Political candidates in Sri Lanka, #GE2017 aftermath

We can do better?

This is a typical example of the worthy but flawed thinking that so many people have about politics in Sri Lanka:

Do we at least now not need to think beyond blind allegiance to a colour of a political party but select good, honest men and women with integrity to exercise our sovereign legislative, executive and judicial powers to finally make policy-based decisions that will at least secure a better future for our children?

The question is not about a better quality of politician. The question is, who is willing to actually put themselves forward as political candidates and is there a pathway for them?

There are systematic problems (as there are all over the world) that hinder the development of “better” politicians. However, if we aren’t willing to get our hand dirty and get involved, then no amount of bedwetting and handwringing is going to make things better.

This is why movements like the Justice Democrats and Brand New Congress are so interesting and vital.

For all the talk about Macron, what he did has to be assessed in the context of the French political system. A more realistic option may be to transform parties from the inside out. The crucial question is how you can do this in systems like we have in Sri Lanka?

In Sri Lanka,the experience shows that no party follows any one procedure in the selection of candidates for elections at all levels. A study undertaken in respect of South Asia demonstrated that despite differences in procedures, parties in South Asia have some common features when it comes to candidate selection. Candidates are usually selected by consensus among the top leadership.

In most parties, the party chiefs have the final say, but they take decisions only after consultations with other party leaders at the relevant level. Today party alignments are unimportant and substantial de-alignment takes place during elections,and this could be attributed to the absence of strong constituency organisations with strong party loyalties and well demarcated party lines.

Therefore the organiser of the electorate – the candidate in waiting – or the MP of a given electoral division is the one who selects the candidates for the provincial or Pradeshiya Sabha elections. His nominees or recommendations are readily endorsed by the party leadershipand this,in effect, meant that all decisions are taken in consultation with the MP or the Organiser of the electorate.

The UK General Elections

From a campaigning perspective, this article was one of the better ones I read.

Crowd size at rallies does matter. One hesitates to endorse the Bill Mitchell model, but imprecise it is,  sheer numbers turning out for the candidate seems to be a reliable (if imprecise) indication of voter enthusiasm. This enthusiasm can be gleaned from elsewhere too.

Finally, youth, youth, youth – the left owns them and if they turn out to vote, then that makes all the difference. This YouGov data is striking.

The education statistics are also very interesting. It’s in line with the US (for example), but given how far left Labour’s policies are (nationalisation!), has significant implications as to what is possible in terms of policy. It is also a clear indication that factors like income equality, public services, the financial crisis and paying for education are the dominant themes for younger voters. 

 

#GE2017 – Demographics, policy and messaging

Some recent tweets:

  • There is an interesting  and ongoing battle between the Conservative’s rigid messaging on Corbyn and Brexit and wider issues on policies.

  • The message may (pun intended) be getting through but what do voters value?

  • Labour’s performance with younger voters continues to be a source of interest.

And these polls via the Economist added to that.

  • Some poor Labour marketing in terms of presentation.

  • Aside from the UK, Macron’s win also brought up something I’ve written about before:

UK General Election – analysis of content #GE2017

I’ll be posting about this on an ongoing basis, but a few observations to date:

  1.  You’re a flip-flopper! No, you are!!

As I pointed out in a tweet, the Lib Dems and Tories are using very similar graphics to draw attention to flip-flops by each other’s party leader. While this style of an image can be a useful tool, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the onset of a degree of audience fatigue.

2. Graphic designers are expensive!

The re-use of the same graphics across social media networks was obvious and I’m not overly enamoured with this practice. While I appreciate there may be resource constraints in term of developing content (and certainly some content can be duplicated), the peculiarities of each social network should be taken into account. In this example, the graphic may work on Facebook but is too wordy and complex for Twitter. I’d suggest an image of Theresa May’s initial statement about not needing an election would have sufficed, paired with a tweet about her flip-flopping or being untrustworthy.

3. Corbyn may be boring but…

I’ve found the Labour party’s content the most interesting and creative. A quick scroll through their tweets and Facebook page show a focus on their own leaders and policies and fewer attacks on their opponents. When they do attack, content like this is both amusing and effective on social media. Not only does it do a better job of making the same flip-flop point the Lib Dems were striving for, it also frames May as a second-rate Magaret Thatcher.