If there was any certainty from the day this government
was formed an year back, it was on the fact that this shaky coalition will
not last for long. The last few weeks were macabre. The government was
like a patient gasping for dear life, on oxygen, saline and the paraphernalia
of life support. The last months also saw a sorry picture of political
skullduggery and vituperative politics of the likes not even seen in the
Premadasa era of impeachment politics. This political ugliness has not
only left the government and Parliament fractured but the general polity
damaged as well. If the country is lucky we will have zero growth this
year, and not a minus growth rate for the first time in history.
Though state apologists will no doubt say that there is worldwide recession,
nowhere is growth as bad as 0 per cent. What's factual is that there has
not been any governance this year. It has been a case of politicking from
crisis to crisis in a mindless craving for political survival. But suddenly,
there has been a critical mass of dissent from all the forces that are
just fed-up with the President's style of governance — or non-governance
as one might call it. The country now faces another election and another
case of large sums of monies being spent on an exercise of franchise.
The government is in total disarray in the face of the united front
being put up by the forces of the opposition. It is recalled that just
last month, the government tried to smuggle in laws which required the
newspapers and TV to divulge which party they are supporting at elections.
We objected to this despicable tactic to force us to support one party
or another. We do not support one party or one wobbly coalition against
another when it comes to polls. This week's developments in particular
are proof that political alignments with parties are fleeting, that many
of the players are men of straw, and that such alignments can mean nothing
in the political whirligig of our times.
What's obviously needed now is a free and fair election that is free
of coercion, corruption and fear. The notorious Wayamba provincial election
of not too long ago began a new chapter in crooked elections under the
PA government, culminating in yet another rogue election last year in October.
It should not be repeated this time under any circumstances.
This is the chance for the Commissioner of Elections to redeem the lost
prestige of his department. At least some of the laws which were previously
not available are now at his disposal and therefore this time the Commissioner
has no excuse but to deliver a free and fair election.
The press, the police, the political parties and the people have to
aid in this massive task of getting at least this time, a government of
the people, elected.
The country seems to have got another chance to redeem itself. A high
level of vigilance must be exercised by the political leaders themselves.
Political leaders and local candidates will have to come to some consensus
on election violence. They will in other words, have to watch out for themselves.
It's the people's responsibility to elect the party or coalition preferred
not only as local representatives but also as a vehicle to "deliver the
goods" to the larger electorate. The adults of the country have not just
a choice but also a responsibility of not electing a government whose leaders
look after themselves and their children, but electing one that secures
the future of the children of this country.