Photo by Tarika Wickremeratne/Perambara
After the election, either Gotabaya Rajapaksa or Sarath Fonseka will have to get a new house, or a new country even. Neither can really go back to America with the vengeful diaspora hounding them, but they’ll find it hard to stay here. Mahinda’s family is deeply involved with the campaign, Namal especially, and there are thousands of hangers-on who depend on him for their jobs, security and prosperity. On the other side, there are a lot of people who’ve been left out and want back in. Those who’ve stuck their heads on either side are at risk of a good lopping when the axe falls.
This election there is a lot to lose, and I think that’s why we’re seeing so much election violence. It is literally a life or death issue to many people, or it feels that way.
A big part of this is the creeping politicization of government jobs. In many ways, the decades long civil war started with Tamils being cut out of government jobs and educational opportunities. Now government jobs have become political perks, which has the unfortunate effect of tying bread and butter to politics. If you’re competent and hooked up you have no guarantee of getting or keeping a civil service. You need to be hooked up, and the right hook ups keep changing.
The most livable countries tend to be those where you can ignore politics, but in Sri Lanka you can’t. It still affects daily life way to much. Sadly, that also makes it a life or death issue. Hence people die. It’s a bad scene. I think the only way out is to weaken the feudal powers of the Presidency, implement the checks and balances in the Constitution and depoliticize as many government jobs and perks as possible. I think Sarath Fonseka’s has pledged to do this whereas Mahinda is just continuing the old feudal model under the guise of development. But that’s just me. It’s not really worth throwing grenades over.