Manifesto of Presidential candidates in a Bankrupt Country demands Political and Electoral system changes – By Bernard Fernando

Manifesto of Presidential candidates in a Bankrupt Country demands Political and Electoral system changes – By Bernard Fernando


It is patently clear that over the last 75 years, the valuable votes of the voter majority who became gullible and helpless due to abject poverty, were virtually plundered by power hungry political party leaders holding out hackneyed Election manifestoes replete with false and fairy tale promises while their corrupt, mediocre political stooges, as candidates offered bribes in the form of ‘goodies’ and what -nots with ill-gotten money. Some others who were politically docile (Inter alia due to complexity and inherent defects of the Electoral system) either abstained from voting or got their votes rejected. (Valid Votes at 2020 Election were 71.32% of registered voters).This continuing debased political culture and Electoral system has allowed corrupt and mediocre Politicians to rule the roost in the Parliament for  the last 75 years blocking the doors to capable ‘Country- first Political Professionals’ and preventing due representation of such women and youth at grass root level.

The sad failure of our Political and Electoral system to timely and objectively address the concerns of the sovereign voter stake holders especially the Youth and the New generation, and objective reform proposals/ ‘System changes’ by other stake holders including the writer over the years, finally dumped the country to the deep abyss of an infamous ‘Bankruptcy’ for the first time after 74 years of Independence. The historic ‘New generation Peaceful Youth Aragalaya’ at the ‘Galle Face’ in 2022 that was triggered by the devastating Economic and Dollar crisis correctly traced its main root causes, and upstaged the dire need for reforms under the popular phrase ‘System change’ through slogans ‘Gota go home’ (Abolish Executive Presidency) and ‘Ditch the 225’ (Change Electoral system to Ensure entry of Country first political professionals). Now, a casual  mention of the 2 words, ‘Bankruptcy’ and ‘Aragalaya’ is suffice to substantiate the mayhem and misery precipitated by the mediocre politicians produced over the years by our flawed Political and Electoral systems!

It is logical to start the said ‘system changes’ with the Political Administration Structure (PAS )as the Electoral system has to follow suit to ensure election of most suitable persons to occupy the seats in the PAS through genuine, free and fair elections in a ‘Robust Representative Democracy’. With the Presidential Election constitutionally becoming due in a few months, it is imperative to legalise specific system changes triggered by ‘Bankruptcy’, ‘Aragalaya’ and the long standing demands of the civil society to rationalize our Decentralised PAS and the Electoral systems.

The writer’s detailed methodology to realise them and the benefits thereto have been regularly updated and published in the press from time to time. The relevant updated ‘System changes’ and benefits are summarized below.

1) Abolition of Executive Presidency

 Option-1 : Abolish Executive Presidency from a specified date through a   Referendum and elect a ‘Hybrid Governor General’ (HGG)from 3 to 5 candidates proposed by the Constitutional Council, with the vote of MPs and PC members. Apart from being the Commander- in- chief of the Country with other ceremonial powers, He/She will have additional powers to appoint Provincial Governors and through them ensure timely execution of Parliament approved Acts, Laws, Budgets and all programmes including the time-lined implementation of the Govt.’s Action plan as per its Election Manifesto while reporting accordingly to the Parliament.

Note: In this event, it will become necessary to hold Parliament and PC elections, to enable Parliament and PC members to vote for electing the HGG. Since the date for abolition of Executive Presidency has to be specified in the Referendum,it is best that  such Referendum too is   held along with the General and PC Elections on a single day. For this purpose, differently coloured ballot papers can be used. 

Benefits: i. The much despised Executive Presidency, the abolition of which became the main pledge of all political parties for 30 years becomes a reality.

  1. The Parliament becomes the supreme body with HGG playing a role as the ‘Executor’ of Parliament approved Acts, Laws, Budgets and all programmes including the time-lined programmes listed in the Election manifesto of the Govt. without red tape and reporting accordingly to the Parliament.

iii. The High cost of Presidential Elections will not be a burden any more to the Tax-Payers.

Option-2: Make ‘Executive President’ a ‘Non-partisan Statesman’ sans dictatorial powers subject to Judicial review, calling applications  only from ‘Independent’ Candidates, conforming to a robust set of eligibility criteria  to be laid down under the respective Act.

Benefits: i. An ‘Independent’ Executive President, will strengthen the proper functioning of the ‘3 Pillars’.

  1. Since article 94 of the Constitution provides for the 2nd and 3rd preference in the current ballot paper, it will be more meaningful and comfortable for the voter to select an alternate candidate among ‘Independents’.

The winner will be determined   after 2nd and 3rd preference votes are counted in favour of the 02 highest vote receiving candidates who have failed to obtain more than 50% of the total valid votes.

Option- 3 : If  Option -2  fails, the ‘Hobsons  choice’  would be to support the most suitable candidate who has nothing to lose under the existing system, and who independently vouches through his/her Election manifesto to overcome political pressure from selfish traditional Party politicians and legalise and effect the following  ‘New generation-System  changes’ within 01 year of his/ her appointment which is the most effective period for any leader as accepted worldwide.

  1. i) Holding the due General and PC elections and the Referendum for abolition of Executive Presidency on a single day, immediately after legalising ,
  2. a) Equality of vote and election of ‘Country first Political Professionals’ as Peoples Representatives on District and Electorate merit basis.(Methodology is available)
  3. b) Women and Youth Representation (20% each) at Parliament and PCs- (Methodology is available),
  4. c) Submission of Prosecutable,Monitorable, Genuine Party Election Manifestoes with a time-lined Action plan for 5 years,
  5. d) Registration of Political parties by stipulating stringent eligibility and high cash- deposit requirements to discourage registration of ‘Mushroom’/ decoy Parties and
  6. e) Abolishing long overdue ‘Cross over’ mockery.

  1. ii) Abolition of Executive Presidency within 2 years leading to election of a ‘Hybrid Governor General'(HGG) with the vote of MPs and PC members as stated above.

iii) Passage of other ‘New generation- system changes’ involving Political administration structure as stated below.

  1. a) Installation of a sustainable National Cabinet, by applying National vote % to allocate the Cabinet seats so that smaller parties too will be represented in the Cabinet reinforcing efforts to foster National unity through ‘Sri Lankan ness’.
  2. b) Strengthening PCs( If necessary with additional powers) and rationalizing the role of MPs, so that PC members at  the periphery will receive due recognition while the productivity of the MPs will increase.

 c). Depoliticisation of LG Elections. With the advent of proposed  ‘Jana Sabhas’ at Grama Niladhari Division level it will enable the local people to receive more intensive, meaningful, unbiased and un- corrupt service. (Methodology is available).  


If the sovereign voters decide to obtain the services of a short term Executive President for a final period of 02 years, to genuinely deliver the aforesaid changes in his/her Manifesto achieving the expectations of our Youth and the new generation, within a maximum period of 18 months, it would surely result in a change of our Political, media and peoples culture and provide a strong vehicle for the country to move forward with the rapidly changing global advancements.

Towards such end, it is imperative that ‘Mass media’ as the principal facilitators of Change and Country’s development efforts, shift the focus of their Prime time news/ Headlines from the ‘225’ at the Parliament and give priority to Provincial and local news Programmes with emphasis on innovative and viable Agricultural, Industrial and Socio –economic projects and services, that will inspire and motivate the polity to contribute their might to the Country.

If there is a will, there is a way !


Bernard Fernando

Former Deputy General Manager-BOC                          


Date: 16 -02 -2024

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