Saturday, July 23, 2011

The fight for preferences - the worst of Sri Lankan elections

I will not go into explaining the whole election process, except to say that once a party is selected, then a person has to choose 3 preferences within that party. In the elections held in SL today, there were usually 29 candidates seeking election from a list, and depending on the voting pattern anything up to 15 candidates could theoretically get elected into the Pradeshiya Sabha.

It is important because how well you have scored in your preferences will determine how far up the pecking order you get. This results in unseemly brawls of candidates actually telling voters not to vote for their rivals in the same party, but to caste the vote specifically for the one or two of their choice.

In this election, most of the violence and the one reported death was as a result of the factions within each party. Whilst the Governing Coalition is known as the United Peoples Freedom Alliance, as it is made up of a huge number of parties, you would expect people to fight various figures in other parties of the Alliance as the Alliance collectively have put forward the names. However when people in the UNP the main opposition party also fights amongst their own candidates, then you have a serious loss of voter confidence in the feuding party and this leads to a liability in the future, when one seeks real power.

The only practical way to combat it is by using party discipline properly enforced, to ensure there is no infighting and by that also create a hierarchy in the list, so the preferences also are regulated to a degree, but gives the individual candidate express permission to canvass votes from the whole area and not just restricted to his immediate sphere of influence. I should be allowed without fear to canvass the whole district, It is up to the voter to give me a vote instead of someone else, based on my hard work. I should not be denied access as is the case in many of the poll related violance that takes place.

Let us all recommend some codes of practice to all who seek election and let us also request the Parties to severely censure and give a black mark to those who resort to violence. This kind of nasty poll related violence should be punished within the party too.

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