National-list nominations as vote bait

July 20,2015 (LBO) – By far, the greatest number of professionals have been nominated as national-list MPs by the JVP. Some see this as cause for giving this party serious consideration. But there is evidence that the JVP national list nominations are pure window dressing.

I was listening to the Propaganda Secretary of the JVP on a talk show. He was going on about the population of Sri Lanka increasing to 25 million. He was complaining that no other party was making plans to open more schools for the rapidly increasing population.

According to Sri Lanka’s leading demographer, Professor Indralal de Silva, growth will flatten out before we reach 25 million:

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Source: Professor Indralal de Silva

And will there be a need for new schools to accommodate the increasing numbers entering schools?

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Not according to Professor de Silva’s careful projections. Quite contrary to the JVP Propaganda Secretary, science tells us we should plan for decreasing numbers of students entering schools, not the opposite.

More attention must be paid to demographic projections. But not to build schools for which there will be no demand. It is to address the needs of the rapidly increasing numbers of the elderly.

These are well known facts. Professor de Silva has been saying these things for years. The 2011 Census confirmed the trends he has been projecting. One would expect at least one of the 25 professionals nominated by the JVP to know these facts, even if the graduates who make up the majority of the JVP nominees in the districts do not.

So either the JVP does not draw on the professionals they nominated, or their professionals are ignorant. I prefer the former explanation.

The evidence suggests that the nomination of professionals by the JVP is pure theatrics. A disciplined, cadre-based party, they do not easily accommodate outsiders. They may nominate professionals, but it will be a long time before they take their advice or put them up on talk shows to represent the party.

If so, why did they nominate these professionals?

The JVP knows it not likely to win enough votes to entitle them to one or at most two national-list MPs. In 2010, the DNA (then made up of the JVP and General Fonseka’s party) qualified for a total of two national-list seats. Other parties have to worry about who they will actually seat in Parliament. The JVP has the luxury of using its national-list nominations as vote bait for the unthinking.

Let us think.

Rohan Samarajiva heads LirneAsia, a regional think tank. He was also a former telecoms regulator in Sri Lanka. To read previous columns go to LBOs main navigation panel and click on the ‘Choices’ category.