It is reported that the National Organizer of the SLPP, Minister of Finance Basil Rajapaksa has instructed the party to prepare for the general elections in 2023.
Sources said that a meeting of the local government representatives of the SLPP was held at Temple Trees recently under the chairmanship of Basil Rajapaksa.
The term of office of the Local Government Representatives elected in the 2018 Local Government Elections was scheduled to expire on January 10, 2022 and in terms of the powers of the Local Government Act, the Government has extended it till March 19, 2023 by an Extraordinary Gazette Notification. Accordingly, the local government elections have to be called before March 19, 2023.
However, sources say that Basil Rajapaksa has instructed his party’s representatives in the Pradeshiya Sabhas and Municipal Councils to prepare for a general election before the local government elections.
At first glance, holding a general election in 2023 may seem like a more advanced political ploy on the part of the government.
Local government elections are the ‘village elections’. Also, the local government elections are held according to the divisional system. The then ruling United National Party (UNP) also suffered a major defeat in the 2018 local government elections.
Accordingly, considering the current situation in the country, if the local government elections are held early in 2023, the SLPP will also have to suffer a significant setback. If such a setback occurs, it will inevitably create a huge setback in the presidential election which will be held a year later.
However, if the general election is held before the local government election, it will be a national-level election and the SLFP will have an advantage. Especially in a situation where the opposition is deeply divided, their ability to challenge the government is still limited. Although the people are in a state of frustration due to the current economic crisis in the country, an environment has not yet been created in the country that could lead to a change of government.
Therefore, holding the general election earlier than 2024 is more of a tactical move on the part of the government than a test of the country’s electoral conduct in a one-off presidential election. It also has a high probability of success depending on the behavior of the voters in our country.