Foreign Affairs

Generating Sense Of The Presidential Elections

By Izeth Hussain

Izeth Hussain

Izeth Hussain

Say not the struggle naught availeth – Arthur Hugh Clough

Practically nothing straight can ever be made out of the crooked timber of humanity – Immanuel Kant

Following the Presidential elections which are extensively regarded as obtaining been “stunning”, most Sri Lankans are now engaged in attempting to appraise their significance. We have to start by trying to establish why precisely Mahinda Rajapaksa lost. In my post “Following the elections”, published on January ten but sent to the Editor nicely just before the election outcomes were announced, I wrote, “If Maithripala Sirisena squeaks by way of, or wins with a substantial majority as I have been confidently expecting, the prospects will be much brighter for a restoration of a fully functioning democracy”. The underlying cause for my confident expectation was something that has been properly-known considering that people started living under the State, by which I mean amongst other items a centralized physique holding exclusive coercive energy. It has been established beyond dispute that energy tends to go to the head, an excess of power tends to go excessively to the head, from which follows folly and hubris, the pride that goes just before nemesis, the fall. It seemed to me that MR especially by his participation in the creation of an utterly egregious Muslim ethnic problem showed folly and hubris of an order that had to lead to his nemesis.

Rauff and Maithripala                                    That was the underlying cause for my confident expectation of his nemesis. The a lot more distinct causes had been as follows. Like virtually everyone else I anticipated a massive minorities vote against him. But given that the minorities are only 25% of the population their vote would have been far from sufficing to defeat MR. For that there had to be a substantial drop in the Sinhalese vote for him. I was confident about that drop primarily for two factors, the initial of which was that men and women – especially in the modern globe – want adjust since there is a prospect of alter for the greater or due to the fact a government has become stale by way of lengthy durance. MR had been in energy for ten years and the SLFP for twenty years, and it seemed affordable to count on that a significant proportion of the individuals would really feel that adequate is sufficient. The require for governmental alter needs analysis since it seems to involve a lot far more than the superficial attraction of novelty: the want for the new could spring from a deep human desire for self-renewal. My second purpose for expecting MR’s nemesis was that the modern day market place-oriented capitalist economy breeds inequality and hardship for a significant proportion of the individuals, and this seems to be true even when the economy is reasonably effectively-managed – as it apparently was under the final Government. To bolster my argument I cited books by Thomas Piketty and John Gray, and given that then I have come across Joseph Stiglitz’s The Price of Inequality. I need to have not go into particulars about how financial inequality and hardship could influence on the voters.

By now there have been several professional analyses of the election results and the picture seems to be reasonably clear. 80% of the Tamils voted against MR, and an even larger percentage of the Muslims did so. MR got 55% of the Sinhalese votes, representing a clear Sinhalese majority, but that figure represents a large drop of 10% from the 65% that he scored in the previous election. These statistics can of course be interpreted in various methods. MR declared at a public meeting in his property electorate that he lost due to the fact the minorities in the North, East, and the Nuwara Eliya district voted against him. They can also be interpreted to mean that MR lost simply because the minorities voted against him massively and in addition he failed to get an sufficient proportion of the Sinhalese votes to compensate for that loss. Each interpretations could be valid but MR and other folks who have been pushing the racist neo-Fascist line would prefer the former interpretation. That would point to a sharpening of the ethnic polarization.

However, even though the ethnic polarization continues we need to now view it in the context of a new political configuration that has been taking shape in recent years, a improvement that I believe is of immense significance for Sri Lanka’s future. I refer to the convergence of our two main parties, the UNP and the SLFP. The cross-overs that have been taking location on both sides is certainly a deplorable phenomenon considering that they are motivated for the most part, though not necessarily often, by the drive for money and power. But there is a good aspect to the cross overs since they signify that the policies and practices of the two parties have turn into largely interchangeable, although there could be significant variations of emphasis. The market-oriented economy has come to remain for each parties, the welfare network has not been dismantled, and now that the Cold War is more than their foreign policies are much more or significantly less the very same.

The convergence signified by the cross overs became spectacular when the SLFP stalwart Maithripala Sirisena crossed over to become the widespread Opposition candidate of a coalition in which the main element was the UNP. He contested the elections although retaining his position in the SLFP, and he won the Sinhalese votes mostly in the regions traditionally dominated by the UNP. Soon after his victory he has been established as SLFP leader, but he heads a Cabinet that consists largely of UNP members. The Island of January 21, in but one more of its perceptive editorials, has noted a glaring anomaly. MS will have to select the SLFP’s Prime Ministerial candidate for the Basic Elections scheduled for April. “He will be faced with the unenviable process of major the UPFA’s election campaign from the front and convincing the public that his personal party’s prime ministerial candidate is much better than the Prime Minister he has just appointed – Ranil Wickremasinghe.” Other anomalies have been aired in letters to the Editor. The explanation for them is the convergence to which I am pointing.

The convergence obviously calls for in-depth analysis which I can’t undertake here. Fundamentally it has to be along the following lines. The transformation effected in 1956 had a truly revolutionary character. It represented the upsurge of the lower middle class and the underprivileged castes led by the 3 low-nation castes against the hitherto dominant Westernized bourgeoisie of the Western littoral. For the most portion they lacked higher education, expert qualifications, and they lacked the capital and expertise to thrive in company, which meant that they could make their upward ascent only via a large state sector. That was the basis for the “socialism” that prevailed in numerous Afro-Asian nations. Since the ‘seventies the market economy has prevailed over the state-centric a single, there has been phenomenal economic growth, and the erstwhile lean cats of the SLFP have grow to be fat cats not significantly different from the UNP fat cats. That seems to be the most important purpose for the convergence.

I will now situate our ethnic problems in relation to the new political configuration that is taking shape due to the fact of the element of convergence. The election benefits certainly signified an exhilarating victory for democracy against dictatorship. They ought to also be noticed as an exhilarating victory for democracy against the racist neo-Fascism for which MR became notorious right after 2009, which was ideal noticed in the humiliations heaped on the Tamils in the North and the blatant backing for the anti-Muslim campaign. The victory became achievable not only because of the votes of the minorities. Even more crucial was the truth that a large segment of the Sinhalese individuals joined them.

I see a new political configuration taking spot with our two main parties converging and becoming more democratic and less racist than in the past, with the enormous gain that our politics will turn into less conflictual and more consensual, conducing to some sense of national unity in this badly divided nation. But the issue will stay of hard-core racists who are present in each key parties and have been specifically virulent in the SLFP. They should be extruded from each key parties to kind a neo-Fascist Party. The international climate for such a party is quite favorable. Practically each Western country these days has neo-Fascist parties, and huge financial and other backing would be assured from Islamophobes in Norway and other Western nations. The prospect for neo-Fascism in Sri Lanka is fairly vibrant. Nonetheless, I think that the prospect for democracy is even brighter.

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