This time, the election field of Northern Province, particularly in Jaffna, it appears to be quite different from the previous elections. When we compare parliamentary elections held in 2010, the Local elections and the provincial elections, the upcoming election has completely a different set of aspects and election stage. On this changing scenario, there are many factors contribute towards this.
1. In 2010 elections, there was only competition between two major alliance parties, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and United People Freedom Alliance (UPFA) in which Eelam People Democratic Party (EPDP) was a part of. Even though Tamil National People Front, they did not have freedom on doing their political activities at that time. But only the above two major alliance parties were ruling the voters support in the election. But this time, the situation is completely different in which there are about five political parties which are trying to show their political dominance in the Jaffna region. Jaffna district has only 7 seats, but there are 5 primary parties contesting this time. This shows that there is a tough competition among candidates and also created a way for multi cornered contest.
2. In the past as far as the Tamil people are concerned, they had a hostile approach towards Mahinda Rajapaksa government at the centre. Hence Tamil people gathered together and voted with awareness both in Northern province elections or in the elections held recently. Because TNA was able to win with a thumbing majority. But this time the voters mindset is not particularly towards any particular political party or towards any specific problem. Because of this, people other than vigorous supporters of these parties are in a state of confusion. During talks with Jaffna people, it is evident that there are different mindsets prevailing this time and hence the possibility of votes scattering is more this time.
3. In the past five years time, in Northern province, especially in Jaffna district, the growth of internet usage is seen more and hence this time the internet based media groups are having influence with voters equivalent to the print-media agencies. Especially the influence of electronic media is much prominent with voters under the age of 40 years. Because of this opinions of candidates participating in the election is widespread. This also has changed the election stage to some extent.
4. More than all of the above, because of the change of regime in January of this year, there is some freely moving situation in political activities and processes. This has also triggered thinking about different sides of the political process. There is no over-arching and controlling group based political approach this time. Hence all the candidates in different regions are involved in different activities to attract their voters. This also would avoid the votes being put for a particular party and it would scatter votes mostly.
In this different situation only, this time elections are going to happen. However the people of Jaffna district and their votes were mainly influenced by major parties that support Tamil Nationalism such as Tamil National Alliance and Tamil National People Front. However they are also confused whether to support the TNA party that is considered as soft-approach party or the TNPF which is considered as the one with strong critics and actions, but improving over the time and following a new approach in this election.
An important thing to be observed here is that none of the approaches, soft or strict approach by itself will be successful completely in taking forward an aspect influenced by politics. When the policy related meetings happen, only if the soft-going and strictly-going approaches work together, there will be situation of balance. This is said to be an important reason behind the success of political processes of Sri Lankan rulers on the matters related of national interest. Also if we take any region in the world, there are two kinds of approaches like this prominent in the political stage. For example, as far as Sri Lanka is concerned, there are two parties United National Party (UNP) and Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP). In India, there are Congress and BJP parties. In Tamil Nadu there are ADMK and DMK parties. In Britain there are two major parties, Conservative party and Liberal party.
Even if look at the politics based on Tamil Nationalism, there were two parties in Sri Lanka before, Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi (ITAK) and Tamil Congress.
But after 1976, this kind of situation had changed unfortunately. There was a situation for a particular major organization to take responsibilities for our people rights. Initially it was Tamil people Freedom Party, then it was LTTE and now it is Tamil National Alliance. Like this, the Tamil Nationalism is being carried forward by organizations based on majority of people. This is creating an imbalance and when that particular organization is suffering or controlled, the movement towards the rights of our people also face a vacuum. Moreover the aspects of higher ranking executives in these organizations are sold for a price to the opposition, thinking about selfish welfare and ineffective skills cause these organizations to deviate from their policies and the entire Tamil community in Sri Lanka and Tamil Nationalism have to give the price of that approach. Because of this, Two-Parties politics is found to be advantageous in this kind of situations.
The question which is arising here is that in the selection political process, if TNA is in a dominant position, which party has to be recognized as the second major party.
Like it was said before, only there are two parties which have the approaches of Tamil Nationalism. They are TNA and TNPF. Both of their policies are almost same, but there are differences only in the way how they approach those policies to be achieved and implemented. Hence these two political parties are found to be suitable for practicing Two-Parties approach, keeping in mind Tamil Nationalism. Even if the votes are scattered among these two major parties, still they will be within the domain of Tamil Nationalism based approaches only. Hence voters can decide to vote for these major parties to create a situation of Two-Parties approach based political environment for the benefits of people.
When ground situation is like this, there is an increasing trend of more voters being influenced by TNPF party this time, especially in Jaffna. This is much prominent among voters who are within 40 years of age or those who born after wars in the past. A little less than 50% of voters (approx. 2,50,000) are within 40 years of age in the total number of 5,29,000 voters in Jaffna district. These people who were not under the influence of Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi (ITAK) and these people who use internet more are capable of deciding the winning party or change the winning prospects this time by giving their votes. Because most of these people support TNPF, there is a situation created in Jaffna district where considerable scattering of votes will happen and it would create Two-Parties based political approach.
But this is not something that will happen that easily. The TNPF party has still not aggressively taken forward their election campaign. Moreover they have not taken to people yet about their policies and approaches in a clear way. At the same time, TNA was found to be criticized by several sides regarding the nomination of candidates, and comparatively are seek weak this time. We need to wait and see if TNPF will use this as an opportunity and succeed in getting more seats to make a change to happen. We need to wait and see if this will create a Two-Parties approach in the Tamil Nationalism.