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I have now served two and a half years in Parliament. This would have been half the term in the old days before the United Front government of 1970 extended its own term by two years, and added one year to all future terms. This began the rot of Parliament expanding its own powers and privileges, which the Jayewardene government of 1977 took even further, extending its term to over 11 long and woeful years.

These terms, it should be noted, are not fixed, and the government in power has the right to have an election when it wants. Naturally it does this when it thinks conditions are most favourable. And in Sri Lanka the situation is made worse by the fact that we have two sets of elections to decide on who is going to govern us, namely a Presidential election as well as a Parliamentary one. Naturally both are fixed in terms of advantages to the incumbent, with the added benefit of having one or other of the executive authorities continuing in power during the election.

This situation is unusual, since elsewhere in the world where there is an Executive Presidential system, terms are fixed. This was the case in Sri Lanka when the system was introduced, but J R Jayewardene changed it for purely selfish motives, to ensure the perpetuation of his power.

He also changed the electoral system he had introduced for similar selfish motives, when he realized that a proportional representation system without a preference vote meant less effort on the part of those low down on the list, with no hope of being elected. The system of preferences he introduced has been the single most destructive feature of Sri Lankan politics over the last quarter of a century. Read the rest of this entry »

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Rajiva Wijesinha

February 2013
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