EC: Joke candidates costing Taxpayer money

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Joker-Sirisena

Election commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya has said that more than half of the 19 candidates supposedly running for president are not actively promoting their candidacy.   Deshapriya says that at least three of the candidates have pledged support to the one of the main candidates and that such individuals “harmed the Office of the President”.   The election commissioner told reporters that he regretted Taxpayer’s money being used for such antics by the two main players.

Sri Lanka’s major political parties routinely field their own surrogate candidates to add numbers to their counting booth presence and gain access to a segment in state media dedicated for all presidential candidates.

The 2015 election cycle also includes two candidates bearing similar names to that of the top two players, presumably to confuse rural voters.

Rathnayaka Aarachchige Sirisena, a Maithripala Sirisena look-alike played a parody version of former minister Maithripala Sirisena in a TV show called  “And Company” on Swaranwahini before being nominated by the Patriotic National Front (PNF) as it’s presidential candidate. The PNF is an nationalist organization associated with UPFA minister Wimal Weerawansa.  Not seeing the lighter side,  main opposition campaign spokesperson Mangala Samaraweera told reporters last week that the government hopes to create panic on election day by announcing that “Sirisena has pulled out” of the race this trying to create panic in rural electorates.  The candidate R.A. Sirisena is also running parody advertisements on mainstream print media in both Sinhala and Tamil in a bid to poke fun at the common opposition candidate and confuse  voters.

Not be outdone,  the main opposition also fielded lawyer Namal Ajith Rajapaksa  a name-sake of President Rajapska’s son under the party Our National Front.  The party is also running some advertising particularly on social media mimicking the President’s campaign branding and the avatar of his son.

The election commissioner is obviously not impressed with the process being taken for a joke, and advised media not to promote the candidature of those who are not serious about running for the country’s top post.

Among the minor candidates only the Frontline Socialist Party seem to have any semblance of a serious campaign, while several perennial presidential candidates have small pockets of support.  In the past few presidential elections minor candidates accounted for about 1-2% of the total valid votes, but their vote share usually decreases in close elections.

 

 

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