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6 points for a first-time voter after 2019’s Presidential Election

Photo courtesy The Statesman

Editors note: The following was sent to Groundviews by a regular contributor, who wished to remain anonymous. It was written by the contributor for a young, first-time voter who had been extremely distressed by the result of the 2019 Presidential Election. On the basis that it would resonate amongst a wider public, permission was sought and given for re-publication.

  1. Accept the result. This is democracy at work. Sometimes it gives you not just what is unbearable but also what is dangerous. The risk is inherent in the system.
  2. Understand the result. The country is divided. The Rajapaksas have a monopoly on what passes for patriotism. A majority of Sinhala-Buddhist have accepted them, freely, as their sole representative. That bond can be sundered only by the Rajapaksas, through their future crimes and mistakes. And they will. Mahinda Rajapaksa did it between 2010 and 2015. Gotabaya will do it sooner.
  3. Think of the next struggle. The parliamentary election is of critical importance. It cannot be won. But the SLPP’s victory can be reduced to a marginal one. Voting and encouraging others to vote would do, if nothing else. The Rajapaksas won a near two-thirds majority at the 2010 parliamentary election even after losing votes because oppositional supporters stayed away. The same disaster mustn’t happen this time. 
  4. Please, no internecine battles. If we fight over everything else, democracy will be the first casualty. Everything depends on the UNP not fragmenting and the non-SLPP forces not turning against each other.
  5. Face the challenges as Sri Lankans. The only positive outcome of the election was to prove that a substantial segment of Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim communities did not succumb to the lure of racism/extremism and opted for the more moderate path. We must not divert from that path for short term gains. Anti-racism and moderation must be the two boundary lines that form the way ahead.
  6. Finally, don’t give in either to impatience or to despair. Don’t expect fast victories and don’t despair when defeats happen. Both adventurism and pessimism will cause burnout. Be patient, resist the flow and stay safe.
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