who gains most from first past the post at this juncture?
Every day in the news we can see some news items on provincial elections. Yes you don’t hear news now, you see, on the TV because for more that 95% of people in the country prime source of news is TV. And perhaps 95% of that is private TV channels.
Imagine we had to pay for watching TV at the beginning of TV era because state had a monopoly and in any monopolistic situation consumer has to pay more than he would pay when his consumption is competed for, in a free market, by two or more service providers
Going back to PS elections, the political parties in competition, at least on the surface, has different strength and weaknesses and accordingly a specific position on, how to conduct elections and when should they be held. Lets look at the possible inner thinking of the political parties that would fight in the upcoming PS elections.
1. UNP – they have about 35% of the vote base intact. They are effectively in power in the country, that would add few more percentages to that 35%
2. SLFP – because of the MR factor their rural vote base is in disarray and confused , it will be great achievement if they can get even 20% of the votes. Their unpopularity within their usual voter base is further compounded by their inability to criticize UNP because whatever the UNP has done during present government , they are also responsible too, being almost equal partners.
3. MR fraction – in rural Buddhist voter base , which is the primary voter base for SLFP, this fraction will do much better than SLFP proper , not only because MS alienated them by contesting from opposition party during last presidential but this voters are not too comfortable with bipartition approach to politics.
4. JVP – they will garner the usual 5% and definitely less than last election anyway
In this volatile and unprecedented bipartition governance by two biggest political parties the party’s preferences for how to conduct election should be as follows;
1. UNP – PR system , because the opposition is ferociously divided, they can easily win most of the PSs with about 35% vote base. Infighting in SLFP will make it possible for them to even assail the toughest fortresses of the SLFP.
2. SLFP- first past post; with president in power and some ministers running the campaign , if they can field some decent set of candidates ,who are not tainted by corruption scandals of last regime they should be able to do much better than ,they would do in an election held under PR system
3. MR fraction – PR ; for them MR is the biggest draw and they have the burden of having many notorious PS politicians so they would do better in PR system contesting as a group and MR as the biggest banner.
4. JVP – first past post; although at national level JVP has to have PR system to survive, at village level they will do better , even grab a PS or two, if they field some sensible candidates , under some popular parliamentarians.