information on presidential elections
The Executive President by D.C. Ranatunga. Reviewed by Dhananjani
The Executive President, a little booklet by D. C. Ranatunga, provides
those interested in Sri Lankan politics with an insight into the
four Presidential elections from1982-1999. With a concise summary
of voting patterns and pen sketches of the Presidents in readable
and informative style, the book will certainly be of interest as
we approach another crucial poll.
While going in chronological order, the booklet is not short of
historical background, outlining the role of the Governor who was
allocated the role of the Executive President during the days of
the British rule.
“Led by the invitation of the chiefs and welcomed by the acclamation
of people, the forces of His Britannic Majesty have entered the
Kandyan territory and penetrated to the Capital. Divine Providence
has blessed their efforts with uniform and complete success. The
ruler of the interior provinces has fallen into their hands, and
the government remains at the disposal of His Majesty’s representative,”
begins its first chapter ‘The era of the Governors’.
lines are taken from the prelude to the Kandyan Convention signed
on March 2, 1815, explaining how, the author writes, the British
attack on the Kandyan Kingdom was justified. The rest of the chapter
summarises how the British administration developed till the Soulbury
Constitution, that introduced a Parliamentary system that restricted
the Governor’s status and his powers.
“The Soulbury Constitution provided for full internal self
government except for a few subjects like defence, trade and safeguards
for the minority communities where the Governor could exercise his
discretion after consultation with the Ministers concerned. On all
other matters he could act only on the advice of the Ministers,”
the book reads.
1798 and 1948, 29 Governors had administered the island. With Ceylon
gaining independence on February 4, 1948 the post of Governor gave
way to Governor-General. However, when the new Constitution was
adopted on May 22, 1972, the non-executive President took the place
of the Governor-General. The 1978 Constitution established the Presidential
system in the country where the “President of the country
became the Head of the State, the Head of the Executive and of the
Government and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces”.
R. Jayewardene was sworn in as President in February 4, 1978 and
after completion of four years in office, he decided to call for
a Presidential election on September 17, 1982.
between, chapters such as ‘The first Presidential elections’,
‘New President in 1988’, ‘Caretaker President’,
‘First woman President’ and ‘Mandate sought for
second term’ deal with the first, second, third and the fourth
Presidential elections where J. R. Jayawardene in 1982, R. Premadasa
in 1988, Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga in both 1994 and 1999
were declared elected.
The controversy whether the next Presidential elections should be
held in 2005 or 2006 which arose following an announcement that
President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga had been sworn in for
a second time has now come to an end with a decision that elections
should be held before November 22, 2005.
to study the voting patterns in the upcoming Presidential Elections,
‘A new President’ is the ideal chapter to refer to.
The names of the candidates in the order in which they will appear
on the ballot papers, the symbol allotted to each candidate and
the name of the political party are all given in this chapter.
on the facts and figures provided by the Elections Department, the
final chapter sums up the recent elections, how the major parties
fared in each electoral district and the winners of the elections
at a glance.
veteran journalist, D. C. Ranatunga’s earlier publication
The Twelve Parliaments of Sri Lanka, which summarises the Parliamentary
system in Sri Lanka has ‘gained recognition at the country’s
supreme legislature’ with Dinesh Gunewardene having quoted
from it during parliamentary sittings a few years back.
handy guide for all those who are keen to study the Presidential
system in Sri Lanka, The Executive President is a timely and informative