By Mohamed Faizal –
Presidential election 2019 is over. Gotabaya Rajapaksa has won, and this has made some people happy, and others unhappy. Happy people believe that everything will be hunky dory from now on, and the Unhappy people believe that hell will break loose. Both parties are wrong: violence or peace, progress or decline, and development or poverty do not depend on individuals – no matter how powerful the individual leader is.
Irrespective of how powerful a leader is, he always shares power with the clan that surrounds him. This may include ministers, leaders in the armed forces and the police, judges, high ranking bureaucrats, religious leaders, business magnates and so on. The dominant opinion in this influential group always determines how he rules. Any leader who disappoints sufficient number of people from this influential group effectively puts his job on the line, but no leader is foolish enough to do that. They all throw their principles out of the window – that is if they had any in the first place – and compromise.
A lot of the minority voters, especially the Muslims, are very unhappy tonight, as if they have lost the silver bullet in the defeat of their favourite candidate Sajith Premadasa. Little do they seem to realise that had Sajith been successful, he would have ruled exactly like how the outgoing president Maithri ruled. Maithri was the minorities’ favourite candidate last time, but anti-minority violence under him did not cease. This is because the dominant opinion in the influential clan sharing power with the president, is favourable for anti-Muslim violence. Any leader, be it Maithri or Sajith, has no choice but to respect this opinion and appease this influential group.
Politicians have the most accurate understanding of the nature and the psychology of the people. They know that it is harder to reason with them, but much easier to racially provoke them; and therefore, they always choose this easiest option.