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A tale of two elections - EDITORIAL

16 December 2019 12:02 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


he general elections in the UK are now over and done with. Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party whose platform was Brexit now, swept the board so-to-say, seizing seats from the Labour party in its traditional heartlands. Johnson’s Conservatives captured 364 of the 650 seats in the House of Commons.
Except for Scots in the north, who voted overwhelmingly for the resurgent SNP (Scottish National Party). A triumphant night saw them (SNP) take seats from all three other parties. The anti-Brexit Scottish National party won a sweeping victory in Scotland, seizing 48 of the 59 seats and setting the scene for it to campaign for a second vote on secession from the UK. 

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, said: “There is a mandate now to offer the people of Scotland the choice over our own future … Boris Johnson may have a mandate to take England out of the EU. He emphatically does not have a mandate to take Scotland out of the EU.” After a disastrous night, the Labour Party, was plunged into bitter recriminations after the party won just 203 seats, its worst result in 84 years. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said he would not lead the Labour party into the next election. 
Watching the results of the British election unfold, with the Conservatives steamrolling to victory, one cannot but help  draw parallels to the recently held Sri Lankan presidential election. At the Sri Lankan presidential election, candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) overwhelmingly defeated his rival Sajith Premadasa of United 
National Party (UNP). 

Another parallel apropos the result the Sri Lankan election, was the fact that in north of our country, President Rajapaksa was not the preferred candidate of the populace. In Scotland, Boris Johnson the champion of Brexit (getting the UK out of the EU) was also heavily defeated. And here the similarities ended. President Rajapaksa, in his first address to the nation, accepted he was not the preferred candidate of a majority of the people of the north and east, but called for a coming together of all people irrespective of their differences to rebuild the country. 
In the UK, premier Johnson no sooner the election results were out, was quick to inform the Scots, that he was not in favour of holding a second referendum on Scottish independence. 
Another difference between the British and Sri Lanka’s election was, while the leader of Britain’s Labour Party was quick to say he would step aside as leader of the Labour Party, the leader of Sri Lanka’s largest party in opposition -the UNP- does not appear to be ready to step aside and hand over the leadership of his party. 

The recent defeat at presidential poll has not resulted in a  shake-up of the party leadership. Not surprisingly, the UNP today is riven by internal squabbles, with sections of the party even claiming some of its own members conspired to sabotage in the party’s own presidential election campaign. 
The party next descended into a struggle for the post of ‘Leader of the Opposition in Parliament.’ Presently in-fighting for the post of party leader party leader continues amidst calls for a change in the party leadership. Unfortunately, though Sri Lankan’s claim to follow British parliamentary traditions, for some years now no leader of either of the main parliamentary parties has willingly relinquished leadership after an electoral defeat. 

It is time for all of us Sri Lankans to realise, whatever our political differences may be, is that for democracy to function efficiently in any country, a strong opposition is a must. Its time wake up, whether we like it or not,  UNP, the largest political party in parliament. But a parliamentary democracy cannot flourish without a strong opposition. 
The leadership and general membership of this party has to get its act together fast, especially in light of the fact that a general elections  are expected some time during the first half of next year, There is a need for/to build a new team and field a team which can provide a decent opposition in parliament. 
The situation within the party - UNP - at the moment is such, that there is little chance it could offer a challenge to the SLPP, leave alone defeat it at the next general elections expected sometime in April next year. 

To worsen the difficult situation, the UNP finds itself, persons in  positions of leadership are antagonising its political partners as well.  
Come on. Give democracy a chance. Build at least a strong opposition. 

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