An opinion poll, commissioned by an independent organisation in Sri Lanka a few weeks before the August 17 Parliamentary polls, has revealed that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe enjoys higher approval rating in seven out of the nine provinces than former president and the United People’s Freedom Alliance’s (UPFA) election team leader Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Mr. Wickremesinghe leads in Western, Central, Northern, Eastern, North Western, Uva and Sabaragamuwa provinces, while Mr. Rajapaksa is more popular in the Southern and North Central provinces, according to the poll, conducted by Social Indicators, the survey research unit of the 19-year-old Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA). As many as 1,986 respondents were covered in all 25 administrative districts of the country, for which fieldwork was carried out during July 22-29.
Southern and North Central provinces are known to be strongholds of the former president. Across the country, 39.8 per cent of the respondents wanted Mr. Wickremesinghe to become the next Prime Minister whereas 27.5 per cent favoured Mr. Rajapaksa.
The message from the minorities was also clear – 62.3 per cent of the Tamils; 71.1 per cent of Upcountry Tamils and 62.3 per cent of the Muslims preferred Mr. Wickremesinghe, while less than 2 per cent from each community supported Mr. Rajapaksa. But, among the Sinhalese, the opinion was divided, with 36 per cent favouring the former President and 31.9 per cent the present the Prime Minister. (The Hindu)