Monday, March 22, 2010

Politics and apathy

The coming general elections might be the most apathetic we've had in quite a while. The general public doesn't seem to give 1/100th the shit the candidates are giving when it comes to voting. People are still facing hardships: the cost of living is high, wages are low, and the Maharagama cancer hospital has run out of drugs and has to reuse catheters because the government isn't properly supplying them. Yet candidates are building massive campaign halls (reminiscent of what MR had built at Temple Trees during the Presidential Elections) all around, and spending massive amounts of money on campaigning. In the Colombo district Pachaayudaya, R. Duminda, Boggles and Wayima (a.k.a. Ayomaya Shakthiya) seem to be ahead on the spending. Where the money comes from is anybody's guess, but why the public isn't more concerned about this extravagant spending is even more worrying.

The fight for preferential votes do provide us with the laughs though. Pachaya had a huge cutout in front of the Pannipitiya flyover, and some Duminda supporters had decided to plaster posters of their candidate over Pachaya's mouth! And I wouldn't trust anyone who tells me that they didn't laugh when they saw Niroshan Padukka's poster, where he's posing like a flower girl! ;) At least the level of violence in Colombo seems to be close to nil, whereas in areas like Rathnapura (where Premalal Jayasekara, a.k.a. Choca malli, is running a campaign of terror) even candidates from the ruling party have found it difficult to campaign, so you can imagine what the situation is for the opposition.

The outcome of the election is not apparent at the moment, but I'm willing to bet that the UPFA will win. My best case scenario is that the chauvinistic elements in the government (the NFF and the JHU) as well as those in the opposition (the JVP) are eliminated in the election, and the centrists change the constitution to something with a more decentralised power structure and a weaker President and stronger parliament. The government doesn't need a 2/3rds majority to achieve this, since everyone will support a good constitution. Teamwork and bi-partisanship will produce better results and achieve a solution that's acceptable to all segments of society, instead of just the UPFA voter base...