Last Updated : 2019-08-17 21:19:00

The voter lost in a political quagmire

18 July 2019 01:05 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Sri Lankans are talking about the absence of elections in the country, but no one is taking to the street in protest of voters being denied of using their franchise.

At the present no party seems to be serious in its approach to the much looked forward to elections, which in a way makes us guess whether top political parties are privy to some secret information as to why elections are not being held. Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshappriya has said that Provincial Councils Elections should be held first because this election has been long overdue. But he has said in an interview with a Sinhala Weekend newspaper that popular political parties are not in favour this type of small election. 

The reason for this could be that big political parties, like the United National Party, might not perform well at such an election. Big players in the political scene don’t like small parities performing well at provincial level elections. A good example is the Pohottuwa Party sweeping the boards at the last LG Polls. 

The Elections Commissioner has aired his view as to why people are not seeking the assistance of the law, so that the Government will be forced to set the stage to conduct elections and thereby voters would get to exercise their franchise. 


  • The Government continues to survive inside the closed doors of the parliament
  • Premier Wickremesinghe has nicely played the democracy game and wooed the minority Tamils

Deshappriya has said that he in his role as Elections Commissioner can’t seek the assistance of the law to conduct elections. According to him there is no provision by the law to back an attempt made by the Elections Commissioner to force the government to conduct elections. 

The lack of elections also reflects badly on the people as well. The citizens of this country have over the years allowed corrupt lawmakers to rule over and dictate terms to them. The absence of elections in a country doesn’t speak much about democracy. 

Though the presidential elections are much looked forward to’its the provincial council elections which are closer to the hearts of the people. Eight months have lapsed since the provincial councils have finished their terms and the people have taken their non-function very passively. Forget the elections for a moment, have the people of this country uttered a word when ever the petrol prices were raised unreasonably during the past; an action that people would resort to even in European countries when the government tries to tighten the belts of people through unfair means. 

The present elections snag is the result of there being a barrier to adopt the new election laws because the delimitation report presented to parliament hasn’t been gazetted. If this election is to be conducted the new law has to be repealed by a two-thirds majority in parliament; thus paving the way to revert to the old elections law. For the record the president is expected to obtain a Supreme Court ruling on whether the old law would prevail in the event the new law is put aside. Elections Commissioner Deshappriya is also expected to meet the president on this regards when the latter returns to the country.

In this backdrop the government still holds the clout within parliament. This was proved beyond doubt when the JVP’s attempt to move a no-confidence motion against the Government was defeated by the Wickremesinghe regime by 27 votes. 

The Government continues to survive inside the closed doors of the parliament. Outside it the voices of dissent are loud and demand that the regime be thrown out. But as critics have pointed out the majority of the voters are ignorant about the laws of the country. They also seem to think that the Elections Commissioner is not using his powers and not pushing for elections. These thoughts are far removed from the truth; which boils down to the fact that Deshappriya doesn’t have a mandate to force the government to conduct elections. Deshappriya has said in an interview that the majority of the people don’t understand this. 

The Elections Commissioner has aired his view as to why people are not seeking the assistance of the law, so that the Government will be forced to set the stage to conduct elections and thereby voters would get to exercise their franchise

The Sri Lankan voter has voted largely by following his or her heart. When Mahinda Rajapaksa was voted in as president in 2005 there were some people who aired the view that they cast their votes for this man from the south because he was the only candidate with a mustache. The mustache is considered as a sign of manliness and surprisingly these little details take an elections candidate a very long way in a tiny nation like Sri Lanka. Even if the country conducts the presidential elections before any other election, the ‘war mentality’ that the people harbour is likely to make them vote for an aggressive leader who’d opt for a military style administrative system. 

Without elections held for a long time, democracy has been already defeated to some extent. We have also heard firebrand monk Ven Gnanasara Thera affirming that a democratic approach to governance hasn’t served this country well. If the present regime is unable to conduct elections due to a legal snag and the people responded passively without demanding for an opportunity to exercise their franchise, it might give a dictator politician the idea that this nation can be controlled with an iron first if he assumes power. The manner in which Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe ruled his nation has not been erased from our minds. 

Premier Wickremesinghe has nicely played the democracy game and wooed the minority Tamils to back him. He is assured of their votes in the event there is an election. For the record he survived the recent no-confidence motion thanks to the Tamil vote in parliament. 

This government’s motive of clinging to power is clear by acts such as offering tabs to school children, ensuring media freedom and catering to the interests of USA and India; the latter country is said to have the ability to influence who becomes our next head of state. 

The election outcome of this nation which was quite predictable in the past has become quite unpredictable; largely because too many players and too many fancy political theories are being floated. It’s not as easy as whether to vote for Ranil or Mahinda, or Fonseka or Mahinda. We now have to find a candidate whose mind we can easily read, so that the mask he is wearing falls before us. Seeking the truth in spiritual terms can be easier than finding a candidate who nurtures genuine thoughts. This is how complicated the election set-up in Sri Lanka is! 

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