Rid­ing the Wave

Sri Lankan so­ci­ety is mov­ing for­ward, bol­stered by the vic­tory over the LTTE, though many won­der how long will the magic last.

Southasia - - Region - By Dr. S. I. Keethapon­calan

Sri Lanka went for yet an­other phase of elec­tions, this time for 65 lo­cal govern­ment bod­ies on July 23. Elec­tions, national and lo­cal, have be­come a reg­u­lar as­pect of the Sri Lankan pol­i­tics, de­spite the con­ven­tional wis­dom that the coun­try is steadily los­ing its demo­cratic char­ac­ter­is­tic. The next phase of elec­tions for the rest of the lo­cal gov­er­nance bod­ies will be held be­fore the end of this year ac­cord­ing to the govern­ment sources.

The govern­ment won all of the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties in the pre­dom­i­nantly Sin­hala South. This was in a way a sur­prise, be­cause many peo­ple in­clud­ing some of the hard­core sup­port­ers of the regime be­lieved that the pop­u­lar­ity of the govern­ment was on the wane. Need­less to say that the ap­peal of the govern­ment, es­pe­cially the Pres­i­dent, shot up with the de­feat of the Lib­er­a­tion Tigers of Tamil Ee­lam (LTTE) in May 2009. Tak­ing ad­van­tage of the pub­lic eupho­ria cre­ated by the war vic­tory the govern­ment won the pres­i­den- tial elec­tion and the par­lia­men­tary elec­tion in Jan­uary and April 2010 re­spec­tively. Con­fi­dent of the pop­u­lar sup­port, the govern­ment, in or­der to keep the mo­men­tum go­ing, phased out the lo­cal govern­ment elec­tions rather than hav­ing them on one day. The strat­egy seems to be work­ing.

It is how­ever, clear that the en­dorse­ment the govern­ment en­joyed in the af­ter­math of the war vic­tory is erod­ing. Se­ri­ous crit­i­cisms have been lev­eled in the re­cent past. Cor-

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