and those leaders are automatically are appointed to the CC. His objective is to make his party and alliance “clean”.
A significant number of UPFA MPs are those with various criminal allegations. It is possible that there will be tensions when these MPs are investigated and the prosecution of these MPs will weaken the SLFP and UPFA in opposition. MPs like Wimal Weerawansa and Dinesh Gunawardane who are opportunistic hard liners will play a leading role in the opposition. Thus Civil Society Organizations will once again become the true opposition of the nation.CaFFE is are currently unaware of the future decisions of Mahinda Rajapaksa, however is very likely that he will be sworn in as a MP. The next 47-72 hours will be of great importance.
There are several UNP MPs who openly campaigned for LGBT rights and at least two more such persons will be selected from the national list. The breakdown of Female Representation in the Parliament is as follows (11): Wijayakala Maheshwaran (UNFGG - Jaffna), Hirunika Premachandra (UNFGG - Colombo), Geetha Kumarasinghe (UPFA- Galle), Rohini Kaviratne (UNFGG - Matale), Sumeda Jayasena (UPFA - Moneragala), Sriyani Wijewickrama (UPFA - Ampara), Chandrani Bandara (UNFGG- Anuradhapura), Thusitha Wijemanne (UNFGG - Kegalle), Thalatha Atukorale (UNFGG- Ratnapura), Pavithra Wanniarachchi (UPFA - Ratnapura), and Sudharshani Fernandopulle (UPFA - Gampaha) were elected to parliament. However, several prominent female candidates such as Rosy Senanayake (UNFGG - Colombo) and Upeksha Swarnamali (UPFA - Gampaha) have lost out. Thus there will a possibility of less female representation in parliament.
This is only an analysis, with facts, of these transient times.
Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon,
Executive Director - CaFFE