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Sri Lankan Elections: Speak of the devil

Aspiring authoritarian leaders, who find themselves to their chagrin navigating a democratic political system, have a panoply of arguments to justify why their perpetual rule is something beneficial for the country. Incumbent Sri Lankan President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, seeking his 3ed reelection (voting completed today) came up with a new twist of such an argument tinted with a realpolitik flavor: that his opponents are far worse than him. In this way, he both demonstrates some self awareness and modesty by owning up to his imperfection and utilizes the innate fear of the unknown to paint his opponents with a negative hue. As he himself phrased it quite blatantly: "There is a saying that the devil you know is better than the unknown angel, I am the known devil, so please vote for me."

P.S. At the end, and to Rajapaksa's immense dissapointment, the voters didn't buy the "old devil you know" pitch and elected his opponent. It was after all a very 90s thing to say.


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