It’s a two horse race from main parties

President Mahinda Rajapaka signs a proclamation announcing an early presidential election. The President and his secretary Lalith Weeratunga (R) waiting for the auspicious time.

By Shamindra Ferdinando

With the JVP deciding against fielding a candidate at the seventh presidential election now scheduled for January 8, 2015, there is no likelihood of a smaller party nominating a candidate of its own.

Asked whether the five-party Tamil National Alliance (TNA) had decided on its position, National List MP A. M. Sumanthiran yesterday told The Island that they haven’t met yet to discuss their stand.

At the first presidential election held in October, 1982, JRJ and Kobbekaduwa polled 34,50, 811 and 25,48,438, respectively. The then JVP leader Rohana Wijeweera polled 273,428 votes. Wijeweera obtained the third highest number of votes obtained by a candidate at that election. National Languages and Social Integration Minister Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara, one of the strongest critics of the executive presidential system had joined the presidential fray on behalf of Nava Sama Samaja Party. Nanayakkara polled 17,005 votes. Altogether six contested that election with G.G Ponnanbalam of the Akila Illankai Thamil Congress being the only Tamil speaking candidate. Ponnambalam obtained 173,934 votes.

Then Premier Ranasinghe Premadasa won the second presidential election conducted at the height of the second JVP uprising in December 1988. Except the candidates from the two main parties, Premadasa (UNP) and Sirimavo Bandaranaike (SLFP), only other candidate Oswin Abeygoonasekera was fielded by the Sri Lanka Mahajana Party (SLMP). Oswin, a Premadasa loyalist obtained 235,719 votes.

The next presidential which brought then Prime Minister Chandrika Kumaratunga to power had six candidates. The poll conducted in November 1994 was marred by the assassination of UNP candidate Gamini Dissanayake on the night of October 23, 1994. The UNP fielded the slain leader’s wife, Srima.

Thirteen contested the fourth presidential election which gave Kumaratunga a second mandate. Among the other candidates were JVPer M. D. Nandana Gunathilaka, who secured 344,173 votes to obtain the third position, Rajiva Wijesinha ((Liberal Party-25,085 votes) and Vasudeva Nanayakkara (Left and Democratic Alliance-2,668 votes).

The fifth presidential election, too, was contested by 13 candidates. The then Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa defeated UNP candidate by less than 190,000 votes to become the fourth elected executive President.

The last presidential election which resulted in a second term for President Mahinda Rajapaksa attracted 22 candidates, including M. K. Sivajilingham, Wickremabahu Karunaratne and Sarath Kongahage, Sri Lanka’s top envoy in South Africa now after having served as the ambassador in Germany. President Rajapaksa was the only one to improve his previous record by obtaining 57.88 per cent of the votes at the last election. Rajapaksa polled 50.29 per cent of vote at the previous election.

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