Karu has the edge, survey says | Sunday Observer

Karu has the edge, survey says

15 September, 2019

The Presidential race which had been a race between two horses, at least for the last two decades, is more likely to be curved into an open race between a few candidates this time. Also, there is a common belief constructed within the public that none of the candidates would surpass the 50 per cent edge at the election. In this context, former head of the Department of Sociology at the University of Peradeniya, Professor Sisira Pinnawala met media last week with results of a survey conducted by himself covering all 25 districts of the island, with the purpose of finding out possible trends in the upcoming Presidential election.

The survey done in early August this year with a sample of 1,675 has considered two already announced candidates, Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Anura Kumara Dissanayake while trying to match them with each scenario where either Speaker Karu Jayasuriya or Minister of Housing Sajith Premadasa is fielded by the UNP led coalition.

In addition to that, three assumptions were also considered in conducting the research, i.e. SLFP will not put forward a separate candidate and they will support the SLPP candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa, UNP will not be divided and only one candidate will be announced and minority parties, especially TNA, will not field a separate candidate.

“Political surveys are my hobby. So I did this for fun.” Prof. Pinnawala told media.

In conducting the survey, he had divided entire vote base of the country into 10 sub-groups, namely Colombo Metropolitan, Colombo and suburbs professionals (Maharagama/ Homagama/ Kaduwela/ Kotte), Secondary cities (Kandy/Matara/ Gampaha/ Galle/ Kurunegala), Rural Sinhala Buddhist areas (the largest vote base), Backward remote areas (Monaragala/Hambantota), Plantation sector, North and East Tamil majority areas, North and East Muslim majority areas, Muslim majority areas in the Interior, Christian majority areas in the coastal belt.

According to the survey, the UNP led coalition would yield better results in a reality where Karu Jayasuriya was placed as the coalition candidate. It shows that Jayasuriya has a slight advantage of winning the majority in 7 sub-groups except for backward remote areas like Hambantota/Monaragala. He and Gotabaya Rajapaksa would share the same percentage of votes in Colombo suburbs professionals and Rural Sinhala Buddhist areas, the survey exhibits.

“Minority vote will be the key fact in this election too. Whoever gains the TNA support and Muslim votes has a clear advantage. But Rural Sinhala Buddhists are the majority of voters. Therefore the winning candidate has to record at least 50 per cent from that base too,” Professor Pinnawala explained.

His research further reveals that Minister Sajith Premadasa can surpass the potential vote base of Karu Jayasuriya only in backward remote areas, where he will not gain momentum in any other area compared to Jayasuriya. But both would share same proportions in North and East Muslim majority areas and Muslim majority areas in the Interior.

The survey also suggests the candidate of JVP led civil society coalition, Anura Kumara Dissanayake, will gain at least 10 per cent votes in most of the districts in a reality where Sajith Premadasa is the UNP candidate. “His presence will damage both UNP and SLPP,” the retired academic said.

He added, “Something we all forgot is that a significant portion of grassroots level JVP supporters did not vote for Maithripala Sirisena in 2015. They are the hardcore JVPers who will only vote for a JVP candidate. Dissanayake will yield that advantage”.

Professor Pinnawala assumes, looking at the survey results, that Karu Jayasuriya has a better chance of defeating Gotabaya Rajapaksa as he has the advantage of a Sinhala Buddhist image which Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe lacked.