Ranil: Time is up to set up a precedence in the leadership selection process
Posted on October 15th, 2009

Nagananda Kodituwakku from London

Since independence, Sri Lanka has suffered heavily without visionary leaders in the mainstream political parties. This has caused tremendous damage to the growth and image of the nation, whilst other nations in the region have earned tremendous growth.

 The, need of the hour is have bold policy inventions by all political parties paving way to install honest, patriotic and magnanimous leaders in the leadership of political parties. There is no point blaming the people for election of criminals, fraudsters and all sorts of other anti-social elements to the Parliament. It is the corrupt party leadership of the respective party that should take full responsibility for setting bad precedence by allowing anti-social elements to become elected to the Parliament.

On paper Sri Lanka is a democracy. Yet, in the party leader selection process, none of the political parties, including the JVP, follow a transparent democratic leadership election process. This is the right time that someone takes an initiative to put the record straight forcing other parties to follow. I believe the current UNP leader, Ranil Wickramasighe, who will candidly concede that he is not a dynamic leader, is the most fitting person who can set an example because he has nothing to loose.

On this particular issue, there is a lot to learn from leading democracies, the UK, considered the mother of all democracies, where party leader selection process is fully transparent and democratic. In the UK any elected member who believe that he has the required qualities, such as a clear vision and character to command the particular party is allowed to enter into selection process.

For instance, in the Conservative party, the leadership contest is initiated either by the incumbent leader resigning or by passing a vote of no confidence in the present leader. The latter is called if 15% of the Parliamentary Party writes to the Chairman of the party. If a vote of no confidence is upheld, a leadership election is called and the incumbent is barred from standing in it.

If only one candidate stands then he is elected as the leader [uncontested]. If more than two candidates stand, then MPs first hold a series of ballots to reduce the number to two. On each round, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. Candidates may also withdraw between rounds. The series of ballots by MPs continues until there are only two candidates remaining. At this point the all-member ballot begins; this lasts for some weeks. To be eligible to vote, an individual has to have been a paid-up member of the party for at least three months. The candidate who tops the poll is declared the leader.

The whole process is brilliant and it only allows the most fitting person to become the party leader. That is how young dynamic David Cameron became the leader eliminating most senior leaders in the party such as Kenneth Clarke and David Davis.

In my view Ranil is the most fitting person to initiate action in the right direction forcing other parties to follow. Leadership election process may allow not only elected members but other the patriotic leaders, who hitherto refused to enter mainstream politics, to stand. And by doing the right thing not only he allow most fitting person to become the party leader, his name will also be remembered for his part in the process of installing true democracy in Sri Lankan party politics.

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