By P. Soma Palan –
The Editorial of the Daily Mirror of 7th August, under the heading “A Candidate’s vision cannot be winning Polls alone”, highlights the decadence and degeneracy of Political Parties. It is an obvious and self-evident truth that Governments elected, based on Political Parties, are innately corrupt, inefficient and motivated by Party Interest over National interest. The Editorial states that “the attitudes of Political Parties indicate their vision towards the Country and the people. They just want to come to power, nationally and locally, and plunder the Nation’s wealth.” It further states that “Political Parties are hell bent and are competing each other in rousing communal tensions and thereby gaining political mileage”.
This is an honest view about Political Parties, and their creature, the Politicians. This essay is to supplement and complement to what is said in the editorial. The evils and ills the Political Parties generates on the country have been pointed out, over and over again with monotonous regularity, by knowledgeable writers and intellectuals in the media. Nevertheless, we tenaciously cling on to Political Parties, as would a husband and wife cling on to each other, in a ruptured marriage. It seems no one seriously want to divorce the Political Parties that binds the people and the Political Parties. All educated and informed people know the root cause of the national disease, except the blind Party Politicians, and yet do not show any seriousness and enthusiasm to cure the disease, by exterminating the Political Party virus, afflicting the Nation.
I have in a previous Article titled “From Monarchy to the tyranny of Political Parties”, which appeared in the Daily Mirror of 26th May 2018, referred to the evils and ills of a Government based on Political Parties. I made a case for the abolition of Political Parties in the Electoral System and replace it with independent individuals, emerging from the constituencies for election of peoples’ Representatives to rule the Country. I have shown the benefits that would accrue to the Country if a Government is elected sans Political Parties. I refrain from repeating the details, here. However, I reiterate some salient defects.
1. Political Parties based elections are undemocratic: Although it is hailed in theory that” Democracy is a Rule “of the People, by the People and for the People” in practice it has degenerated to a Rule “of the Political Parties, by the Political Parties and for the Political Parties”.
2. In a Monarchy, there is only one Ruler. But, in the Parliamentary Democracy, the Representatives elected by the people, based on Political Parties, there are multiple Rulers, who behave as sub-Kings. Political Parties are more or less owned by few select Families who consider that the divine Prerogative and Privilege to Rule the Country is vested in them. As in a Monarchy where the hereditary rule of succession goes to next of kin, the Political Parties too, follow the hereditary rule of succession of their family’s sons and daughter and closest relatives, to rule the country. Every single Politician belonging to a Political Party has one goal only, and that is to ensure his progeny succeeds him and thus perpetuate family rule of the country. Can one call such an ingrained system of Rule, a Democracy? Vast mass of able, educated professionals, who are of an independent caliber and have a sense of individuality, and do not wish to be enslaved to a Family Political Party, are thus excluded from making a real contribution to the development of the country, by participating in the Government.
3. Do the people truly elect their Representatives to Parliament? The answer is a definite, no. Political Parties foist their chosen Party members as nominated Candidates for elections, without any regard for their character, quality, educational propensity and competence. In fact they have already pre-decided the peoples’ representatives. The people merely, endorse the nominated candidates by casting their votes to anyone amongst the different Political Parties contesting the elections. As an example take the imminent Presidential elections to be held this year end. The Political Party, SLPP has nominated Gotabhaya Rajapakse and the UNP has nominated Sajith Premadasa, as their Presidential candidates. That is, the Parties have already decided who should be the President. The people only confirm it by electing one of them. The people had no choice in the selections of the candidates. Can this be deemed as the will of the people? Can one call this democratic and expression of peoples’ will. The answer is no. It is in reality the will of the Political Parties, nay, the sovereignty of the Political Parties and not that of the people. If the people chose one of the Independent candidates out of several that emerge from the constituencies in a General election, or island wide in case of the Presidential election, one can truly say it is the will of the people. In theory, anyone has the freedom to contest elections, provided the stipulated eligibility conditions are fulfilled. But in reality, can an Independent candidate, outside the Political Parties, contest an election and win? As a remote possibility one or two may win. But they have to remain in the Opposition, as ineffectual dummies. Even if all the Independent candidates get together as a group and contest all the Constituencies, they cannot succeed to form a Government, in competing with organized might and the financial resources of the Political Parties. Thus the independent, qualified and the able, by enforced default, refrain from elections for governing the country. The net result as Plato said to the effect that “if the educated and the intelligent refrain from governing the nation, we allow ourselves to be ruled by our inferiors”. How truly this maxim is exemplified in every Government elected from Political Parties, since we regained Independence in 1948.
