4 December, 2020

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Going Back To An Alliance That Can Win Elections 

By Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

The government has been dogged by negative public opinion on its failure to tackle what it promised during its election campaigns of two years ago. In the public perception it has yet to satisfactorily tackled corruption, bring about visible economic development or ensure the correction of war-related injustices. It has been losing popularity due to its inability to defend its performance on these issues. Marriages of convenience tend to get weakened in times of prolonged stress. There has been open bickering between the two main constituent parties of the government alliance. It is no surprise in this context that the government has been balking at facing local government elections. These have been postponed on various grounds for the past two years. The government’s justification with regard to not holding the local government elections has been wearing thin.

One reason given for the delay in conducting these elections is that the review of delimitation of electorates (wards, in the case of local government institutions), is not complete. First the issuance of the delimitation review report was itself delayed. Then the report was said to be insufficient. Now it has been accepted by the government but the start date for the electoral process to unfurl will be in another two or three weeks. There could be legal challenges, this time in the courts, to further delay the local government election date. It is reported that the delimitation report would be gazetted on February 28 to conduct the local government elections. An official of the Local Government ministry said that after the Committee Chairman Asoka Peiris handed over the report, the defects in it were rectified and amounted to 312 mistakes in 121 pages of the English report, 535 in 151 pages of the Tamil report and which were later corrected.

The government’s apprehension about holding the local government elections is that it may not do too well at them on account of having to compete both within itself and with other political opponents. This in on account of facing down a tussle between the UNP and SLFP as to what they want to do and what they should get. At the general elections of 2015 the UNP and SLFP contested separately. The larger number of parliamentarians from the SLFP is now with the Joint Opposition. The fear of the SLFP is that if there is an electoral contest they could be beaten into third place by the Joint Opposition. This would harm the credibility of President Maitripala Sirisena and his hold over the SLFP. In the absence of strong leadership, the continuing failure of the government parties to tackle corruption, bring about visible economic development or ensure the correction of war-related injustices will only weaken their position further.

New Constitution

The government has announced in parliament its intention to forge ahead with constitutional change and to consolidate it with a referendum. The government intends to go in for a referendum with the consent of all parties including the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) on the new Constitution. Leader of the House and Higher Education and Highways Minister Lakshman Kiriella said that it was the government’s objective to bring forth the new constitution, followed by a referendum with the support of the SLFP. The Minister said that the government would not form the new constitution behind hidden doors. He said there were certain political parties who were still forwarding their proposals for the new constitution. He also said that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa had said that the country needed to go beyond the 13th Amendment to 13th Amendment Plus. He added that the government would steer the new constitution within the provisions of the 13th amendment to the constitution and not go for a federal state.

The government’s declaration that it will go ahead with a referendum might come as a surprise. Previously government spokespersons had been saying that they would not go for a referendum as their election manifestos did not call for such. They also said that recent international experience showed that referendums for constitutional change proposed by governments were being defeated by disgruntled electorates worldwide, as in Colombia and Italy. A referendum on constitutional change in Sri Lanka can be potentially divisive as it can pit the ethnic communities against each other. The issues of the nature of the state, whether it would remain unitary or become federal, and the merger of the Northern and Eastern provinces have the potential to divide the ethnic and religious communities.

In anticipation of the constitutional changes to come sections of the Tamil polity with Northern Provincial Council chief minister C V Wigneswaran giving leadership are putting forward long standing Tamil demands for the right to self-determination and the merger of the Northern and Eastern provinces. A referendum opens up the possibility for far reaching and significant changes in to be proposed in the political structure. The present constitution has several clauses that are entrenched by virtue of the fact that they cannot be changed by a 2/3 majority in parliament unless accompanied by approval of the people at a referendum. The most important of these would be the clause pertaining to the unitary nature of state which gives to parliament the supreme power over every other institution.

Recreate Alliance

Article 2 of the constitution has been used to restrict the possibility of devolution of power to the provinces. It has permitted the governor of each province, who is appointed by the president, to override the decisions of the provincial councils or not give assent to them. All chief ministers of all provinces have complained about the overriding powers of the governor and the paucity of resources allocated to the provincial councils. However, the unitary state does not necessarily have to give the governor such powers or limit provincial resources. Therefore a new constitution that continues to retain the unitary state can also permit a much greater devolution of power and allocation of resources to the provincial councils. This may be the direction on which compromise that meets the interests of all communities needs to be found.

