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Anyone who knows anything about political theory has heard of the doctrine of the Separation of Powers. This means that those who perform the active function of government, the executors or doers, should be distinct from those who lay down the framework on which action is taken, the legislators. That framework is created not only through laws, but also through the budget, the allocation of resources for the Executive. Because of this latter responsibility, the Legislature also acts as the monitor of Executive action, through oversight mechanisms.

Hardly anyone thinks that this doctrine of Separation is a bad thing. Obviously those who act should not also be the judges of their own actions. However we tend in this country to ignore the fact that the doctrine does not operate at all here. The simple fact is that all members of the Executive, apart from the President, are also members of the Legislature. The proportion of legislators who belong to the Executive, and see this as their primary function and responsibility, has grown and grown over the years. Since 1977 the proportion has been well over half of the majority faction in Parliament, indeed in the 1977 Parliament it was well over half Parliament as a whole.

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Rajiva Wijesinha

March 2011
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