2005 vs 2010 polls: Boost for President, dip for Opposition

NE results: UPFA says President performs better than 2005, Opposition says no mandate for President

Votes for President Mahinda Rajapaksa in Tuesday’s election shot up in all districts compared with the results in the 2005 election, with the highest per centage, 69%, being recorded from Moneragala.

President Rajapaksa obtained more than 60 per cent in 11 of the 22 electoral districts and between 50 and 60 per cent in five of the districts. In three more districts the President received between 40 to 50 per cent while in three districts the figures were below 30 per cent.

The common opposition Presidential candidate Gen (retd) Sarath Fonseka received the highest percentage in the Batticaloa district with over 68 per cent. President Rajapaksa had improved his lead this time in some of the districts--more than 10 per cent--compared to the 2005 results. Among them were Kurunegala, Puttalam, Polonnaruwa, Moneragala, Ratnapura, Kegalle, Kandy, Matale, Nuwara Eliya, Matara and Hambantota.

However, when comparing the votes that Gen Fonseka gained with what opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe obtained in 2005 there was a drop in the figures despite contesting with the backing of the JVP which supported President Rajapaksa in the 2005 election.

Gen Fonseka who contested under the swan symbol received 10 per cent less than what Mr. Wickremesinghe received in 2005 in the districts of Kurunegala, Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Moneragala, Ratnapura, Kegalle, Kandy, Matale and Nuwara Eliya.

The Nuwara Eliya district recorded the biggest drop for the opposition (18 per cent) where Gen Fonseka received 52 per cent compared to 70 per cent gained by Mr. Wickremesinghe in 2005. However, the district was won by Gen Fonseka, despite the drop.

Gen Fonseka received less than 40 per cent in the Gampaha, Kalutara, Matale, Galle, Matara, Hambantota, Kurunegala, Puttalam, Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Moneragala, Ratnapura and Kegalle districts.

The lowest percentage was from Moneragala where Gen Fonseka received 29 per cent compared with 41 per cent received by Mr. Wickremesinghe in 2005.

Meanwhile election results in the northern and eastern provinces are being received with mixed reactions by political parties who backed both President Mahinda Rajapaksa and common opposition candidate Gen (retd.) Sarath Fonseka.

While the UPFA claimed the results in the two provinces indicated an increase in the number of votes received by President Rajapaksa as compared to previous elections, the opposition said the President had been rejected by the people of the north and east.

A deserted street in Jaffna town on election day. Pic by N. Parameswaram

“In comparison to the results at the last presidential election, the President received double the number of votes this time” said UPFA General Secretary Minister Susil Premajayantha. He said it is obvious the people had not heeded the call of opposition candidate Sarath Fonseka, TNA leader R. Sampanthan and SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem to reject the President”.

The General Secretary of Eelam People’s Liberation Front (Pathmanaba), T. Siridaran told the Sunday Times the TNA had misguided the people to vote for a military man and an undemocratic candidate.
R. Sampanthan, Parliamentary Group Leader of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) claimed “the Tamil-speaking people of the north and east had not given a mandate to the incumbent President”.

The 2010 presidential election showed, voters in the northern and eastern provinces had voted relatively enthusiastically to elect their representatives than they had during the 2005 presidential election.

The percentage of polled votes in the Jaffna District was 18% at this election, whereas the percentage stood at 1.21% during the last election. The Wanni District polled 40.33% at this election while it stood at 34.30% during the last election. The Trincomalee District polled 68.22% this year, whereas the percentage at the last election was 63.84%. The Batticaloa District polled 64.83% at this year’s poll, while the percentage at the last election stood at 48.51%. The percentage of votes polled in the Digamadulla District at the recently concluded presidential election this year was 73.54% while at the last election it was 72.70%During the last presidential election in 2005, pressure exerted on the people by the LTTE led to a poor turnout in the Northern Province.

Election results indicate though the numbers voting in the Northern Province increased, compared to the Eastern Province the figures were still very low.

Mr Nizam Karriappar, the deputy secretary of SLMC said “It is evident from the election results the President did not win in the north and east because he had failed to win the hearts and minds of the people in these areas.”

A glance at voting patterns, in the Northern Province --Jaffna district-- revealed General Sarath Fonseka was the overall victor having obtained 63.84% or 113, 877 votes, while President Mahinda Rajapaksa polled 24.75% or 44,154 votes. In the Wanni District General Sarath Fonseka secured 66.86% or 70,367 votes while President Rajapaksa received 27.31% or 28, 740 votes.

In the east too General Fonseka gained a majority. In the Trincomalee District Gen. Fonseka received 87, 661 votes or 54.09%, while the President received 69,752 votes or 43.04%. In the Battiacaloa district General Fonseka received 146,057 votes or 68.93%, President Rajapaksa received 55,663 or 26.27%. In Digamadulla General Fonseka received 153,105 votes or 49.94%, while President Rajapaksa received 146,912 votes or 47.92%.

Presidential candidate and leader of Left Front Dr. Wickremabahu Karunaratne commenting on voting patterns in the north and east said he was positive he had received more votes than those which appeared in the official results. He claimed fraudulent practices and manipulation resulted in the final official result.

He said he would be co-operating with the action of opposition parties. “With all these shortcomings it is clear the people of the north and east have not placed confidence in the President”. Siritunga Jayasuriya, Secretary of the United Socialist Party --another presidential candidate-- said “The election results of the north and east were clear indications of the people rejecting the President”. He added he could not be satisfied with the election results as it wasn’t a free and fair election.

S.K. Sethivel, Secretary New Democratic Party, --a leftist party based mainly in the north and east-- said “Most people in the two provinces had not cast their votes, proving their opposition to both candidates and untimely for the holding of this untimely election.”

Immediately after the final results were announced, President Rajapaksa said he was president for those who voted for him as well as for those did not vote for him. In the Jaffna district, the Kayts polling division was won by the President (4,611 votes, a percentage of 46.19%) against Gen. Fonseka (3,976 votes a percentage of 39.83%). The polling divisions of Vaddukkodai, Kankesanthurai, Manipay, Kopay, Udupiddy, Point Pedro, Chavakacheri, Nallur Jaffna and Kilinochchi gave a majority to Gen. Fonseka.

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