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Democracy, and why the Present UNP Leadership forfeits its right to Lead the Party.

By Charles.S.Perera

In order to be a real democracy the political parties should consist of real democrats. A real democrat is one who respects the principles of democracy. One ennobling principle of democracy is to respect the decision of the majority, even if the loosing minority believes that the majority is wrong. The other is to allow the government elected on the principle of the respect of the majority vote, to implement its election manifesto, with the support of the minority, which becomes the "democratic" opposition of the Parliament.

If on the other hand the loosing minority-the opposition, from the day one after election, keeps criticising the government of the majority, and does not support the implementation of its election manifesto, it is not being loyal to democratic principles.

Hence, they should either resign en bloc, and allow the government to carry on without them, or be democrats and accept to support the government helping it with constructive criticism, not to make difficulties but to support it to carry on for the specified period of time for which it had been elected, allowing the people to get the maximum benefit from the government in place.

This supportive democratic opposition should go further, to cooperate and be one with the government, in three instances: (1) in the case of a natural disaster, (2) I n case of an enemy attack , and (3) in the case of terrorism. If the government would not commute itself to a National Government, the opposition should stand together with the government giving its undivided support, burying its political differences in the larger interest of the country and the people, until the situation is settled.

Unfortunately for Sri Lanka this democratic principle is a " rare commodity". The opposition thinks its role is to continually attack the government, insult and vilify, hoping that it would either gives up, allowing the opposition to take over, or call for fresh elections. That is not democracy, but "anarchy" of the opposition, becoming a traitor to the nation.

In Sri Lanka we have two principle political parties-the SLFP and the UNP, with their respective block votes. Other political parties until they get a majority vote at an election which propels them above the two principle political parties, will remain independently or join up with either one of the principle parties to form a coalitions.

But in Sri Lanka the democratic system does not function as it should because of the continuous antagonism. Each political party vying with each other to discredit the government. The tsunami in Sri Lanka saw the different political parties working independently without joining hands with the government, each seeking to establish popularity among the people. But the NGOs displaced the government, and other political parties in providing aid. No political party distinguished among the affected people as the party which helped them the most.

But in the other disastrous situation of terrorism, where the democratic principle of supportive participation with the government is necessitated more than ever, the collective participation of all parties with the government did not materialise. But instead we find the main Opposition party UNP, taking side with the terrorists instead of being with the government.

The principle political party responsible for this unpatriotic move to withdraw its whole hearted support to the government, and instead extend its support to the terrorists is the UNP, Whatever was the stand taken by the other political parties such as , the JVP, JHU, SLMC, TNA, SLFP (M), WPF, the UNP as the oldest political party with a large vote base has a duty demanded by the democratic principle of supporting the government on a National issue, to have stood by the government in its fight against terrorism.

But, in not doing so the present UNP leadership forfeited its right to be a democratic party of the people. The founding fathers of UNP were democratic, people friendly patriots National Leaders. The present Leadership of the UNP has not honoured either that reputation of the party, nor respected the memory of its founding fathers, thus it has doubly forfeited its right to lead the UNP.

It is now up to the UNP members at District level to coordinate all the members of the UNP from the grass root level, to demand the present UNP leaders to resign and call for a General Assembly of the UNP to elect a new set of leaders.

The present leaders beginning from Ranil Wickramsinghe, Tissa Attanayake, Lakshman Kiriella, Ravi Karunanayake, Michael Perera, Amaratunga , S.B.Dissanayake and others do not represent the UNP membership as a whole, and they do not speak any more for the real UNP vote base, the ordinary people.

With the present leadership UNP has become an unpatriotic party, distancing itself from the general membership of the party, and the great intentions of its founding fathers. They have confiscated the party to promote themselves, and force the members to support them for their official position in the parties Executive Committee.

It is not reforms that is necessary to give back to the UNP its deserved place as the oldest political party of Sri Lanka, but a complete shake up, removing the present leadership as a whole and replacing it with persons who have new ideas, who speak respectfully not as market orators, and who above all abide by the democratic principle of respect the elected President, and his elected government, and support them whole heartedly when the Nation is in danger in the hands of heinous terrorists



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