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I believe it is essential to reform Parliament, to establish fixed terms to avoid elections being manipulated for the advantage of the ruling party, and to have a Second Chamber based on equal representation for all provinces, so as to promote the consultation of regional interests in legislation. Many of our problems have sprung from hasty legislation, while international experience teaches us that a second chamber, with powers to go through legislation calmly, can often save government from the excesses of emotional responses to particular situations, whether economic or political or social.

However, whatever changes are made, the first house of Parliament, which is supposed to be elected on the basis of providing representation to the people, will be supreme. We must therefore put in place changes to allow the representatives thus elected to fulfil their principal roles effectively. For this purpose we should change the constitution so as to

  1. ensure responsibility of members for a limited area and accountability to a constituency

and

  1. To ensure that Parliament as a whole is proportionate to the wishes of the electorate

I would suggest therefore that the House of Representatives consist of two hundred Members elected on a mixed system. One hundred of them will be elected on the basis of constituencies in which the electors shall be similar in number. Such constituencies shall be prescribed by a Delimitation Commission which shall combine the Grama Niladhari Divisions into Constituencies which have commensurate numbers or as near commensurate as possible.

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Rajiva Wijesinha

February 2013
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