At last, the racket–albeit a muted one in the run up to the general election was over with the winner taking a little less than half the spoils. The country went green; not with envy but with a huge sigh of relief. In a ‘if we don’t make it this time; we never will’ approach, voters ganged up together with hitherto subjugated politicos to prevent a former colossus and his band of roguish parasites who had their fill in a pariah democracy taking the country to Satan land. Election promises and human stupidity
Elections are always associated with promises of various kinds to woo voters. It happened in the run up to the recent Lankan general election.
Every politician knows that the key to winning elections lies in the weight of assurances they make to voters in curing social and economic ills, development, education, employment etc., etc. And, the level and extent of the pledges are proportional to the size of the office politicos are after. In the ensuing tussles, they do their best to outdo competitors through specialised vow-making where the sky is the limit.
The stakes are high and the expense in running for a pew in the House prohibitive enough to warrant the sale of assets, resort to mortgages, informal borrowings and the acceptance of large donations with strings attached. Politicians also know that voters are incredibly stupid at election times.
So the question in the minds of those who see through convincing canvassing trickery is how to separate human intelligence from human stupidity.
“Meeooow,” purred Tommo a pussycat to his pal and working colleague, Ooty an owl. “Our governors’ election is over and the Green Front won and its fans celebrated with kiri buth, crackers and bailas leaving their chief enemies, a Betel crowd chewing the cud in the shadows.” The owl and the pussycat working as vermin controllers at the Wallside Restaurant and Bar were bending over their on-the house beers in the Wallside kitchen. Pussy pulled on a stolen coffin nail while the bird slurped beer through a straw. (Yoy see, it was due to the design of his beak.)
“It will also result in a first, won’t it? I mean a Green governor and a Blue governor combining forces to put the House together.”
“Meeoowwyep, (yep); and a damn good thing too; they just managed to prevent the country being buried totally. But they still have to deliver what they promised from A to Z to keep the governors happy. That is chiefly in the hands of the Green boss; not that the new rajathuma is going to be just a bystander, but the Green man is the agamathithuma now, and the Parliament is in his charge and it’s his business to deliver,” purred pussy after a sip of beer and a pull on the coffin nail.
“Is that a problem?” scowled the owl.
“Well, during the electioneering period, politiccas of the new government, made assurances of all types to bait the voters. So although they have been cheated over and over again, our governors voted for them because they wanted to believe in those promises. Although some governors say they were either impossible or downright stupid, most voters believed them; they had to–things were pretty bad in the country. Obviously a majority thought that the United Green promises were more believable and the promise givers better laundered than the others in the running. Also, some members of the Betel club, the chief opponent of the Greens, trailed a queue of tale-telling stinks. Or maybe the Green politiccas sounded more trustworthy,” theorised pussy.
More muscle needed
“Thuhoot, whatever the reasons for voter preference, the Greens won; all they have to do is to stream into the House by the Lake and take charge.”
“Purshsh,” went pussy after some more beer. “Not this time; the Greens weak in a solitary delivery role are looking for more muscle through a national government. It’s a surer way of satisfying our governors confident of a quantum leap in their lives voted an apparently correct crowd with and correct visions to the House. The thought it might also end as another nightmare never entered their minds. Heck! It has happened before.”
“Whooooom,” crooned the bird after a long slurp of beer “Surely, our governors can expect some of the promises to be kept…? “Ah, that’s an interesting one. They say that in developed countries, over 60 per cent of election promises have been kept. Surprising figure, eh? But can you say the same about our governors’ in developing a country?”
“Thuhoot, yeah, that’s tricky–very tricky; nil, naught and a thimble full come to mind.”
“Purshsh! There you are. Do you also know there’s a difference between election promises and promises made outside elections? The latter type bears a feature of ‘offer and acceptance’, like in marrying your beloved when you ask, “Will you marry me, my precious?” and your heartbeat says “I do my angel,” to hang herself on you, ha-ha-haa-haaaa,” pussy laughed at his own quip. “But in election promises there is no ‘offer and acceptance’ contract.
If election promises are not met, voters are left high and dry–and they have no legal remedies.
“Jeeeeeze!” exclaimed the bird.”That’s a hell of a thing, no?”
“Meeoowwyep (Yep). I am afraid it’s a fact. My grandpa told me that issue had come up in England a long time ago when courts stopped public servants including politiccas breaking promises made to ordinary governors.
They called it ‘is-stopping’ or something; but it never worked in courts; maybe the judges were also appointed by politiccas of those times, ha-ha-ha. Now don’t look worried,” pussy purred when he caught the bird’s flabbergasted look. “There were too many issues involved I suppose. Still, our governors have an answer if politiccas don’t keep their promises. They just won’t vote for them at the next election.”
“Thuhooot. But isn’t the new rule ‘no elections for five years’? Gosh, that is a long wait to vote in another bunch of disaster makers. So a Green Front or a national front or whatever, better deliver. Election promises are damn cheap: our governors want delivery; it doesn’t matter who delivers the pizzas...”
“Sure, sure,” interrupted pussy throwing away the butt of his Benson.” The new bunch is lucky; they have five years to deliver at least 60 per cent of their election promises to satisfy our governors.”
“I know, I know,” hooted Ooty,“ but, what happens if they don’t deliver their promises?”
“They’ll be replaced by some never-do-well buffoons in Parliament. History has proved that our governors are damn good at doing that. But, first, we have to wait to see how good the new government wallahs would function as delivery boys.”