Sunday, 23 November 2014

Common Candidate Unveiled: Whither future of this country?

Soon after the proclamation of the presidential election the joint opposition has unveiled the long-awaited common candidate, Former UPFA Minister and Chairman of the SLFP Maithripala Sirirsena was declared as the opposition 'common candidate' yesterday evening at a press conference held at New Town Hall, UNP has pledged their unanimous support to the former minister at the presidential election to be held on the 8th of January 2015 . It has to be said that it is quite an audacious decision on the part of Mr. Sirisena considering the plight of his predecessor General Sarath Fonseka who contested the presidential election as the common candidate in 2010. The latter who was the principal architect of the 2009 war victory was court marshaled and sent to prison, his civic rights remain withdrawn to this date.

It appears to be a prudent move by the UNP to field minister Sirisena for the presidency as he is the type of personality who could easily win the Sinhalese rural vote base (which the UNP have been continuing to distance itself from), this will be a crucial factor which will determine the outcome of this election. This arrangement also becomes handy with regard to winning the support of all parties of the joint opposition as JVP and JHU may have certain ideological issues in backing a candidate from the UNP. The Abolition of executive presidency and reinstating the independent commissions being the main agenda behind Mr. Sirisena's campaign one would expect the JVP would pledge their support to the common candidate in due course, however there may be some resistance by the JVP for the proposition of UNP leader becoming the Prime Minister in the event MS secures victory.

As far as the SLFP voter base is concerned one cannot expect MS to trigger a major shake up since it would be seen as an effort to make UNP leader the executive PM in the eyes of the typical SLFP voter. Lot will depend on how far the joint opposition is successful in luring UPFA defectors in to the coalition, president will no doubt try to take counter measures to make sure no more MPs cross over. Where UNP voter base is concerned it is critical that they are kept reinforced as they might become apathetic to this proposition evoking bad memories of what happened to the UNF government in 2004.

If a president Sirisena in 2015 honors his election pledge to abolish executive presidency, reinstate the independent commissions, introduce reforms to the electoral system it would no doubt be a crucial turning point in Sri Lanka's political history, at a time when there exists a virtual dictatorship with unlimited powers vested in the hands of the executive where rule of law has flown out the window.