Meh Democracy

WPC Ballot Card - Pic by Indi

For a successful election good voter turn-out is essential. An enthusiastic and motivated public is a key factor for a nation that is embarking on a fresh beginning and a new period of it’s history. But for voter enthusiasm to be there; politicians and voters should want the same thing. Unfortunately, with Sri Lanka’s general elections around the corner, there is still a large gap between the expectations and wants of the public and the politicians.

The War

The end of the war is a good thing for the country. But it’s very bad for short-termist politicians. War creates ample room for all forms of corrupt activities like siphoning off of state funds, operation of complex narcotic networks, engagement in general thuggery etc. In 1984 by George Orwell, the government purposely maintains a war (or an illusion of its existence) in order to control the public through the means of fear and by instilling in them a need to suffer in order to be patriotic.

When the blanket of war is taken off the people will have a brief period of relief where the opportunity to breath the very air of freedom will be something they are grateful for. But soon, as freedom begins to be taken for granted, they wake up and start smelling the garbage. The prices of goods, corruption of the powerful, public services etc. have already begun to be discussed in households across the country.

Disconnection

Most of the government propaganda flowing out of temple trees is still based on building its image as a victorious dispeller of terrorism. They seem to be as yet unaware that the public focus has already shifted towards their daily bread and that the end of the war is now a phenomenon that the adaptable people of Sri Lanka are fast taking for granted.  But the whole farce that happened with the abolishment of the budget is a strong indicator that the government very well knows that revealing financial incompetence now will not do them any favours in the elections.

The opposition is no better. Actually they are far worse. They should be talking this opportunity to revitalize themselves and position themselves as an entity capable of diplomatically guiding Sri Lanka successfully through the minefield that is the post war economy. Instead they spend time whining and stupidly contradicting every single government policy that is put forward, even the good ones. Like the current directive to reduce interest rates for example.

Failed elections won’t mean sudden unprecedented dramatics like the lack of a government of course. People will vote, albeit in smaller numbers, but they will only vote out of a disjointed sense of affiliation with the current political rhetoric.

The election will not be a milestone in Sri Lankan post war political history. There will be no party that will be successful and more stable because there is no party that speaks what the public needs to hear. Nevermind if they actually deliver or not. There will be no vision for the nation, and no vision means no real progress in any direction.

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5 comments
  1. maf said:

    Good post. Brings about a couple of questions:
    1. are the next elections (both presidential and parliamentary) going to be about the economy and less about winning a war: “it’s the economy stupid”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It%27s_the_economy,_stupid
    2. unfortunately democratic principles get in the way with what maybe needed here (http://www.lbo.lk/fullstory.php?nid=1512094891) – so what do you think the people want? I actually think they want to hear the truth and how long it will take to get to the promised land. they know the war was costly and peace will be even more expensive but set a date and work towards that..

    • Whacko said:

      yeah i read that Wijetilleka write up. Thought his recommendations to ‘give the country over to Nelson Mandela’ for 10 years etc were a bit precocious and unrealistic. Lee Kwan You and Mandela were partly successful cos they understood their people and had their support. You need local leadership to prosper IMO. But he is absolutely right in saying that our leadership has failed us.

      As for the chief concern being the economy; Sri Lankans hardly think beyond the next subsidy or tax break so even if the economy plays a big role, serious long term economic policy reform demands are sadly not what we can expect.

  2. Chavie said:

    damn the opposition… people badly need alternatives, and they’re providing none!

  3. Good post Whacko!

    I think we’ve always had a decent voter turn-out…the quality of those voters is questionable though. Too many of our citizens vote for ‘the colour’ or for the party that their family has supported for decades, regardless of what that party has in store for the country. It’s changed slightly due to the complete and utter incompetence of the opposition, but it’s not enough imo.

    And the thing about saying what the people want to hear…the people want to hear what’s best for them, not what’s best for the country (and the two aren’t always the same).

    • Whacko said:

      yeah true. All they want is short termist solutions too i guess. it should be the leadership that has the vision isnt it?

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