A referendum on constitutional change also has the potential to recreate the alliance that unexpectedly defeated incumbent president Mahinda Rajapaksa in January 2015. The former president called the elections prematurely due to confidence in his chances of victory. However, the coalescing of all the opposition parties and the fragmentation of his own, together with their alliance with influential civil society groups, led to a narrow but decisive defeat for the former president. President Maithripala Sirisena and a group of nearly 50 civil society organizations have agreed that the proposed new constitution should be subjected to a referendum. Their stand is compatible with that of the UNP, main coalition partner in the government strongly pushing for a new constitution.

The key to mobilizing the alliance that won the presidential election of January 2015 would be to find a suitable political accommodation that makes the new constitution acceptable to all parties and all communities. If the new constitution proposes changes that any ethnic or religious community is strongly opposed to, it will not get the support of that community. Unless the majority of all ethnic and religious communities agree, the proposed new constitution could fail at the referendum, which requires the votes of the majority. It is therefore important for the constitutional drafters to ensure that the concerns of the Sinhalese majority are met even while those of the Tamil and Muslim minorities are also met. If the government alliance can prevail at the referendum it will also pave the way for it to contest the overdue local government elections, and provincial elections too, on a similar footing. The referendum on constitutional change can bridge the gap that currently exists between the political parties in the government alliance. If agreement can be obtained amongst the same parties it will be possible to recreate the election winning alliance to replicate the outcome of the presidential election.

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Latest comments

  • 8
    1

    Do you want to put Humpty Dumpty together again?

    It is not a question of building an election-winning alliance: it is about government with a clear purpose.

    There was only one issue in 2015: Mahinda Rajapaksa.
    Now there are other more pressing issues.

    I am concerned about the prospect of there being no “free elections” of any kind in this country.

    • 3
      0

      Dr:N.M.Perera did say that the last free and fair election was the one conducted under Mrs: Sirimavo Bandaranaike in 1977, when he saw the new constitution in 1978 by JRJ.

  • 2
    0

    It is more than evident that these two parties are only interested in consolidating their power in whatever institution that they possibly can, and not concentrating on developing this country, which should be their first priority.
    Why on earth are we maintaining a system which has proved beyond all reasonable doubt, is not at all efficient, and start a dialogue to go in for some other sort of system which would deliver what the voters need.
    Let the Delimitation go on, and let the elections be held according to the Constitution of the country.

  • 2
    4

    Even the UNP Yahapalana suckers who are in the PAYE bracket, are cursing Batalanda Ranil for handing out their hard earned dough to Diaspora Mahendran and his Daughter & Son in Law’s family Finance Company.

    They must be taking Prozac when they see the fat profits in Aloysious Bi Monthly Profit Report.

    I am told even our Sinhala Buddhist Australians are pissed off about ETCA and Bond robbery, that they are organizing a protest meet in Melbourne to meet and greet Batalanda Ranil..

    That is how popular this Yahapalanaya is ?.

    Wonder who Jehan has in mind. to help Batalanda Ranil form this Election winning Alliance to give Vella TNA the North East,

    And break up the Country for Ranil and his LGBT alliance to rule with the Elite on top and the Dalits at the bottom.

    • 3
      1

      KASmaalam K A Sumanasekera

      “I am told even our Sinhala Buddhist Australians are pissed off about ETCA and Bond robbery, that they are organizing a protest meet in Melbourne to meet and greet Batalanda Ranil..”

      Good idea, however have they ever organised protest against thieving clan and war criminals? By the way who do you think the key note speakers on the redneck protest day? Possible speakers HLD M, Shenali D. Waduge, Dayan, C.A. Chandraprema, Nalin de Silva, ……………..

      • 0
        2

        Dear Native,

        Your New Yahapalana buddies Suren Surendran and his LTTE Diaspora never allowed the great Leader Mahinda to set foot in London or Melbourne..

        Do you suffer from selective amnesia? mate..Or is it pure Alcohol abuse..

        • 1
          0

          KASmaalam K A Sumanasekera

          “Your New Yahapalana buddies Suren Surendran and his LTTE Diaspora never allowed the great Leader Mahinda to set foot in London or Melbourne..”

          If the leaders are great London and Melbourne should visit them wherever they are, in fact the world will visit them.

          Only the crooks visit the crooks.

