I thought I wouldn’t vote, but Sarath Fonseka made me think twice. And I went on to discuss and analyze the situation with few friends.
Of the things I didn’t like about Mahinda’s governance, first is the supposedly Taliban style laws. But a closer look reveals that laws themselves aren’t Taliban type but the people who back them up and cheer for them are. Since that’s not the topic of this post, I’d try to write about that in a separate post.
Secondly, state expense on maintaining the large cabinet and the un-controlled corruption in the parliament, police and basically whole government service. To his excuse, he had to maintain a majority in the parliament, and that required buying in support from corrupt elements. But that doesn’t justify corruption with-in his own ranks and the government service.
Sarath Fonseka, no doubt is a great general. As oppose to military leaders like Kobbekaduwa he’s not someone who’s loved and respected within the army, rather he’s feared. His entrance to politics and the cause of his candidacy is rather doubtful; if he wanted to maintain his status; he could well have retired or serve as a diplomat. If he wanted to serve the country, I’m sure there must have been better options than to compete against his former commander. And his new, conflicting, statements that gives the full credit of the war victory to himself are just pathetic. That too shows his inflated ego and immense arrogance.
What I see as the intent of his candidacy is to get back at Rajapakshas (Mahinda and Gorabhaya) for some personal quarrel. Up till now most of his speeches are about how he’s mistreated and what he deserves. Some of his media statements are evidence for his hyper-ego.
He does not have an agenda of his own as of now and is backed up by the un-holy alliance of UNF and JVP. It would take nothing less than a miracle for those two parties to agree upon one agenda.
One of the major promises of the common candidate alliance is to demolish executive presidency. I personally fail to see the evil of it. And if not for the executive presidency, I doubt the war would ever be won. But it’s true that it’s a lot of power for one man. But it has worked out relatively okay for now. I wouldn’t want to change anything about it.
So, what if Fonseka wins?
I think he’d just try satisfying his ego as much as possible. He might even try to take revenge from some. But apart from that he’d just be a nominal president. I doubt he’d do anything really good or really bad. What matters is the general election that follows.
If Fonseka wins, that would probably be by a very thin margin. And for the general elections, JVP and the UNF would split, so it is likely that the general election would be won by the UPFA, again, by a very thin margin and probably with a parliamentary representation less than 50%.
That scenario leaves the country with a president who is new to the political arena and democratic ruling, and a very unstable government. The smaller parties who would form alliances to form a government would have much more control over the governance. So I think that would be worse than the current situation. The unlikely scenario of UNP winning the general election with a thin margin would be much better for the country than that.
The other scenario if Fonseka wins, which is most unlikely, is that the parliament would unite in demolishing the executive presidency. Even then, no party would be able to gain a vast majority in the parliament; which would still leave the government (be it UNF or UPFA) unstable, which in turn would have bad consequences for the country.
What if Mahinda wins?
Most likely scenario is that Mahinda would win with a thin margin. It would affect the general elections and the UPFA would win that also with a thin margin. Again, UPFA would have to buy in support from the elements of the opposition to establish a majority in the parliament; and in the process pave the way for corruption the same way as now. So this scenario wouldn’t change much in the country than now.
If Mahinda could shoot the moon, and win with a very thick margin, and if that reflects in the general elections as well, then there’s a slight - very slight - opportunity for things to improve in the country.
For now, I see that as the only hope. But there’s a chance that I may change my mind again before the elections…