Sri Lankan Elections 101

Written by: Priyanth Nallaratnam

Image Courtesy of TamilNet

Image Courtesy of TamilNet

The aftermath of the Sri Lankan election tends to be a hot button topic for the Tamil Diaspora. The surprise candidate Maithripala Sirisena won the elections with the help of the ethnic Tamil votes. Moreover, the TNA endorsed Sirisena and there are several myths around the deluded support they provide. Many feel that it’s a positive change for the Eelam Tamils: a bleak light of hope towards a permanent political solution. Some also say that regardless of whether its Rajapaksa or Sirisena, nothing is changing for the Eelam Tamils. However, the result of the election has revealed many truths: the political influence of the Eelam Tamil community in the north and the east, the relevance of Sri Lanka to the west and the next phase of the Eelam Tamil Genocide.

The electoral map clearly shows that without the North and the East, Sirisena would have clearly lost the election, now these votes are not pro-Sirisena votes but anti-Rajapaksa votes. The voter turnout was well over 70% and it clearly voted against the brutal Rajapaksa regime. Given an opportunity, the people have expressed their political will and chose to expel the long-term (genocidal) oppression. These anti-Rajapaksa votes are towards an international investigation into the state sponsored genocide, a vote towards sovereignty of the Eelam Tamils and the screams of our people to end the genocidal oppression, colonization and militarization. Voting towards Sirisena is the result of the dominance of Sinhala candidates, Sinhala elitism, the genocidal structure of the state and the exclusivism granted to Sinhala Chauvinism by the state. The voter turnout of the Eelam Tamils also shows that the Eelam Tamil nation has proved that it’s more than capable to vote for a united political solution. This voter turnout should be compared to the Vaddukoddai referendum (not within the context of Rajapaksa Vs. Sirisena) that took place in 1976 where Tamil people politically overwhelmingly voted for a separate state. Therefore the political influence of the
Tamil should never be understated particularly after this election.

Sirisena’s victory is not just a domestic win but also an international win for the west particularly the United States. Since the ascension of the Rajapaksa regime, Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga (daughter of the first president Bandaranaike, former president of Sri Lanka and former leader of the SLFP) maintained close ties with the United States through the Hillary Clinton’s Global initiative foundation. Hillary Clinton is also close with the current administration and many signs shows that she might be running for the 2016 presidential elections in the United States. Regardless of her nomination, she still pushes the political cogs within the Obama administration and play’s a major role in determining US policy towards Sri Lanka. For the US, Sri Lanka has always been an important geo-strategic location and has always kept its eyes on the island. Therefore this is not Hillary Clinton’s agenda but a US agenda to secure Sri Lanka for their geo-strategic interests. For the US, Sri Lanka’s closeness to China signifies a greater threat to their hegemony around the world. Interestingly after 2009, Sri Lanka’s GDP increased steadily and this was due to heavy Chinese investments. The increasing Chinese investments are a rising threat in South Asia for the United States. It is under this lens that the US continually pushed for a war-crimes investigation (to oust Rajapaksa) and this led many in the Eelam political movement to believe that US is a potential ally of the Eelam Tamils. In reality US wanted a regime change. Chandrika’s burning desire to oust Rajapaksa from presidency and SLFP along with US’s need for ousting Rajapaksa to secure the strategic location from China provided the mutual ground for them to collaborate and push out Rajapaksa. Sirisena is just “fill in the blanks” factor.

Sirisena is another leader representing the chauvinist Sinhala Buddhist state that is there to continue the genocide of the Eelam Tamils. Militarization is there to stay and knowing that the military runs the economy from selling vegetables to running hotels, it is out of the realm of possibility to remove the military form the north and the east and gear them towards unemployment. Sinhala settlements continue to ravage the Tamil homeland. With the US factor added in, land grabs will be portrayed as innovation in tourism and more settlements will be in the headlines as “healthy job forecast”. The west will reward the current Sri Lankan regime for every step they take away form China through IMF, loosening the “lite” economic embargo and even warm diplomatic relations. The promise of good governance is limited to the Sri Lankan state and not to the Tamil homeland. Once certified for good governance, this next phase of the genocide will be the hardest for us to fight back.

Image Credits to BBC

Image Credits to BBC


It is time the Eelam Tamils across the world get their boots on the ground. It is not about siding with the US or India, but diplomatically maneuvering ourselves from political pitfalls. Political awareness is vital and unless we stand up, we will be living testimonies of how a once soon to be great nation-state became a graveyard for freedom due to our own negligence. It is always easy to say that Tamil Eelam is a reality but it is an entirely different dynamics to prove it. We bear the weight of freedom and the right to sovereignty that our heroes carried, unless we work towards what they believed in; we are not doing any justice but immeasurable disrespect for the lives lost. Let us not fail our people, our heroes and our political movement.




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Disclaimer: All views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect’s views and opinions.



    Priyanth Nallaratnam is an Eelam Tamizh youth currently studying Public administration and Governance in the pursuit of      finishing law school and attaining a J.D.

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