Cohabitation & Sri Lanka
As we all know even after so many years of independence Sri Lanka has still not managed to enter decent politics. Stupid scenarios are rather more abundant each and every day and people have enough drama to see and that is the only pleasure that they get for their valuable vote. Since independence we have seen many governments rise and fall and that is the nature of politics. So what will happen if those two parties which have nothing in common has to work together? In this article we will talk about the political cohabitation, its nature and how Sri Lanka once faced it in between the years of 2001 to 2004.
Cohabitation is a political situation which takes place in semi-presidential French model governments where the president and the prime minister comes from two different political parties. This indeed was a very negative situation in semi-presidency and was a huge reason for major political conflicts. Some might say that this kind of a situation would be a golden opportunity to both parties to work together to end political conflicts and to achieve common goals for the betterment of the country. But this approach seemed to fail almost in every cohabitation governments in history. After all what could one expect in COMMON in-between two parties which have nothing in COMMON?
United National Party and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party had been the two main political parties in Sri Lanka over decades. Along the history U.N.P supported the liberalism while the S.L.F.P followed social democracy. The rapid shifts of governments also resulted in rapid shifts of social situations. This had happened for years and years and finally these two parties had to come together. That was in the year of 2001 when Mr. Ranil Wikramasinghe claimed victory in the parliamentary election held in that year. Mr. Wikramasinghe had to swear as the prime minister in front of then president Mrs. Chandrika Kumaratunga who represented the S.L.F.P and who had already sworn for six years long term as the president in 1999. So on Wednesday, December 5th 2001 Sri Lanka officially entered cohabitation.
L.T.T.E attack at the Bandaranaike Airport on 24th of July 2001 resulted an interior economic crisis, decreasing the economic rate to -1.4%. The terror also resulted in avoiding foreigners to visit Sri Lanka suspending one of the greatest country’s incomes. The president Kumaratunga in the intention of decreasing the government expenditures, minimized the number of cabinet ministers and most of the people’s alliance ministers lost their ministries. In this kind of a situation 13 MPs from Kumaratunga’s alliance joined the opposition and she has no other choice than calling upon another election. However she could not win that election and she had to force herself to a cohabitation government.
It was true that in the beginning everyone thought that the cohabitation would go fine and some even thought that this was indeed a golden opportunity to put an end to the political crisis which had been taking place for a very long time. But in fact this cohabitation was a very bitter time period of Sri Lanka. Endless arguments and between the president and the cabinet came on stage. Mr. Wikramasinghe strongly acted in criticizing the president and going against her decisions in cabinet meetings. It was actually something normal when president stating something very fowl against the P.M and the government. This finally ended when Mrs. Kumaratunga called upon another election from the first chance she got as per constitution in 2004. She stated the emergency and took over three main interior portfolios under herself. And soon the election was held.
Chandrika Kumaratunga managed to win the 2004 parliamentary elections putting an end to the cohabitation which resulted in a huge political crisis in-between two parties who represented different interests. This situation clearly pointed out the bad consequences of cohabitation and the executive presidency altogether. Even after such a horrible conflict the people of Sri Lanka were foolish enough to vote for another cohabitation in 2015.
So from these incidents we can clearly see that cohabitation is not much of a practical situation to be applied to bring an end to a conflict. And it is so obvious that this is not practically applicable in Sri Lanka at all. So what do you think about pros and cons of cohabitation? See you soon with another article.