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Dogfight politics Finding principled politics through LG Councils and the NCM

6 April 2018 12:00 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


The LG results prove that the new electoral system is a historic blunder.

The SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem is threatening to take drastic action as the UNP has gone back on its word

Can one argue that the Joint Opposition presented this NCM based on a principle, in the light of the history of the group?

The jubilation of newly elected heads of the local councils would not last long

The messy situation arisen in many Local Government bodies after the February 10 elections for them had so far been eclipsed by the No-Confidence Motion (NCM) presented by the Joint Opposition against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

The way the Local Council members acted during the election of chairmen and deputy chairmen of their respective councils has created more problems than solving existing ones.

This proves that the new electoral system under which the February 10 elections were held is a historic blunder.

In some councils where the United National Party (UNP) had won the highest number of seat members of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) have been elected as chairmen whereas in some others the opposite had taken place.

This has been the result of the members of one party voting against their own party candidate for the chairmanship. In some places, the party that came third in the election had been offered the top post.

The Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC) led by former Minister Arumugan Thondaman had an understanding with the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) headed by President Sirisena, prior to the election and a CWC member was sworn in as a Minister accordingly.

However, going against that understanding the CWC joined hands with the SLPP to form the Local Councils in the plantation areas.

The SLFP, which is the main coalition partner of the UNP, had in several local bodies supported the SLPP to elect the chairmen.

The UNP and the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) contested in several places under the UNP’s elephant symbol with an understanding that the mayoral posts would be offered to the SLMC.

Now the SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem is threatening to take drastic action as the UNP has gone back on its word.

Earlier he also threatened to take a decision on the no-confidence motion against the Premier as well unless the UNP kept its promise, in spite of the promise having nothing to do with the No-Confidence Motion.

The only party that had managed to secure the highest number of seats, as well as the top posts in certain councils, was the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) which contested under the Ilankai Thamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK).

They succeeded in obtaining the support of the Eelam Peoples Democratic Party (EPDP), their arch enemy during the war to win the chairmanship of the Jaffna Municipal Council (JMC) where the ITAK was in a delicate position.

Instituting the councils by appointing chairmen and deputy chairmen would not be the end of the game as the Opposition parties in many councils have more members than the ruling party.

The jubilation of newly elected heads of the local councils would not last long.

They would not have any assurance that the parties that supported them during their election would vote for the motions they present in their councils in the future.
The smaller parties would take the Mayors and the Deputy Mayors hostage at any time threatening them to topple their administration. This would create a chaotic situation in many councils throughout their term.

This wouldn’t be a temporary mess as it is a direct result of the recently adopted mixed electoral system.

The proportional aspect of the new system accompanies with it the danger of instability, with several parties collectively bagging more seats than the ruling parties, as happened now in many local councils.

President J.R. Jayewardene, who had long been cursed for introducing the Proportional Representation (PR) system in 1978, prevented this instability by introducing the bonus seats for the winning parties and a cutoff point to prevent mushrooming very small parties from entering the scene.

His moves were viewed as measures against the proportionality of the strength of political parties and the bonus seats and the cutoff point was done away with when the new electoral system was introduced.

Interestingly, all political parties in Parliament since 2003 have to take the blame for the current mess, since the new electoral system was a product of a Parliamentary Select Committee.

It was passed in the House as a law in 2012 and only the ratio between the PR and the First-Past-the-Post (FPP) system was changed during the present Government.

The behaviour of all political parties, except for the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) with regard to the institution of local councils and the NCM against the Prime Minister is a clear manifestation of unprincipled politics.

The JVP did not join the dogfight in electing top posts of the councils and took a firm stand on the NCM based on its merit.

Other parties used the motion for other political purposes, disregarding the essence of it.

The question posed to the political parties by the NCM was whether the Prime Minister was responsible for the Central Bank bond scam and the inaction on the part of the law enforcement authorities during the anti-Muslim riots in Kandy.

Though the UNP’s opposition to the motion was obvious, it cannot absolve itself from the bond scam in the light of its members from the beginning, having attempted to cover-up the fraud, while defending the fraudsters.

The SLFP, the UNP’s partner in governance wanted the Prime Minister to step down, especially for the UNP’s role in the bond scam and it was reported that President Maithripala Sirisena had sought the opinion of the Attorney General on his powers to remove Wickremesinghe from the post.

It must be recalled that it was United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) General Secretary Mahinda Amaraweera, who first lodged a complaint with the Bribery Commission on the bond scam.

The SLFP wanted to sever links with the UNP after the LG elections over the issue. However, after weighing up several options the President and the SLFP backed away and decided to put up with the same UNP.

The party was vacillating on the issue of a huge fraud just because it wanted to stay in office.

Can one argue that the Joint Opposition presented this NCM based on a principle, in the light of the history of the group?

They have handed over this motion while many corruption cases against the leaders of it pending in courts.

Some other smaller parties also used the motion for their political purposes disregarding the seriousness of the allegation contained in it.

Some constituent parties in the TNA suggested that the TNA leadership should use the motion to pressurize Wickremesinghe to meet their demands such as a political solution to the ethnic problem.



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