Rationale behind demand for
The UPFA is
asking the voters to give it a two-thirds majority in
Parliament. Naturally, this has irritated the Opposition. They
are making various insinuations about the demand.
It is, therefore, necessary to see whether there is any
rationale behind the demand. Whether that rationale is
appropriate or not will, in any case, be decided upon by the
The UPFA says it wants the two-thirds to effect
Constitutional reforms. According to the present Constitution a
two-thirds majority in Parliament and a Referendum are necessary
for Constitutional change. The electoral system that was
introduced by J.R. Jayewardene, however, makes it extremely
difficult for a single party or coalition to get the two-thirds
majority. Hence, it makes it almost compulsory for any
government in power to seek the support of the Opposition to
gather the required two-thirds majority.
So far all attempts to get that elusive two-thirds through
bipartisanship have failed. We would recall here how the UNP
which had promised support for the draft Constitution 2000
opposed it at the last minute in Parliament even with some
theatrics burning its copies in the House.
The other way to get the two-thirds was to win over members
of the Opposition to the ruling party. Though this was tried the
result fell short of the required number. It is in this context
that the UPFA has directly appealed to the voters to give it the
required minimum number of votes.
The Opposition had one principal slogan during the
Presidential poll. It was the abolition or the Executive
Presidency or reducing its over-reaching powers. Now the UPFA is
asking the people for the two-thirds precisely to implement that
demand. Actually such a demand could be effected only by the
Parliament. Hence, the call to vote Fonseka into office to
abolish the Executive Presidency was without any substance.
The two-thirds majority is also called for to effect
electoral reforms. It is necessary to do away with the present
preferential voting system and re-introduce the
first-past-the-post system with a combination of district
representations through a proportional voting system.
Then each voter would not only have an MP close by in their
own electorate but also make elections less expensive so that
the poor and the humble too could put forward their own
candidates. The present system favours moneybags.
Throughout several decades no solution could be given to
solve the National Question because the present Constitution
could not be amended due to the lack of a two-thirds vote in
The President has openly declared that he would call for an
All Party Summit to work out a home-grown solution to solve the
National Question. In fact a lot of groundwork has already been
done in this regard. The need for effecting such a solution is
also a reason for the demand of the UPFA for a two-thirds
The rationale is thus clear. It is up to the voters to
endorse it or not. Given the huge mandate received by the
President at the recent poll and the further division in the
Opposition camp the present moment, however, offers the best
opportunity to reach that elusive goal.
Old parable in new guise
A word went round
the creatures in the forest that a new and beautiful animal has
come to the forest. It was the cat who told the story first. He
said a nice fellow with long whiskers and a beautiful fur coat
and agile legs was seen living in a pool of water near the
Since the cat was supposed to be an intelligent and truth
speaking everybody believed it. The rabbit who used to be the
catís best friend who heard the story first went to see for
himself whether the story is true. He returned saying that the
cat was lying and it was only a rabbit there. On hearing the
rabbit a deer went to verify who was telling the truth the cat
or the rabbit.
He said both are liars and the nice looking creature was a
handsome deer. In this way the story went round the jungle and
almost all animals including the jackal, the wolf, the elephant
and the lion went to the pool but returned saying that what they
saw was only another of their own kind.
In the year 2010 politicians across the entire political
spectrum are extolling the virtues of good governance and
promising to institute it. Asked what they meant by good
governance each could only say something similar to the
creatures in the parable who described the new creature as they
perceived it individually.
So the moral to be drawn is that good governance is what each
sees in his own image.