By Sumanasiri Liyanage –
There have been many indications that the next presidential election would be advanced and be held in January 2015. Even astrologers have begun to say that holding presidential election in January would be favorable to the incumbent. The Third Amendment to the Constitution has made holding a presidential election if the incumbent is prepared to do so four years after the last election. Ex-CJ has already raised that if the President Rajapaksa could contest although the Eighteenth Amendment has allowed a person to contest more than two consecutive periods. Here my intention is not to discuss the legal nature of the issue but to deal with the political strategies put forward by the opposition forces in Sri Lanka in facing President Mahinda Rajapaksa in the election in January. If the Supreme Court decides that Mahinda Rajapaksa cannot contest there will not be a presidential election in 2015.
There have been three main views on how the Sri Lankan opposition should face President Rajapaksa in the next Presidential election. First view suggests that the main issue today is the issue of defeating Mahinda Rajapaksa and eventually his family’s hold in power. Reasons given are inter alia strong tendency towards fascism or totalitarianism, deep rooted corruption and nepotism, heavy dependence on loans especially from China, regime’s increasing tension with the West (so-called international community) and poor economic performance. The argument is that no matter whatever happens this regime should be defeated and it would be good for the country. Hence, a winnable common candidate has to be named as the candidate opposing MR. This view that seems to be sponsored by the Western embassies is shared by the traditional business class, the UNP, NGOs, liberal democrats and the pinkish left. For them the removal of MR from executive presidential post is adequate to reestablish democracy, rule of the law and to promote economic development. In other words, they appear to believe that there have been no structural flaws that generate above mentioned issues and problems. As we have seen in the past, this strategy would produce circular results creating a situation to pose the same issues in a future presidential election. What are the mechanisms that would be in place to counter anti-democratic tendencies inherent in the system? What guarantees could be given that the new regime would adopt that would reduce cost of living, raise standard of living of the masses, reduce concentration of wealth and promote economic development? This whole idea of regime change without reasonable structural change will be tantamount to a repetition of time and again the same cycle.
The second view has made an attempt at least partially to address this flaw of the first view. The movement led by Rev. Maduluwawe Sobhitha has highlighted that the problem is not only the persona of Mahinda Rajapaksa but also the constitution that gives enormous power to the executive president. Hence, it argues that first and foremost the system of executive presidency should be abolished. And the movement has presented a road map as to how the implementation of its proposal would be carried out. It is a two issue short term road map including the abolition of the executive presidency and the reactivation of the 17th Amendment to the Constitution. Of course as many observers have indicated that there are many flaws in this strategy. It depends so much on the existing Parliament in implementing these changes and never even mentions the need of a constitution assembly if the present Parliament fails or refuses to adopt the resolution for the abolition of the executive presidency. One may also argue that a program that focuses only on two issues is not adequate to launch a strong campaign against the incumbent president. Given the nature of the strategy that is essentially short-term, this criticism may not be fair. The legitimacy of the second view depends in my opinion on two factors. First, it should be able to unleash a process that will lead to more reforms going beyond the stated double issues. It depends of the forces that back Rev Sobhitha’s candidacy. Secondly, it should clearly inform the public what is their alternative if the announced road map fails to work. This would raise the demand for a provisional government and for a constituent assembly.
The third view does not focus on immediate regime change, but on building a social left movement to confront all kind of policies that are anti-democratic, and against popular classes. Sri Lankan experience has amply demonstrated that democracy and social justice depends on the strength of the social left. Social left means new structures, processes, attitudes and values. Third view advances the idea that the intervention in the next presidential election should be on a comprehensive program that covers all aspects of the current crisis with a focus on this medium term objective. Hence it holds the view that social left fields its own candidate in the next presidential election.
Can these different views be linked? I will turn to this issue shortly. First, let us take the first and the second views. At least some of those who hold the second view may accept a retreat and would support the first if they think the first and foremost task of the next presidential election is the defeat of MR his regime. Hence, even successful, this will not produce results that would help popular masses. Linking the first with the third is impossible since there is no overlapping of interest between two groups. Can the third be linked with the second? If social left can develop a new mechanism of campaign (something like AAP campaign in India) and new structures, it can identify the second as a point of departure. Point of departure should not be a complete solution. It should posses transitional capacities that depends on structures the campaign creates, institutions it builds, new values it inculcates and new attitudes people advances.
*The writer is a co-coordinator of the Marx School. E-mail: email@example.com
Lorenzo / September 16, 2014
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Damma Asoka / September 17, 2014
Only Madam Chandrika Kumaratunge with the guidance and mentoring of Sobitha Thero can defeat Mahinda Rajapaksa and the corrupt electoral apparatus that now exists in Lanka.
CBK can split the Sinhala and SLFP vote and the minorities and women will vote for her..
UNP, Ranil and Sajith are a sinking ship.
The opposition needs to launch a VOTER EDUCATION and Voter registration campaign in support CBK soon.
Amarasiri / September 18, 2014
We are sorry, the comment language is English – CT
Tamil from the north / September 16, 2014
Keep Basil Horapakse out of the ballot counting areas and the opposition will win.
