A prudent move
The assurance given by President
Mahinda Rajapaksa that there will be no more elections until
2010 (when the term of the present Parliament ends) must be a
big relief to the elections weary public who have had to endure
a surfeit of polls in recent times.
Hardly had a gruelling Presidential election was over in 2005
the country was put through a Local Government election. Then
there was the Local Government elections to the Batticaloa local
bodies followed by the Eastern Provincial Council election. Now
hardly three months later we had elections to the two other
In 2004 too immediately after the General Election there was
a Provincial Council Election. One need not describe the
financial drain that the country would have suffered by holding
True we Sri Lankans are political animals and lay claim to a
vibrant democracy. But even this enthusiasm is bound to peter
out if elections are held as a matter of routine. President
Rajapaksa has also indicated that elections henceforth will be
held on their due dates.
Addressing a group of new recruits for the post of
Accountants in the State services, at Temple Trees on Tuesday
the President noted that the just concluded election to the
North Central and Sabaragamuwa Provinces enabled him to gauge
the pulse of the people.
He was in no hurry to go for a snap poll. Elections of course
are the lifeblood of a democracy. It is only a few countries
that enjoy the franchise whereby voters exercise their free will
to elect Governments.
By the same token the franchise is something held sacred and
its abuse could only lead to trifling of the democratic
exercise. Time was when elections in the country were few and
far between and the public looked forward to the hustings as a
welcome diversion from their mundane life.
Apart from elections to local bodies (following the expiry of
their life time) there were also by-elections under the old
first past the post system either when an MP passed away or was
unseated by an election petition. No election was thrust on the
people as is the case at present.The voters too showed
enthusiasm in participating in such elections since there was a
value attached to these elections held once in a blue moon.
Even though former President J.R. Jayewardene famously
declared he would roll the electoral map after the UNP landslide
in 1977 he too held by elections in selective constituencies
while appointing Chit MPs to others thus devaluing the whole
It is common knowledge that elections are costly affairs
which an economy such as ours cannot afford. Periodic elections
are bound to drain the country's coffers with little or no cost
There is also the polarisation of the electorate during
elections that is usually accompanied by bitter rancour and
acrimony among contending parties which is not the ideal recipe
for the much coveted unity that is called for in the present
Also to be factored is the now common spectre of election
violence that causes destruction to life and property the cost
of which has to be borne by the State.
The President also mentioned that the people had endorsed the
Mahinda Chintana at the just concluded polls adding that it was
a clear indication that the Government's development programmes
have found acceptance with the larger population.
This may have also influenced the President's decision to put
elections on hold and divert the Government's energies towards
development oriented pursuits. President Rajapaksa has decided
wisely not to burden the people with more elections in the near
future for the greater good of the country.
Those clamouring for a General Election at this stage should
also realise the negative impact this would have on the Security
Forces poised to capture the citadel of Prabhakaran.
We say this because the bitter rivalry that is bound to crop
up between political adversaries during elections could divert
attention from the main thrust of the Government in defeating
A General Election could also pose the danger of political
VIPs becoming targets of the LTTE at a time the terrorists are
looking for a moral booster to offset their battlefield
Elections although a virtue in a democracy that should be
nurtured should be properly phased out and held only on their
due dates, if they are not to lose their value and relevance and
inspire public enthusiasm.