Has suffrage got us looking into a permanent precipice?

In China, this method is named “selection plus election” which is rooted in Confucian political custom. Right here, competent leaders are chosen based mostly on benefit, rigorous examinations, well-liked help, the vigorous means of screening, opinion surveys, inner evaluations, and numerous small-scale elections


The suitable to vote and the best to be elected are two of probably the most elementary rights that we cherish. We’d by no means think about that they is also an impediment to our nation’s growth. Most, regardless of their restricted civic data, would by no means take into account exchanging this franchise for some other political system with lesser rights. 

Any argument opposite to the preservation of those democratic rights could be anathema to a majority of the folks even when there are political methods which have achieved higher societal and developmental outcomes with out these rights. Regardless of the frustrations that individuals really feel in regards to the present political surroundings and the dismal political and financial realities which might be anticipated to unfold sooner or later, folks would nonetheless need the established order to proceed.

Article 3 of the 1978 Structure states that sovereignty contains franchise and it’s within the folks and is inalienable. So, the Structure grants us the best to vote and take part in public administration and elect our representatives to Parliament. What’s the significance of those rights? How have they served us? 

Essentially, the best to vote provides us a way of equality no matter our wealth, revenue, gender, social standing, race, faith, ethnicity, and political affiliations. Regarding politics, the best to vote permits us the liberty to decide on a political occasion and candidate that validates our social and political identities; somebody we predict would convey prosperity to ourselves and your complete nation. 

Furthermore, we really feel rewarded understanding the half our vote performs in influencing useful outcomes if the end result is such. So, on the entire, the best to vote or “active suffrage” is useful. 

The suitable to be elected or maintain public workplace which we name “passive suffrage” is extra nuanced and maybe much less elementary than the best to vote. This proper ought to include quite a lot of accountability, accountability, and integrity. Moreover, the one who has earned this proper should possess the data and competence to carry public workplace.   

An elected official’s decision-making has a far-reaching and extremely vital impression on the final inhabitants and the nation’s wellbeing. In a democratic system, we entrust this proper to the elected individuals hoping that they might do their utmost to symbolize and serve us and maximise the nation’s wellbeing. More and more it’s evident that competent people with the above-mentioned traits are within the minority in all governing events in any respect ranges of the Sri Lankan Authorities.  

Energetic suffrage and passive suffrage

The true drawback right here is that of ‘passive suffrage’ that offers anyone the best to take part within the administration of the nation, no matter competence. As such, an individual not having handed the ordinary-level or the advanced-level examination nor having the required background and competence to command a Authorities portfolio can nonetheless develop into an elected official within the Parliament. 

Naturally, with such people, the coverage decision-making turns into inferior even when guided by coverage advisors, who themselves are of their positions by means of affiliation with political energy. 

Why are political events surrounded by such people and never by these possessing the required competence within the first place? One easy reply could possibly be that these people possess the abilities of bringing votes or offering needed monetary means solely for bringing the occasion to energy. 

What has occurred over time is that every one the numerous events have accommodated such people, leaving the voter no alternative however to vote for these incompetent politicians. This isn’t a democratic splendid as a result of the voter doesn’t choose these particular person(s) based mostly on any deserving standards within the first place.  

Though we now have the best to vary a candidate or a celebration on the elections, this franchise turns into purposeless if we repeatedly change incompetence with incompetence. Moreover, if elections are held each 4-5 years, substantial injury will be performed by these people within the interim. Passive suffrage is problematic. It wants cautious examination and revision if the nation is to be placed on a path towards long-term growth. 

It’s extremely inconceivable that legal guidelines requiring all parliamentarians to reveal competence will be carried out. Now that these people are the legislators within the Parliament, it’s unlikely that they might wish to change the legal guidelines that pose an existential menace to them. So, what can Sri Lanka do to emulate nations akin to China, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan the place profitable growth has been extremely correlated with competent governance?  

For a begin, we have to educate the typical voter in regards to the shortcomings of passive suffrage and the way the current politicians have taken benefit of the voter’s lively suffrage. The voter have to be made to grasp why it’s higher to vote for an individual with abilities, competence, and aforementioned qualities quite than accept doubtful false guarantees they’ve been repeatedly given. 

Moreover, the voter wants to grasp that their vote is price a dedication by a politician who’s keen to uphold accountability, integrity, and accountability.  

The authorized fraternity ought to look into “passive suffrage” and counsel methods for incorporating competence as a authorized necessity for holding political workplace. The suitable to carry workplace alone shouldn’t be enough, however different needed components akin to the extent of schooling, abilities, previous efficiency in any political/different workplaces, demonstration of integrity, police historical past, and so forth. ought to be considered.  

The citizen’s proper to be ruled by probably the most competent additionally must be addressed. It’s time that these archaic suffrage concepts want reexamination. Some might oppose or be cautious about such adjustments as they could result in elitist preparations, however expertise in nations akin to Singapore and China present that it’s a worthwhile endeavour. If constitutional adjustments are needed, these are the quintessential adjustments that may convey the best worth to the nation. 

One other different could be to encourage forming new political events based mostly on political meritocracy. Each Singapore and China have efficiently integrated meritocratic ideas into their political methods. Right this moment, their huge success has been primarily attributed to this method of meritocracy the place political leaders with above-average potential and advantage are chosen by a mechanism designed to decide on such leaders to handle their respective nations.  

In China, this method is named “selection plus election” which is rooted in Confucian political custom. Right here, competent leaders are chosen based mostly on benefit, rigorous examinations, well-liked help, the vigorous means of screening, opinion surveys, inner evaluations, and numerous small-scale elections.  

Latest surveys have proven that there’s widespread help for this concept of political meritocracy in East Asian societies. It’s true that meritocracy and liberal democracy are inconsistent. Nevertheless, forming political events based mostly on meritocracy distinguishes these events from the present ineffective and corrupt political events. 

Regardless of the path Sri Lanka takes, it ought to eradicate the incompetence in political workplace. The political and financial woes of the final seven a long time have proven that leaving the nation’s governance to passive suffrage is a detrimental concept that requires a rethink.

(The author is at the moment a sessional lecturer in Economics at each Charles Sturt College and La Trobe College in Australia. He has additionally tutored for the Division of Monetary & Administration Research (DeFiMS) within the College of Oriental & African Research (SOAS) on the College of London. The creator will be contacted at:


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