Save Democracy from a two-thirds disaster

The theme of the Rajapaksas is the Sinhala-Buddhist dominance

The theme of the Rajapaksas is the Sinhala-Buddhist dominance, which saw the huge majority that Gotabaya Rajapaksa obtained to be President. The Sinhala-Buddhists are certainly more than two-thirds in the overall population and the electoral registers too. But, is this workable  in an election based on Proportional Representation or PR?

As the campaigns draw to a close there is the need to think more of Democracy, than any of the big players in this campaign are willing to allow. The electoral process is the fabric of democracy. We have seen a shift from ‘first-past-the-post (FPTP)’ to the PR system. And, we have also seen the major threats to Democracy from the two-thirds result.

The two last elections under FPTP in 1970 and 1977 saw the dangers of two-thirds power. Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike who led the United Left of the SLFP-LSSP-CP to power in 1970, used the two-thirds to extend the term of that parliament from five to seven years – with the next election coming in 1977 and not 1975. That was the two-thirds at play. The also saw the abolition of the Civil Service that did a lot for clean administration, and replaced it with the Administrative Service – which has led to the dominance of political (and even family related) appointees, with the current shift to those in current and retired uniforms to drive the government.

The 1977 election –  held two years later – saw the huge victory of JRJ-led  UNP, getting a five-sixth majority. JRJ would have benefitted much from the earlier polls delay. That huge majority brought the new Executive Presidency, which showed the dangers of such electoral majorities. JRJ used that majority to postpone the next general election by six years! The new constitution axed the powers of parliament, giving huge dominance to the President. It saw the enabling of cross-overs in parliament, and did away with the process  of by-elections.

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