Race for the Tamil Vote

Race for the Tamil Vote

The main political parties are intensifying their efforts to secure the crucial Tamil vote in Jaffna and the broader Northern and Eastern provinces. These regions are expected to play a pivotal role in the upcoming presidential election, with the votes of the majority community likely to be split among multiple candidates.

Strategic Alliances

The presidential election is shaping up to be a three-cornered fight between President Wickremesinghe, SJB leader Sajith Premadasa, and NPP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake. All three candidates recognize the significance of the North and East votes, historically delivered in blocks by parties like the TNA and the SLMC. In 2019, such block votes were instrumental in Maithripala Sirisena’s victory.

Promises of Devolution


The candidates are aggressively courting the Tamil political parties, particularly the TNA, which can deliver a decisive block vote. Devolution of power is the key issue for the TNA’s support.

President Wickremesinghe has pledged to prioritize development in the North and East, ensuring devolution in line with the 13th Amendment (13A) to the Constitution. He has already initiated several development projects and distributed freehold land deeds to local farmers and the needy.

Sajith Premadasa has promised to fully implement the 13th Amendment, emphasizing that it is part of the Constitution.

Anura Kumara Dissanayake has gone a step further, promising to surpass the provisions of the 13th Amendment to win TNA’s support, though he has yet to detail how he intends to achieve this, risking backlash from nationalist factions.

Implications for the Election

The intense focus on the Tamil vote underscores the fragmented nature of the upcoming election. There is a real possibility that no candidate will secure more than 50% of the vote, leading to a runoff and a potentially hung parliament. This scenario could exacerbate the political instability at a time when the country is grappling with an economic crisis.


Strategic Importance 

As the presidential hopefuls campaign vigorously in the North and East, their efforts to secure the Tamil vote could be a decisive factor in the election. The promises of development and devolution reflect the strategic importance of these regions in shaping the future political landscape of Sri Lanka.

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