This country`s biggest problem is its sickening preoccupation with unproductive partisan politics, which has taken precedence over everything else except cricket, talent contests on TV and soap operas, and eaten into the vitals of society. Economics does not make sense to most Sri Lankans who would rather kill one another in a bid to send some imbecile politicians to Parliament etc than step up their productivity and help strengthen the economy. That may explain why we are where we are economically.
Sri Lanka has suffered from `electoral diarrhoea` for the past two years. The government staggered Provincial Council elections unnecessarily and the country went to the polls, province by province, umpteen times until it got sick of voting. Then came the Presidential Election last January. Today, even before the indelible ink mark on the voter`s little finger disappears, a general election has come.
The presidential polls generated a great deal of enthusiasm in the electorate as it became a fierce gladiatorial clash of titans with the Commander-in-chief and his ex-army commander in the fray. But, this time around, voters do not seem to be so keen to vote. Today`s election has all the trappings of a bad play with a bad cast performing before a weary audience.
Apathy having thus set in, today the voter turn-out is likely to be lower than in January. Only the politically na ve will expect a nail-biting end or an upset win. The winner is already known.
The government has raised the bar for itself at this election. It seeks a two-thirds majority to change the Constitution. Its impressive performance at the last Presidential Election and the past few Provincial Council polls, where it secured a two-thirds majority, which is considered next to impossible under the Proportional Representation system, may have made the UPFA a bit too cocky. However, its target does not look realistic.
The UNF apparently gave up the fight even before the general election was declared. It put all its political eggs in Gen. Sarath Fonseka`s electoral basket, which got smashed. It may have thought that throwing in its lot with the former army chief was a wise move but it has turned out to be a huge faux pas. When the UNF joined forces with the JVP at the presidential election, it was preaching about the virtues of unity in justification of its marriage of convenience with a Marxist outfit but since Gen. Fonseka`s crushing defeat, its motto has changed from `United we stand` to `Divided we stand`. Instead of seeking a mandate to govern the country, the UNF is all out to prevent the government from getting a two-thirds majority!
The JVP is on a campaign to `save the saviour`. It wanted to be saved by Gen. Fonseka a few moons ago but now it has had to save him. The outfit is known for its `salvation` ideology. In 1971, it wanted to save the proletariat in the late 1980s it tried to `save` the motherland at the January presidential polls, it campaigned for `saving` democracy and at present it is trying to save `the General`. With its single issue campaign, the JVP has turned today`s election into a referendum on Gen. Fonseka`s detention. It seeks a mandate to release him. JVP leader Somawansa Amarasinghe said in his inimitable style recently that the first thing to be done under a DNA government would be to release Gen. Fonseka. It will be interesting to see how many people will respond to the JVP-led DNA`s call in terms of votes. The JVP`s real strength will be exposed once again today.
It is hoped that today s election will be free and fair the country will recover from `electoral diarrhoea` soon.