‘Representative Democracy’, has ended up as a totally misunderstood and misrepresented concept in Sri Lanka as neither the ‘Electors’ nor the ‘Elected’ so far had proved that it was a purposely driven process. It would have been different only if the ‘Electors’ knew what they wanted and ‘Elected’ understood what the Electors wanted.
It is evident that the governing principles of the political parties have been lost or ignored. Themes have changed from professionalism to emotions resulting in hatred and suspicion
The fact that the ‘Electors’ were not advanced enough, they could be easily misled. They could be reached through prejudices which could generate both kinds of signals, positive and negative. That affected potential ‘candidates to be elected’ and obviously created a very serious deviation from the true needs of the nation.
Party politics in elections
The belief that ‘Party Politics’ would facilitate true Democratic Representation has now been reduced only to a simplified meaning given to that system which evolved over the years. Political parties are a reality but the principles that made ‘a political party’ a tool in bringing out the wishes of the people, the ‘Electors’ seem to have lost their bearing.
UNP and SLFP led front do not have drastically different principles when it comes to the main objectives. The variations may be there but such will be only in values. For example, both parties have mentioned ‘Guaranteed Prices’ as an incentive offered to growers. The approaches to ‘Foreign Investment’ are also almost same in principle and varying only in methods to be used.
That way, more than the principles of a party, the individuals have become more important. The moment it becomes individuals, it also becomes a desperate struggle and resort to very destructive measures at each other and to fend off such coming from the contenders. This divides all the politicians into two main categories, the ‘Corrupt’ and the “Pure’. However, the history that is almost forgotten shows that even those puritans who try to paint themselves as ‘Saints’ had passed periods where their past also had looked questionable.
This leaves only one way out for the ‘campaigners’ and that is nothing else but to resort to various measures to convince the ‘Electors’. It is with such a background we have inched towards the ‘Parliamentary Elections’ due on 17th August 2015. The main issues have been very conveniently forgotten.
Now it has been reduced to one simple truth and that is the necessity to win the sympathy of the ‘Electors’ to be in favor and to reject those who are from the contenders.
What happens to representative democracy?
It is evident that the governing principles of the political parties have been lost or ignored. Themes have changed from professionalism to emotions resulting in hatred and suspicion. While the two main parties, the UNP and SLFP led front are in a desperate struggle to establish good name the small parties of minorities have chosen their agendas to get elected in impressive numbers to become ‘King Makers’ and to carve out the best possible portions disregarding all the norms and ethics in order to make the best use of their being Minorities. Their becoming more concerned about preserving their bargaining powers, knowing very well that this is a land that can be made use of to bring about a very comfortable environment for all. In the case of Tamil people, of course, there is a very special situation due to mistakes as well as opportunities lost in the past. There had been instances where ‘Elected’ misbehaved or over reacted making relationships to suffer, and we all know how much it affected us.
Bringing about a just solution for the Tamil Question is a major issue any newly elected government will have to give priority attention. It has to be achieved without allowing this country to become fragmented. There also, the main issue below the surface is economic disparity and the absence of ways and means to bring more benefits to those people. In the South also, it is not different. ‘Economic prosperity’ has become an expression very regularly misused. The whole country needs priority attention towards ways and means to bring about economic prosperity.
Outcome of the Election
The way it is indicated, it is very unlikely that either UNP or SLFP led Front will get a comfortable majority to form a government and in a way, it should be considered a blessing in disguise as it will pave way for more parties to come together to work towards a meaningful future for our nation.
Therefore, it shall be up to the ’Newly Elected’ to leave aside party politics and to work towards the general well being of our nation. It does not matter which doctor gives the right medicine as our undisputed aim is to save the patient. Political parties shall be the doctors, and if they get together in their efforts to save the nation, can there be any other better way out ?