  • 3
    3

    The majority voters has learn bitter lessons for 2015 January election.

    What is that (UNP- of CBK- SLFP) they have promised to voters in deeds they are doing an opposites to that.

    The People of Sri Lankan has lost their national identity, country going towards of fragmentation of land and dismantle whole system of democracy norms that accepts by past 67 years.

    The People’s of Democracies lost all hopes and dreams which “good governances and rule of law” by the way of the minority community gain many unpredsedent benefits, that including paralysis of security forces and three services national security at edge of collapse.

    Well planned the Regain and Reorganization of LTTE terrorism in a New form of official leadership of North Council Chief Minster, who has been not given mandate to carry by Ballots politics only but now is which turn into politics of gun Rule terrorism. TNA voiceless to the certain extant.

    By and large specially promoting Tamil Separatism in North by propaganda, agitation and newly build political cells an organization activates by foreign funded Diasporas of Tamils back by leadership of North Council of Chief Minister. The CM of north is judge turn Tamil separatist who advocated for Eealm regime in North in New face of “democracy”!!!!!!!!!

    CM of NC has fully undertaken that Mission of Tamil separatism which that want to extended for Eastern province to established Tamil Empire in South Asian by amalgamated Tamil Nadu at centre of Tamil state Empire of New World Map.

    • 0
      0

      Good thinking Saman Adikari. So now you seems to understand how you will feel to be a discriminated and oppressed minority under the new Tamil state Empire? That is how you must think and understand humanity.

  • 2
    1

    The majority voters has learn bitter lessons for 2015 January election.

    What is that (UNP- of CBK- SLFP) they have promised to voters in deeds they are doing an opposites to that.

    The People of Sri Lankan has lost their national identity, country going towards of fragmentation of land and dismantle whole system of democracy norms that accepts by past 67 years.

    The People’s of Democracies lost all hopes and dreams which “good governances and rule of law” by the way of the minority community gain many unpredsedent benefits, that including paralysis of security forces and three services national security at edge of collapse.

    Well planned the Regain and Reorganization of LTTE terrorism in a New form of official leadership of North Council Chief Minster, who has been not given mandate to carry by Ballots politics only but now is which turn into politics of gun Rule terrorism.
    Timely TNA become voiceless to the certain extant separatism.
    By conducting new move for devolution of power by TNA for FEDERALIST STATE ADVOCATED BY CBK AND HER FATHER SWRD OF SLFP’s.

    By and large specially promoting Tamil Separatism in North by propaganda, agitation and newly build political cells an organization activates thought-out Jaffna peninsular by foreign funded Diasporas of Tamils back by leadership of North Council of Chief Minister.

    CM of north is a Judge turn Tamil separatist who advocated for Eealm regime in North in New face of “democracy”!!!!!!!!!

    CM of NC has fully undertaken that Mission of Tamil separatism which that want to extended for Eastern province to established Tamil Empire in South Asian by amalgamated Tamil Nadu at centre of Tamil state Empire of New World Map.

    • 2
      2

      Sinhale is the only country that can not be named by the majority name, majority language is not the country’s language and foreign cultures want to replace sinhala culture and civilization.

      All carried out by the chosen people who thinks the country is their property including the children of those english speaking mudliers who knelt in front of British.

      They are running the country for the last 70 years.
      Jehan is also a christian who is writing to promote his own interests.

      • 1
        0

        jim softy dimwit

        “Sinhale is the only country that can not be named by the majority name”

        Sinha Le – Blood of Lion, why not? The state has the authority to change the countries name any time it wants to, passports should read issued by the competent authority Republic of Blood of lion.

  • 0
    0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

  • 3
    0

    The 2015 Presidential Election was for a Regime Change and after much deliberation a common candidate with a common programme was found.

    But the common candidate betrayed the country at the first oppurtunity and became the SLFP President soon after his victory.

    The victors formed a coalition government with the defeated and called it a national government.

    The victors got cold feet by the mere mentioning of the name Mahinda Rajapakse.

    The victors are not bold enough to lead the country resulting in chos all round.

    Only the brave succeed

    The cowards are doomed to fail.

    They imagine the worst scenario and compromise on every issue.

    I f there is a referendum, both parties will put forward similar programme imagining to outwit their competitors.

    It will not a real referendum, but a watered down version to hoodwink the masses.

    Are we going to have Mahinda rajapakse regime eternally with different persons but with the same corrupt dictatorial tendencies?

