Is it democracy?

– Thinakkural Editorial

(Auguat 25, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The elections for the North Central Sambragamuwa Provincial Councils are over. While you read this editorial, majority of the results will have been released. What ever may be the verdict, it is appropriate here and at this juncture, to discuss the political culture in this country.

One is likely to question as to whether the verdict given by the people in the past at elections for these provincial councils were democratic or not. Democratic election should be free and fair. Election is a time when the people exercise their franchise to elect a party of their choice.

In the neighbouring India the Election Commission has the authority to conduct an election. It is not a weak body like the Election Commission proposed under the 17th amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution. The Election Commission in India is an institution enjoying a great degree of autonomy and it enjoys the credibility of the people of India.

During the election time, not only the political parties but also the government officials and the police come under its purview. Neither the government nor the opposition parties can control the Election Commission.

Sri Lanka which aims to have a high literacy rate in South Asia is backward in regard to the conduct of elections. There is a very unhealthy political culture in this country. It cannot be said that any of the elections held after the creation of a system of government of the Executive Presidency has been fair, free and reasonable.

There has been abuse of state power, state violence and other acts of violence during the elections. Each party has utilized the state power and the state resources to come to power. It cannot be said that the police exercised their powers in an independent manner.

Commissioner of Elections could not ensure his guarantee for a free and fair election. Is this democracy?

(An English translation of the Editorial in Thinakkural, a Tamil daily, based in Colombo.)
- Sri Lanka Guardian