I detect a cunning twist in the voting system that threatens the democratic process, in the way the voter’s choice of party or candidate is ingeniously used by political parties.
Under the prevailing voting system, the voter has to first vote for a party or a group and then indicate his/her preference. The various parties are twisting the election process by fielding war heroes, nationally honoured sportsmen, and film stars.
A few examples will illustrate my point:
General Sarath Fonseka has been put up as a candidate for Colombo district by the Janatha Vimukthi Party (JVP) combine. There is bound to be a large number of voters, not of the JVP but of the United National Front (UNF), the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) and other parties, who either consider General Fonseka a war hero or see him as a victim of persecution.
|General Sarath Fonseka: War hero
||Ranjan Ramanayake: Film star
||Sanath Jayasuriya: Sportsman
They will vote for him, regardless of the voter’s party preference. In order to vote for Sarath Fonseka, the voter must vote for the JVP combine first.
This would allow the JVP combine to fill their depleted vote base, and at least two JVP combine members will be able to creep into Parliament. This is a masterstroke by the JVP to use the people’s sympathy. Sarath Fonseka has fallen into a trap.
Sanath Jayasuriya is contesting Matara district. There is bound to be a large number of voters, not UPFA, but of the UNF, JVP and other parties, who consider him a hero and will vote for him, thus hugely increasing the UPFA voter base. This also applies to the other national sportsmen and nationally and internationally recognised film stars on the UNFA District lists.
Ranjan Ramanayake is contesting Ratnapura District from the UNF. He too is bound to attract a large number of votes, not UNF but of the UPFA, JVP and other parties that consider him a hero, thus hugely boosting the UNF voter base.
The above examples will suffice to prompt intelligent voters to rethink their votes. Let us vote for the party we believe will serve us best, and not be carried away by political gimmicks. If a candidate belongs to your preferred party, then certainly give him your manape. Do not fall into the trap set for you by political parties.
Finally, consider whether these national-level sports stars and film stars have given the country any of the tremendous wealth they have amassed. Have they done any substantial social service or helped the poor? Did they help the tsunami victims? Should they go to Parliament to serve the country?
Or are they merely looking for new means to increase their personal wealth and influence? Dear voter, use your head, not your heart. If not, we will be taken for a ride and made a laughing stock to the rest of the world.