Despite President Ranil Wickremesinghe and his aides categorically and repeatedly stating that the presidential elections will be held first, the option of a parliamentary election is being pursued with vigour by the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP). The issue is being kept alive by sections of the media with the question being posed to different [...]


Presidential or parliamentary elections – the why and the wherefore


Despite President Ranil Wickremesinghe and his aides categorically and repeatedly stating that the presidential elections will be held first, the option of a parliamentary election is being pursued with vigour by the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP). The issue is being kept alive by sections of the media with the question being posed to different politicians who are encouraged to express an opinion in the form of a voice cut whenever the opportunity arises.

The suggestion that a parliamentary election should be held first was mooted by Basil Rajapaksa on behalf of the SLPP upon his return from the United States of America. The argument that was put forward by him in support of his suggestion was that if a presidential election is held first, the victor at that election will see their party sweep the polls at the parliamentary election that follows.   

In media interviews, Basil Rajapaksa argues that such a phenomenon will not be in the country’s interest. He cites the experience of the Gotabaya Rajapaksa government in support of his contention.

“The mere fact that we received an overwhelming majority at the election turned out to be a curse at the end. That is also a reason for our downfall. Absolute power corrupts,” he said.

According to him such an overwhelming majority only turned out to be a problem for the SLPP government, and resulted in various other problems. “Too much concentration of power is not helpful,” he opined.

However, while arguing that a parliamentary election following a presidential election would result in excessive concentration of power that is detrimental to the country, he has refrained from objecting to the even more excessive centralisation of power in the executive presidency and the need for abolishing the office.

This suggests that the real reason for advocating the conduct of the parliamentary elections first is the political rather than national interest.

The disastrous performance of the government headed by Gotabaya Rajapaksa saw the popularity of the SLPP hit rock bottom with the prospect of it being wiped out at the next elections. This is what has prompted many of the SLPPers currently holding ministerial portfolios to speak in favour of President Ranil Wickremesinghe being the Government’s candidate for the presidential elections.

These ministers are hoping to piggy-back on President Wickremesinghe’s fortunes at a presidential election in the belief that he has revived the economy. The fact that President Wickremesinghe is implementing the policies of the United National Party (UNP) and not of the SLPP, as confirmed by UNP Chairman Vajira Abeywardena, is of little consequence to them if they can save their parliamentary seats.

An example of such contradictions in policy is evident when one compares the Vistas of Prosperity policy document of Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the actions of the Wickremesinghe government.

The Vistas of Prosperity document promised law reforms to stop the privatisation of state-owned enterprises, as well as the introduction of laws to safeguard and protect government and state-owned entities. The current Government, however, has embarked on an ambitious programme of privatisation and sale of state-owned enterprises with SLPP ministers in the Cabinet enthusiastically supporting such moves.

These ministers are not unduly perturbed by the fact that they were elected by the people based on the promise that state-owned enterprises would be protected, and have no hesitation in betraying such policies if it suits their self interest. Clearly they lack the courage of their convictions, if any.

Besides these ministers seem to be blinded by the fact that the people at large are still undergoing great difficulties due to the misdeeds of the Gotabaya Rajapaksa government for which they too are accountable. The increase in poverty and widespread malnutrition are but two consequences of the SLPP government for which they are answerable.

With regard to the Wickremesinghe government’s policies, they will find it hard put to prove that they are not responsible for the heavy taxation including the value added tax and the high cost of living to name a few.

One of the first directives that a head of government lays down when a country is faced with a shortage of foreign exchange is to place restrictions on foreign travel by ministers and officials except when absolutely necessary. This is done in order to save scarce foreign exchange as well as to set an example to the public who are called upon to tighten their belts. When Mrs Sirimavo Bandaranaike was prime minster, she laid down such austerity measures even though the economic situation was nowhere as dire as it is now.

However, under the current dispensation, no such restrictions have been put in place with ministers travelling abroad as and when they please. The only exception seems to be prime minister  Dinesh Gunawardena who is currently in China making his first foreign visit since he became prime minister.

Other SLPP parliamentarians who have been taken as part of government delegations to foreign countries too are among those singing the president’s praises.

The SLPP’s call for parliamentary elections first is probably based on the hope that under the proportional representation system they would be able to pick up a few seats by garnering the votes scattered across the electoral districts rather than any real concern for the public good or the interests of the country.

Coming back to the issue of holding the parliamentary elections first, it can be justified only on the basis that it is held simultaneously as a referendum to abolish the executive presidency. If a constitutional amendment for this purpose is passed with the support of the Opposition, the parliamentary elections can still be held simultaneously along with a referendum.

This will do away with the need to incur expenditure on a subsequent presidential election. But what is more important in the national interest is that it will result in the obnoxious office of the executive presidency being abolished and pave the way for better and more democratic governance. (

Share This Post


Buying or selling electronics has never been easier with the help of! We, at, hear your needs and endeavour to provide you with the perfect listings of electronics; because we have listings for nearly anything! Search for your favourite electronic items for sale on today!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked.
Comments should be within 80 words. *


Post Comment

Advertising Rates

Please contact the advertising office on 011 - 2479521 for the advertising rates.