Genuine Lankan / September 16, 2014
If majority of the sri lankans are faithful even the poor bastards, they wont be poor, there wont be rogues thieves doing politics, educated of course will decide the fate of the country. Present educated are silent unedcated are robbing killing investing public tax money for unfruitful waste enviormentally harmfull project just to rob comission. UNLES WE VOTE OF THESE HOOLIGANS Sri Lanka will be another chineese colony. EG HONGKONG. And we are destabilizing the indian security and this will cuase harm eventually. EG JR IDIOTS POLICY supporting US without India. Sri Lanka is TINY ass small country. Present rulers think we can control the whole world and we dont gave damn rats ass about the west or india. WE are going to get fkd again.
Amarasiri / September 16, 2014
“EG JR IDIOTS POLICY supporting US without India”
They all are after their Own self-Interest.
After their Self-interest is served, they will leave. Then locals will have to sort it out then. De JaVu… Have seen it before…
Iraq …. now ISIS…
Libya, Stria, etc.
Genuine Lankan / September 17, 2014
More than those “countries are after thier own self interest” the ruling clan is after “thier own self interest only”. They want to rule the country with their family and rob millions from public. I would rather not worry about other countries but the present rulers who are destroying the country. I will support the other countries who are talking about human right values, proper governance. At least little right that are left in sri lanka is due to the west otherwise it wiould have been a totally dictatorial regime.
BBS Rep / September 17, 2014
You have not spoken about one real possibility. Will the Rajapaksa family mafia leave quietly? All evidence suggest that the voter is utterly disillusioned with the Rajapaksa regime. If there is a fair election it is a foregone conclusion that the MaRa regime will be sent packing.
However the incumbant have a lot at stake to up it and leave. MaRa and his cronies have enjoyed unprecidented benifits power and impunity had given them. They have many skeletons in the cupboards. They have a mountain of ill gained wealth to protect. They have committed horrendous crimes for which they have not been tried. They have an army of ingratiate public servants who need to be protected. By hook or by crook Mahinda will stay. When the Rajapaksa brothers finally get to read the writing on the wall, BBS and JHU hordes will be let loose on the minorities. Attacks on JVP with counterattacks will be manipulated. Army will attack Tamil gathering and again commit mass murder of JVP members. Marshal law will be proclaimed indefinitely. The quasi dictatorship of the present day will be turned into a full blown dictatorship. The Chinese and the 57 OIC countries will recognise the new leadership. All will be hunky dory for the Rajapassas for a long time to come.
Sengodan. M / September 17, 2014
Does not the national question figure in here?
The Professional / September 17, 2014
None of the Ministers in Prez MR’s Cabinet appear to be interested in the top post in governance of Sri Lanka. They have not submitted undated letters of resignation. Without fear or favour, they appreciated everything Prez MR does and go on to validate all under Mahinda Chinthanaya.
I am trying to figure-out whether Prez MR is trying to emulate Peter the Great of Russia. ” Peter the Great was a Russian czar in the late 17th century, who is best known for his extensive reforms in an attempt to establish Russia as a great nation. …….(Short comings: Under Peter’s rule, Russia became a great European nation. In 1721, he proclaimed Russia an empire and was accorded the title of Emperor of All Russia, Great Father of the Fatherland, and “the Great.” Although he proved to be an effective leader, Peter was also known to be cruel and tyrannical. The high taxes that often accompanied his various reforms led to revolts among citizens, which were immediately suppressed by the imposing ruler. Peter, a daunting 6 1/2 feet tall, was a handsome man who drank excessively and harbored violent tendencies.
Peter married twice and had 11 children, many of whom died in infancy. The eldest son from his first marriage, Alexis, was convicted of high treason by his father and secretly executed in 1718.) ” (http://www.biography.com/people/peter-the-great-9542228)
thilan / October 16, 2014
The Problem now we are having is not amending this constitution Since Mahinda rajapakse is the great ever strategical and economical administrator ruled this country since independence. Now we can’t give this country again to a poorest strategical and economical administrators Like JR, Premadasa or Chandrika.
What ever critisisum made as creating the President Mahinda rajapakse as a dictator like hitler ,we have to vote for him for his economical and development performances and the economical revolution that he made in this country ( brought the GDP of the country from 20.66 billion USD on 2004 to 67.18 Billion , great income in tourisum, reduced the poverty level up to 5% , Highest ever foreign investment brought in to the country, enhanced the public sector from 600000 to 1.4 million, unbe livable infrastructure development made on a short period of time, made the only south Asian country providing electricity for 365day with out an interuption. Etc). If a person exremely poor in economical management, stragical management and decision making skills like Ranil wicramasinghe or Chandrika cant even handle this giant economy at least for one month.
In srilanka to keep this economical momentum and develop this economy on day by day
We are willing or not as management professional working in srilankan private sector we have to vote for mahinda rajapakse since we do not want to see the disaster of this economy. There is no any one in this country can handle this economy other than President Mahinda rajapakse which was revoulutionly created by him. That is the truth.