Change is not only about changing governments and politicians. Change is also about people taking up responsibility in holding governments accountable
There is also a perception this election would make the second preference extremely important
Vanloads of pupils are of parents who have created fake documents… wonder how many apartments have legitimately approved building plans
We are the most important Citizens right now. All Candidates need us to elect the next President of Sri Lanka for the eighth time tomorrow Saturday, 16 November, 2019. We are therefore treated with respect and are spoken of as educated, intelligent and as rational decision-makers.
We are told it is us who would elect the “right” candidate as the next President. Despite all that, all election manifestos have “promises.” Intelligent Voters that we are, are expected to swallow as progressive answers to the crisis we live with.
For the second day today, all official campaigning remains barred. But there is much campaigning especially via communication apps like WhatsApp, Viber, Telegram with direct messaging by supporters of most candidates.
Estimates and forecasts are being shared with different candidates named as the “winner” depending on the initiator’s political affiliation. There is also the perception this election for the first time would make the “Second Preference” vote extremely important with none crossing the 50 percent “plus” line to be elected on the first count.
Yet, from what is being talked about even in middle class circles, there is no culture and little understanding on how the “second preference” comes into play with all seven previous presidential elections deciding the winner on the first count.
Briefly, the “second” preference though not compulsory, can be marked in the numeral as “2” to a different candidate, after marking the vote to the preferred candidate with an “X” or as the numeral “1”.
There is also a third preference that can be marked as “3” if one wants to. In a scenario where no candidate polls the required 50 percent “plus”, the second preference votes for the two leading candidates from all other remaining candidates are sorted out separately and are added to the votes polled by them.
For easy understanding, if there are 100,000 preference votes to candidate “A” from votes to other candidates and if “A” has polled 5.5 million votes on the first count, then with the second preference vote his/her total becomes 5.6 million votes. Similarly, if “B” has polled 5.4 million on the first count and has 250,000-second preference votes, then his/her total votes become 5.65 million. Thus, on the second count candidate “B” becomes the winner on a majority of 50,000 votes. Two things are thus clear. One, on the second preference, the winner is the candidate with the highest number of votes and there is the possibility for candidate “B” to overtake candidate “A” to be elected winner. Two, there is no validity to the second preference vote marked in the votes of the two main candidates. It is, therefore, the second preference marked in other candidates that has validity and importance.
All such calculations apart what matters is, we would have a new president-elect by Monday afternoon the latest and that would be on the 74th birthday of Mahinda Rajapaksa.
One thing is certain. No victorious candidate will delay his swearing-in.
Thus after the presidential election, unless a resolution with a two-thirds majority is adopted in parliament in the next month or two, parliament elections will be scheduled in February or March the earliest, if the full “five-year” term is not sought for. Whatever that outcome would be, a complete change over in government would be required for the promised new rule from 2020.
Question is, does all that conclude and complete the responsibility of us as the Voter? While the answer should be a huge “No”, the praxis has always been “Yes”. The more educated, more conscious of the Voter, the urban middle class that demands the rule of law, a disciplined society is often the culprit in violating the law and is undisciplined.
One does not have to search for such irresponsibility. It is there on city roads morning and evening. Those who drive while chatting on their smart phones, those who drive on the wrong lane obstructing oncoming traffic, ignore traffic lights, when stopped for road rule violations try influencing the police by calling friends in high places, bribe the police to get away after violating road rules, are not a mere few.
Those middle-class parents who demand a corruption-free decent society but are themselves corrupt can be easily listed in many thousands, if pupils who come to high profile, branded popular schools in the city from far outside are counted.
All those vanloads and busloads of pupils are of parents who have created fake documents for school admission through numerous contacts with heavy bribing. The biggest scam every year in Sri Lanka is admission to Grade I in popular schools, that parents, principals and officials have taken for granted.
Wonder how many of the high rise apartments mushrooming in densely populated urban areas have legitimately approved building plans with all requirements met.
From their very look, with inadequate parking space, absence of common space for residents and lack of recreational facilities and space for children, they show there’s corruption on both sides; the investor and the officials involved. It is no secret this society is corrupt at every level although the popular slogan says “politicians are corrupt”.
No profession is clean and efficient. All professions are corrupt and selfish. Academics are no better. Therefore “collective good” is not important in this society among the urban educated.
That perhaps explains why there is no advocacy and no lobbying between two elections to have election manifestos implemented. Election promises honoured.
Civil society groups that make statements, question political integrity, demand democracy during election time, fade off after election or become semi-government patrons using their affinity to political leaderships. Since 1994 this has grown as a new fashionable trend in Colombo politics. The largest gathering of “independent” artistes, writers, journalists and social activists came on an independent platform to critically support the SLFP led People’s Alliance (PA) at the 1994 August elections. At a very successful public rally they held at Nugegoda, no politicians were allowed on stage. With the PA winning the election, most leaders of that independent group ended up with political appointments. It happened again in 2005 when another group of “independent” artistes backed the presidential candidacy of Mahinda Rajapaksa. Some even became big-time brokers and dealers.
Those who backed the 2015 “Rainbow Revolution” did it differently. They patched themselves up with the new regime through numerous committees and commissions. They made a great effort to protect themselves as “still independent” but their affiliation with the government came out every time they sat at media briefings to defend the government against all accusations and allegations it faced.
With supposed “independent” social groups disappearing after elections, what we see between elections are almost spontaneous and isolated agitations of affected people who demand redress over injustice they tend to collectively face. These are often suppressed and little is done over the demands.
After every election, every government has therefore gone about doing what their financial sponsors and collaborators expected and not what their voters need and what they have been promised.
Voters remain dormant and left out from all decision making, with democracy reduced to procedures.
“Change” therefore is not only about changing governments and politicians. “Change” therefore is also about people taking up responsibility in holding governments accountable, between two elections.
Democracy is not something that is doled out by governments. It is about trade unions, farmer organisations, independent professional and academic groups, consumer societies continually and regularly taking up issues on development and democracy with the government on a collective forum.
It is about retaining and broadening social space for a collective voice. That needs an active social movement, post-elections. Democracy and good governance come with a cost.
The cost of people taking responsibility in being a vigilant and active society. 2020 would demand such change, but will it have?
Manel Fonseka Friday, 15 November 2019 09:37 AM
'...the “second” preference...cn b marked...as “2” to a different cand., after marking the vote to the preferred cand. with an “X” or as the numeral “1”.' WRONG! If u r mark a 2nd
parakum Saturday, 16 November 2019 06:24 AM
Divine intervention will save this nation from Jarapakses.
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