Parliaments and lesser extent local councils are meant for reforms of the social system. They basically operate within the confines of the bourgeois state.
No one should expect any revolutionary changes via such elected bodies. Any attempt to bring in radical reforms through parliament will lead to civil unrest and conspiracy. Then it may develop into a civil war which will negate the radical reforms envisage, unless revolutionary forces win in the civil war.
In 1970 UF victory raised hope of the down trodden for radical reforms. Some came out into streets to take the electoral victory forward by mass actions. They wanted to appoint soviet type workers councils in all work places. Youth started to build a resistance movement to face suspected right wing back lash. Latter was led by the JVP.
The Government of the coalition was more interested in hunting the JVP than in the radical reforms promised. Repression and the counter rebellion led to a defeat of radicalism within the government. Some of the left leaders of the government were suspected of helping the rebels. Though the government carried out many radical reforms even after the suppression of the rebellion, the stabilization of the bourgeois state was quite evident.
Emergency powers that were brought in to curb the rebellion, continued till the end of the regime. This is only a local example of the problem of the parliament within a context of revolutionary aspirations of the people. In the history of radical politics, masters such as Marx and Lenin, always ridiculed socialists who wanted to make use of parliamentary elections for radical social changes. But nevertheless they were interested in elections as a means of taking politics to the people.
The political enlightenment of the masses
In 1911 under the repressive regime of Russian monarchy when elections were announced for limited Duma councils Lenin declared;
“I should like to deal in this article with a special question, which, however, has acquired very great general importance for the worker democrats. I mean the role of the St. Petersburg elections. The elections in St. Petersburg’s second urban curia are the focal point of the entire Fourth Duma election campaign.
Only in St. Petersburg is there a tolerably well organized working-class press, one which, for all the fierce persecution it is subjected to, for all the fines and the arrests of its editors, for all the instability of its position, and for all that it is kept down by the censorship, is able to reflect, to some little degree, the views of worker democrats.
In the absence of a daily press, the elections remain an obscure matter, and their significance in terms of the political enlightenment of the masses is reduced by half, if not more. For this reason, the St. Petersburg elections acquire the significance of a model of the election campaign which worker democrats have to undertake in the incredibly difficult conditions of Russian reality. Nowhere else are the workers in a position to hold an election campaign visible to every one.
To be sure, the elections in the worker curia are highly important, but there the workers, cannot come up against the other classes of the population, and therefore cannot present on an adequate scale the national demands, and the views on the tasks involved in a common policy, which have been worked out by the progressive, proletarian democrats, so that they may serve all democrats in general as a guide.”
“In St. Petersburg the elections are direct. Hence the pre-election struggle here may take much more definite, more distinct and more partisan forms than elsewhere. The other big cities would have been as important as St. Petersburg, but administrative pressure in the provinces is still so much stronger than in the capital that it is difficult for worker democrats to force their way through, to get a hearing.”
Quite surprisingly what Lenin said in relation to elections in the main city of Russia is today very relevant to the elections of Colombo, Dehivala or Mt Lavinia.
Though we do not have a formal monarchy we have the worse; a constitutional dictatorship backed by draconian laws such as the PTA. On the other hand definitely we have more space to come out and present our policies in Colombo area, than any where else in the country.
However in spite of many limitations the Tamils in the Tamil homeland area did a great job. They gave an unbearable blow to the false monarchy of Mahinda. I believe we can do a better job in and around of Colombo!