Pollsrrhoea, pollstipation, pollsphobia
Posted on March 28th, 2016

Island Editorial  Courtesy The Island

The Rajapaksa government held too many elections. Polls were staggered unnecessarily to exaggerate the cold streak of the then Opposition and boost the egos of the ruling politicians. Bada yanakan chanda (which roughly put into English means purging with elections) was a popular term then. One may create a new word, pollsrrhoea (by combinging ‘polls’ with diarrhoea) to denote that phenomenon. In the end, the Rajapaksa regime succumbed to pollsrrhoea.

One thought the new administration would adhere to the so-called polls schedule after last year’s regime change without either postponing or advancing elections for political reasons. But, what one experiences at present is the obverse of pollsrrhoea, which has, under the present administration, given way to pollstipation (a portmanteau word one may create by combining ‘polls’ and ‘constipation’).

The incumbent government is doing everything in its power to postpone the local government polls. It is troubled by what one may call pollspohobia or fear of polls; it is fully aware that an election at this juncture will threaten its fragile unity in that the polls campaigns of the UNP and the SLFP will have to be led by President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe themselves come the next electoral contest. They will have to stop feeding each other kiribath and go on the offensive in a contest which is sure to leave the UNP and the SLFP red in tooth and claw.

The reason given by the government for postponing LG elections indefinitely is not convincing to say the least. It is purportedly waiting till the recommendations submitted by the National Delimitation Commission (NDC) are reviewed. Jayalath Dissanayake, who headed the NDC, has told this newspaper that there is absolutely no need for rescrutinising what his outfit did because last year both President Maithripala Sirisena and Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, who was Minister in charge of local government then, accepted the commission’s recommendations. Jayasuriya went to the extent of praising the NDC for a job well done, Dissanayake has said.

How come the NDC’s good work, endorsed by the Head of State and Jayasuriya, representing the UNP has, all of a sudden, become so bad as to require a thorough review, which seems to be a never ending process? It looks as if the people had to wait till the cows come home to elect their local government representatives!

Another reason why the UNP-SLFP administration is not ready for an electoral contest is its failure to fulfil many of its election promises; its internal problems are also bound to worsen and even spill over in case of an election. But, that is the government’s problem and not the country’s! Postponing elections as a remedy for any government’s political ills is as futile as ‘controlling dysentery with the help of a loincloth’ as they say in this country.

The last government dug its political grave by advancing an election recklessly. Its successor is apparently busy engineering its downfall by postponing an election on some flimsy pretext. Such expedient action is also fraught with the danger of causing a severe erosion of public faith in the National Elections Commission as well.

If the government actually believes in its own claim that the LG polls cannot be held under the proposed system due to the alleged flaws in the delimitation process, requiring rectification, then it had better explore the possibility of conducting the polls under the existing electoral system. The JVP is among the proponents of this school of thought. The government can rest assured that all political parties, represented in Parliament, will make common cause to clear legal impediments to LG polls being conducted under the existing proportional representation system if the need arises for new legislation.

The LG polls must be held without further delay. Let that be the bottom line.

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