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Opposition in Politics

Is an opposition party the only alternative the people of a country should be allowed when voting? In countries such as The United States which follow a two party system this is the case however in Sri Lanka any Tom, Dick and Harry are able to contest provide they have the money and are registered early enough.

For many years the two potent parties in Sri Lankan politics are they UNP and SLFP. Whilst in the background we see the JVP who are often looked to help turn the tide in favour of one party over the other. I am not writing this to show that one party is better than the other because personally I believe Sri Lankan politics can do with a complete makeover.

However since it does not appear that the politicians will experience any wholesale changes in the near future we must look to the smaller differences that can be made.

I returned from university in November 2009 and arrived to a country that was engulfed in the buildup to the first Presidential election in post-war Sri Lanka. On the one hand we had the incumbent President running for his second term, and on the other speculation was rife with the idea that the former Army commander turned politician would be opposing him.

This was the first time since 1994 that Ranil Wickremasinghe has failed to contest a presidential election. Albeit R.W. has failed to win elections along with the confidence of the voters I began to question whether or not appointing the post of the oppositions presidential candidate to an unknown political figure was a wise move. Support in Colombo was overwhelmingly behind the ‘General’ and people began to suspect that President Rajapaksa would in fact fail to win this election. Not only was the UNP supporting this man, but the JVP and many of the minor parties had also thrown their support behind him. For once after many years it looked as though Sri Lanka would have an effective opposition.

On the 26th of January amidst scenes of chaos and high security at a leading hotel in Colombo President Mahinda Rajapaksa was declared the winner. Now was the true test for the opposition in the country. Their presidential candidate had been beaten resoundingly and was thrown into jail. At their greatest barrier the opposing United National Front faltered and collapsed. The UNP and JVP split claiming that neither side was willing to compromise for the other. The minority went their separate ways as the focus turned to the general election in April.

With a victory, falling just short of a majority, in the General Election for the SLFP it was time for the opposition parties to take to the street and turn the tide on the government.

With rising cost of living, the unanswered issue of the IDPs and minorities, along with other issues brought up by the opposition it would appear the government has too many problems to handle. Unfortunately the weakness of the has been exposed by their own methods of countering the government. The UNP have been too concerned with infighting and power struggles to take advantage of the opportunities that are placed before them. Ranil has failed to lead his party effectively in an all out effort to provide the people with answers the ruling party have avoided to deliver.

The months leading up to the election saw the two parties scurrying around like ants looking to build their support. It appears that once again the years following these elections will see the opposition party silent on many issues and weakly contesting many others. It is time for the opposition party to finally emerge from behind the veil of secrecy and step out onto the streets. The JVP offer the UNP an avenue to the masses yet they both allow their pride and history to stand in the way of what could be an effective coalition.

The answers to the problems are not hidden away in Sirikotha but rather on the streets with the average person. The JVP have the connection to the people whilst the UNP has the finesse required of a politician. Separate they lack any real threat, however if joined they can truly be viewed as a potent political force.

Categories: Politics
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