4. Abolish Political Parties from contesting Elections: In order to induce independent Individuals to contest Elections, the abolition of Political Parties is a necessity. For this to happen, framing of a New Constitution is a sine qua non. The new Constitution should change the existing Electoral System, inter alia, with other required changes, like the abolition of the Executive Presidency. How and who can frame a new Constitution and enact it constitutionally, other than the incumbent Government. That means, the Government elected from the Political Parties, have to enact a new Constitution. Will such a Government be so magnanimous and patriotic minded to do so? Will it readily commit Hara Kiri and self-annihilate itself? Therefore, neither the incumbent Government nor any future Government with Political Parties will ever frame and enact a new Constitution, abolishing Political Parties contesting elections. The strangle hold of Political Parties in the Governance of the country is irremovable. The Nation is under bondage to the Political Parties. Therefore, an extra-Parliamentary/ Extra-Constitutional method has to be adopted to frame a New Constitution.
5. Extra- Parliamentary and extra-Constitutional method: I am an ordinary layman and not a legal expert on Constitutional Law. On the basis of my common sense, I envisage a way out of this Constitutional dilemma. I do not know what I suggest is right or wrong or feasible.
(a) The Judiciary is the bulwark and protector of Peoples’ rights. It is the arbiter between the Citizen and the State. If so, it can intervene in such a dilemma when the Government of Political Party(s) in Power, will never banish itself. Therefore, a team of eminent Legal experts on Constitutional Law from the Civil Society, can frame a New Constitution for the desired changes.
(b) To Petition the Supreme Court to issue a Direction to the Legislature to take steps to enact the New Constitution framed by the Civil Society into Law, after ascertaining the will of the people at a Referendum.
(c) By majority vote if the people say “yes’ to the new Constitution, the incumbent Government should be dissolved and a General Election should be held on the electoral basis of the new Constitution.
6. The General Election to elect the Peoples Representatives to Parliament:
(a) Nominations to be called from all eligible independent individuals for all constituencies island wide. Candidates could emerge from the constituency itself, that is from people themselves, or from outside the constituency of their domicile.
(b) Campaigning to be limited to one public meeting for each candidate. No posters, banners or Cut-Outs to be permitted. Candidates can only issue leaflets with their photo, about their Profile and their Plan of action, if elected .Only House to House campaigning permitted.
(c)Election outcome is to be decided on the principle of “First past the Post”.
7. Country to be governed on the Model of a Corporate Business Organisation
(a) The Government shall be formed in the same manner how a Company, a Professional Organisation, would elect its Chairman, Managing Director and the Board of Direstors.
(b) In the same way, all the elected Representatives at a General election to meet in Assembly at Parliament and elect the Office bearers by nomination and vote, for the Speaker, Deputy Speaker and the Prime Minister.
(c) The Prime Minister will have the discretion to appoint his team of Ministers and Deputy Ministers.
(d) The President shall be elected by the Parliament. An eminent person of National stature from outside the Parliament, by nomination and vote. He shall be the nominal Head of the State, with limited powers and functions, similar to that of India. It would be more democratic if members of all the Provincial Councils also vote for the election of the resident.
(e) The Leader of the Opposition will not arise as there will not be an Opposition with the elimination of Political Parties. All elected MPs will participate in the Government of the country. All other remaining MPs will be appointed to the Executive Committees, more or less in equal number, under each Minister as the Head. The Ministers shall allocate duties, functions and responsibilities to each member of the Executive Committees, such as overseeing the Departments and Institutions coming under its purview. The absence of an Opposition does not mean there will be no debate and discussion on Bills, Motions and Resolutions. Decisions and approval of the Parliament will be decided by vote.
8. Benefits of a Non- Political Party (s) Government
The benefits of a Government without Political Party or Parties are immense and varied:
(a) A Government without Political Parties will be truly a National Government. It will provide opportunity for talented and capable representatives from minority communities to share power as Ministers without restriction. Minorities will have a sense of belonging to the country.
(b) Political Stability. Governments will be stable. It will run its full tenure of Office until the next election. No Room for manoeuvring and conspiracies by the Opposition to unseat the Government, by No-Confidence Motions, sabotage or subversion of its work.
(c) End of Coalition Governments. Shaky Governments manipulating for majority strength by buying and sale of Opposition members for high bids at an Auction, by offers of Portfolios and Perks will end.
(d) Inter-Party and Intra-Party rivalry will a thing of the past .Ugly scenes of Politicians fighting each other with fisticuffs, throwing and dashing of Parliamentary objects, Chili powder, will also cease. Decorum and decency of Parliament will be restored.
(e) No scope for Bribery and corruption as MPs, Ministers are all individuals with no group solidarity. There will be mutual checks between them and no room for collusive action to make deals.
(f) Simplification of elections.
(g) Business community funding for elections with vested interest or even foreign funding and interference in National politics will have no place.
(h) Cluttering the streets with Banners, Cut-outs, posters and polluting the environment will be thing of the past.
(i) Trade Unions will not have political leadership. Political Parties cannot use them to destabilize the Government.
(j) There will be immense cost saving, all round.
(k) Death-knell of Family rule of the country.
(l) Main focus will be directed towards socio-economic development of the country.
(m) A Meritocratic Government will be installed.