    The people should wake up!

  • 1
    2

    Jehan did not at least mention about corruptions, the bond scam and the name of Ranil wickramsinghe.

    It looks Jehan and the NGOs aka Civill society some how want Ranil back.

    So forget corruptions or robbing and destroying the country.

    Jehan says just get elected.

  • 0
    0

    Dear Mr. Jehan Perera and all participants,
    “The referendum on constitutional change can bridge the gap that currently exists between the political parties in the government alliance”
    It is now a well known secret why this alliance was made in January 2015. If all the mandates given to the voters were meant to be implemented, by now the new yahapalanaya would have completed most of it and steered the Country out of the precipice. If not there will be real process in implementing. Instead it has gone in the reverse allowing the same old so called culprits to have major roles in decision making. It has now proved without a doubt both the long time political opponents cannot do anything to override their dear friends of the past regime! Unless and until another big showdown occurs towards which the Country is getting steered, the new Constitution will be rendered meaningless and the whole new alliance is seen a waste of time!

  • 0
    2

    Readers should absorb the following answers from SLFP stalwart, Minister Susil Premjayanth in this morning’s Daily Mirror, and bear in mind that without the ‘official’ SLFP’s support , the ‘new constitution’ or even amendments cannot secure a two thirds majority in parliament, let alone succeed at a referendum. The Constitutional coat must be cut according to the parliamentary cloth.

    “Q With reference to this Constitution making process, there is this allegation that the current stalemate is due to the SLFP not submitting its proposals. What is your response to them?

    A:The SLFP has clearly indicated that if the new Constitution making process leads to a referendum, it is not appropriate at this stage. Before a referendum, you have to settle other issues.  You find other social issues-economic crisis, unemployment issues etc.  One has to be mindful of what is happening in other countries. We are of the opinion that this is not the ideal time to go for a referendum.  At a referendum, people will not confine their decisions solely on constitutional matters. They would vent their anger against the government on other matters.  Therefore, we are of the opinion that we should do some amendments to the existing Constitutions without calling for a referendum. Later on, it could be considered. 
     

    Q How do you expect the parties like the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) to fall in line with your stand? 

    A: fought a war for years. We were suffering from this issue for 65-70 years. You cannot give solutions at once. They are in a hurry. But, we are not. There should be a permanent solution. To do that, you have to convince the people. 
     

    Q Do you advocate power devolution?

    A: yes to a certain extent only. You cannot amend the Constitution or replace it with a new one leading to the partition of the country at any stage. You see what is happening in the north. NP Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran goes to the eastern province and canvasses for the amalgamation of the two provinces. There is a Supreme Court ruling here. The Chief Minister is also a retired Supreme Court Judge. First of all, he should read the relevant judgment. You cannot go there and utter certain things.” 
     
    – See more at: http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/Referendum-ill-advised-for-Govt-at-this-hour-Susil-123781.html#sthash.z3KgqqUP.dpuf

  • 0
    0

    Democracy is all about How to win an election? How to sustain the victory and how to win the next time.

    The well being of the people and the economic development are only byproducts and secondary to the main objective of winning.

    The 2015 presidential election was about how to defeat Mahinda, personal hatred of Mahinda was the dominant theme.

    It was felt that to win an election, you need a common candidate. The common candidate is not from any political party but common to SLFP,UNP,TNA,SLMC,JVP but common to all political parties.But the common candidate was in fact SLFP Candidate cheating all in the process.

    It was felt that all the problems faced by the country is due to executive presidency and the abolition is the panacea for all the evils and the people will live happily thereafter. Corruption and nepotism will vanish and the Tamils and the Muslims will have their way.

    Instead of dissolving parliament immediately after the presidential election, a hundred day programme was conceptualized and imaginary obstacles were discovered and the 19th Amendment was paraded as the realistic substitute for the abolition of the hated executive presidency.

    Now we have SLFP President and UNP Prime Minister.No more common president.

    Now Jagan Perera wants single power center and winning election alliance.

    After winning first local government election and the Provincial Council election, then? Another winning coalition for the referendum to bring a new constitution call it 2017 constitution, only the name is different but almost the same 1978 constitution with the executive Presidency, unitary government, foremost place to Buddhism and 13A Minus.

  • 0
    0

    Referendums are good; but they can be rigged too like the one that saw Parliament’s life being extended by Machivellian JRJ

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