New-Democratic Party on the Presidential Election in Sri Lanka

New-Democratic Party (Sri Lanka)

The Central Committee of the New-Democratic Party unanimously resolved that the people should not vote for any candidate contesting the forthcoming Presidential Election but spoil their ballot papers, and thereby carry forward a mass movement of protest to reject and eliminate the dictatorial presidential system with executive powers; and by doing so the entire people, especially the Tamil, Muslim and Hill Country Tamil people, should express their disgust and opposition to the system of personal dictatorial presidential rule that has been in place for thirty-one years.

The Central Committee of the New-Democratic Party unanimously adopted the above resolution, after debating the stand of the Party on the Presidential Election. In a detailed statement on the above resolution, S.K. Senthivel, General Secretary of the Party, further added:

During the past 31 years the country and the people have at various levels have with pain and sorrow experienced economic crises, political repression, injustice and devastation. The presidential system with executive powers has been principal among factors that caused the three decades long chauvinist capitalist war and the struggles carried out among the Tamil people. The one who initiated the war was J.R. Jayawardane, the first executive president. Thirty years on, the one who celebrated victory after ending the war in a flood of Tamil blood is President Mahinda Rajapakse. At the same time, the one who carried forward the cruel war in the battlefield is Army General Sarath Fonseka.

President Rajapakse and General Fonseka jointly carried forward the final war. Although the two are today opposing each other in the Presidential Election, both are incapable of fulfilling the basic aspirations of the working people of the country and of the Tamil, Muslim and Hill Country Tamil people. Both uphold chauvinistic positions that are unwilling to find a sincere solution to the national question. For the people to choose one as the better candidate and vote for him will not only be a politically unwise act but also one amounting to their blighting themselves.

The New-Democratic Party poses the question to the Tamil, Muslim and Hill Country Tamil people as to how they could vote for either of these two main candidates contesting on behalf of two chauvinistic parties. To vote for the other parties will not only be meaningless but also deflect the opposition of the people to the executive presidential system and indirectly support the main candidates.

The statement further added that, if a joint candidate had been put up collectively by the Tamil, Muslim and Hill Country Tamil parties and the parties of the left against the candidates of the two chauvinistic capitalist parties and a situation created in which neither candidate secured 50% of the votes, it would have led to a constitutional crisis relating to the presidential system and forced a need to amend the constitution. Besides, it would have led to the building up of political awakening among the people and mass political power.

The minority nationality parties that are seeking to elect one of the main candidates with no consideration for the above prospect are committing an act of betrayal for the sake of securing their posts and positions and their pursuit of selfish parliamentary politics. This is a continuation of the past politics of ruling class dominance. In the 30-year war, around two hundred and fifty thousand Tamil people have been killed. Property worth tens of billions has been destroyed. Hundreds of thousands have been displaced, and in the end three hundred thousand people have ended up as refugees behind barbed wire fences. The sorrow of the destruction and despair of the final stages of the war have not gone away.

Under these conditions, how can people vote for the executive presidential system that is responsible for the cruel war and the problems of daily livelihood and the two candidates who caused the destruction? Likewise, the system of government that took the lives of nearly a hundred and fifty thousand Sinhalese people plunged in a pool of blood was exactly the same dictatorial presidential system. Hence, it is fantasy to expect that anyone coming to power will for the sake of election pledges willingly abandon this presidential system and its brutal powers to being democracy for the people.

Thus, there is an opportunity before the people to express their disgust and opposition to the presidential system and the main candidates; and the proper way to do it is to reject the electoral process by spoiling the ballot papers. The call of the New Democratic Party to the people is that they could through such rejection carry forward alternative politics by demonstrating their political strength and taking the path of mass struggle.

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3 comments

  1. Sivasegaram · · Reply

    There is reason to suspect that the Tamil candidate and a ‘Left’ candidate are Rajapakse proxies designed to deflect Tamil votes away from Sarath Fonseka and that another ‘Left’ candidate is there to serve Fonseka.
    If these left candidates, as they claim, are serious about rejecting the two main candidates, they could get together with a few Tamil and Muslim candidates already in the field, and agree on a common candidate among themselves or appeal to the voters to vote for any one of them only and have no second preference. What is important is a common list of demands or a common programme addressing the main issues facing the country.
    That will exert pressure on the Tamil, Muslim and Hill Country Tamil party leaders to wiothdraw their opportunist support for the two chauvinist reactionaries.
    The ‘left’ candidates will act responsibly if they are not ‘binami’ candidates of the two main contestants.

  2. Sabes Sugunasabesan · · Reply

    I agree with NDP’s challenge as to how people could vote to any of the two main candidates responsible for the cruel war and the problems of daily livelihood and who caused the destruction. I also agree with the sentiment that the executive presidencsy syatem and either of the main candidates are capable of resolving the ethnic and national qiuestions in any fundamental way.

    However, I doubt how spoiling of ballot papers would pave the way for alternative politics. Such protest done in a mass scale large enough to force the vote to a second round may be useful to force Tamils, Muslims and Plantation leaderships to negotiate some interim solutions with the main candidates.

    I recognise the difficulty in that they are not prepared yet as a united force to lead such a challenge. Some like TNA are still undecided and others have taken positions supporting either of the main candidates without making the negotiating positions, if any, public.

    The partneship between Karunaratne and Sivajilingam seem promising as a tool to take issues to Tamil and Sinhalese electorates. Why NDP does not see this as a useful opportunity to politicise the people of the real issues facing them. This can also force the ballet to a second round. Why can’t NDP support these two candidates?

    The electoral system although cannot be relied upon to deliver solutaions to fundamental issues facing people of Sri Lanka, nevertheless, a useful tool to engage and politicise people even to alternative politics. I recognise that urging people to spoil their ballets is better than urging them to boycott the elections. However, I fear, this call may also can have a effect of non engagement with political processes that have an impact on their lives.

    If NDP suspects the motives of the left candidates it should have put up its own candidate and then urged people to spoil their ballet papers. This would have given NDP an active platform to influnce the debate!

  3. Sivasegaram · · Reply

    There is ample evidence that the TELO MPs Sivajilingam and Sri Kantha, who since the former’s announcement of his candidature have quit the TELO and the TNA, are in the pocket of Rajapakse. Equally there is reason to believe that Karunaratne is there to serve the same man while another red is there for the retired General. The third red is a true Trotskyite, and does not believe in united fronts.
    The strange and new-found camaradery of Sivajilingam and Karunaratne raised more than a political eyebrow.

    Mass spoiling the ballot paper is a political statement much stronger than a boycott. But I suspect that many Tamils will simply boycott.

    The NDP as far as I know was until the day of nomination calling for a common candidate. I understand that the call still stands.
    In the event of failure to agree on a common candidate or a common platform of left, Tamil and Muslim candidates challening the Tamil and Muslims parties to withdraw their support for the main candidates, the call for spoiling the ballot paper will become a rejection of the two main candidates as well as the irresponsible if not deceitful conduct of the left, Tamil and Muslim candidates.

    Fielding a candidate is a serious decision that is not taken in gungho fashion, or like that of the three Trotskyite candidates racing to announce their candidature before someone could knock some sense into their heads. Thus NDP’s fielding its own candidate would have placed it on par with the ‘three blind mice’ that are in the run.

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