Hold the Elections Immediately or Suffer Defeat and Loss
Posted on October 27th, 2009

Dilrook Kannangara

A General Election is due early next year (2010). The next Presidential Election is not due until 2011. However, holding the Presidential Election ahead of the due General Election will increase the possible number of seats for the ruling coalition provided it wins the Presidential Election. Alternatively only the due General Election can be held. Whatever the strategy is, election or elections must be held immediately.

Delaying elections is going to reduce the popularity of the ruling coalition. Winning the war is a major achievement by the ruling party. However, people are fast getting fed-up of the war victory. This explains why the ruling coalition obtained 72% in the Uva Provincial Council election whereas it managed only 68% at the Southern Provincial Council election. This trend is continuing. Unless elections are held as soon as possible, the ruling party is going to lose credit for winning the war.

Opposition is fooling the ruling party!

The Opposition managed to fool the ruling party repeatedly. UNP created a false campaign to create a perceived rift between the President and top army officers. It was a resounding success. It delayed the decision on the elections. This is exactly what the helpless UNP now wants; to delay the election as much as possible. Every month that passes reduces the popularity of winning the war. JVP follows the same strategy. At times JVP says it is unethical to go for a Presidential Election at this time. The next moment they say executive presidency must be abolished. Later they say they support a top army officer to be its presidential candidate. Three contradictory statements! But there is one theme that binds all three “”…” the JVP too wants to delay the elections as much as possible.

UNP and JVP failed to agree on a common candidate. Nevertherless they managed to convince the government that they have a common candidate! The result was postponing the announcement of elections. That’s all the utterly desperate UNP and the JVP now want.

Repetition of 1999/2000?

A General Election was due in 2000 and in December 1999 the Presidential Election was held in advance. Chandrika won that eletion.

The tragedy of the loser of a presidential election can be seen from what happened in 1988/89 at the subsequent general election. Immediately after winning the December 1988 presidential election by a razor thin margin, President Premadasa called for an immediate general election. It was held within 2 months in February 1989 where Premadasa’s party won 125 seats which is the highest ever number of seats won by any party under the PR system.

However, Chandrika was taken for a ride by a meekly Ranil. In a surprise move Ranil offered support to Chandrika for her political package immediately after the presidential election. A series of meetings was held. Nothing much happened for 8 months during which time the heat of the December 1999 victory was lost. Finally Ranil said they are unable to support the political package! It was a classic delaying game and Ranil won it. The delay in 1999/2000 was further punished by deteriorating security issues, petroleum price hikes and natural disasters. Out of desperation Chandrika dissolved the parliament and elections were called. The weakest ever parliament in history was formed in October 2000 which collapsed a year later.

It’s the same thing that happens now. President Rajapaksha is fooled by UNP-JVP-TNA delay tactics. As a result he delays the elections thereby losing vital advantage he gained by winning the war.

Apparently President Rajapaksha has fallen head first into the UNP-JVP delay tactics and fast losing political milage. He cancelled the party organisers meeting and put off announcing the election date.

A weak UPFA government?

A weak UPFA government will be the end result of this delay which will frustrate many UPFA members leading to cracks in party ranks. These will be exploited by the desperate UNP to untimely topple the government and grab power as in 2001.

A weak government means no critical legislation will be passed. Rulers will have to be contended with day to day affairs. Political bickering will consume major part of time leading to political instability and economic woes. Fruits of peace would be lost forever.

If these things were to be avoided, President Rajapaksha must call for immediate elections without delay. Winning the Presidential Election first and then immediately going for the General Election is the best thing to do which maximises the number of seats in parliament.

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