Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Politics of Sri Lanka
The President of the Republic, directly elected for a 6-year term, is chief of state, head of government, and commander in chief of the armed forces. The election occurs under the Sri Lankan form of the Supplementary Vote. Responsible to Parliament for the exercise of duties under the constitution and laws, the president may be removed from office by a two-thirds vote of Parliament with the concurrence of the Supreme Court.
The president appoints and heads a cabinet of ministers responsible to Parliament. The president's deputy is the prime minister, who leads the ruling party in Parliament. A parliamentary no-confidence vote requires dissolution of the cabinet and the appointment of a new one by the president.
Parliament is a unicameral 225-member legislature elected by universal suffrage and proportional representation to a 6-year term. The president may summon, suspend, or end a legislative session and dissolve Parliament. Parliament reserves the power to make all laws.
Sri Lanka's judiciary consists of a Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, High Court, and a number of subordinate courts. Sri Lanka's legal system reflects diverse cultural influences. Criminal law is fundamentally British. Basic civil law is Roman-Dutch. Laws pertaining to marriage, divorce, and inheritance are communal.
Local government is divided into two parallel structures, the civil service, which dates to colonial times, and the provincial councils, which were established in 1987.
Civil Service Structure
The country is divided into 26 districts, each of which has a district secretary (the GA, or Government Agent) who is appointed. Each district comprises 5-16 divisions, each with a DS, or divisional secretary, again, appointed. At a village level Grama Niladari (Village Officers), Samurdhi Niladari (Development Officers) and agriculture extension officers work for the DSs.
Provincial Council Structure
Under the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord of July 1987--and the resulting 13th amendment to the constitution--the Government of Sri Lanka agreed to devolve some authority to the provinces. Provincial councils (between 9 and 11, depending on whether one counts the LTTE areas as under government control) are directly elected for 5-year terms. The leader of the council majority serves as the province's Chief Minister; a provincial governor is appointed by the president. The councils possess limited powers in education, health, rural development, social services, agriculture, security, and local taxation. Many of these powers are shared or subject to central government oversight. Predating the accord are municipal, urban, and rural councils with limited powers. Below the provincial level are elected Municipal Councils and Urban Councils, responsible for municialities and cities respectively, and below this level Pradeshiya Sabhas (village councils), again elected.
Sri Lanka's two major political parties -- the United National Party and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party -- embrace democratic values, international nonalignment, and encouragement of Sinhalese culture. Past differences between the two on foreign and economic policy have narrowed. Generally, the SLFP envisions a broader role for the state, and the UNP a broader role for capitalism.
Sri Lanka has a multi-party democracy that enjoys surprising stability given the high levels of political violence. During the civil war the LTTE has targeted politicians (Sinhalese and Tamil), economic targets, and Buddhist religious sites. Recent elections have also seen increasing election violence between the SLFP and the UNP.
The president dissolved the parliament in Feb 2004 after a two year term (though the parliament was elected for a 6 year term.) The election was held on 2nd April 2004. The SLFP in alliance with the JVP secured the most number of seats by a single party but failed to achieve a majority. As a result they lost the very first vote in parliament; that of appointment of the speaker. As a result the parliament has not passed a single bill from february to May.
conventional long form: Sri Lanka Prajatantrika Samajavadi Janarajaya (Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka)
conventional short form: Sri Lanka
Data code: CE
Government type: Socialist Republic
Capital: Sri Jayewardanapura Kotte
Administrative divisions: 8 provinces; Central, North Central, North Eastern, North Western, Sabaragamuwa, Southern, Uva, Western
National holiday: Independence and National Day, February 4, 1948
Constitution: adopted August 16, 1978
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
chief of state: President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga (since November 12, 1994)
head of government: President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga (since November 12, 1994); note - Mahinda Rajapakse is the prime minister; in Sri Lanka the president is both the chief of state and the head of the government, whereas in most governments the roles are given respectively to the president and prime minister when both offices exist. Yet Wickremasinghe acted much like a head of government for his first two years in power.
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president in consultation with the prime minister
elections: president elected by popular vote for a six-year term; election last held December 21, 1999 (next to be held NA December 2005)
election results: Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga reelected president; percent of vote - Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga (PA) 51%, Ranil Wickremasinghe (UNP) 42%, other 7%
unicameral Parliament (225 seats; members elected by popular vote on the basis of a modified proportional representation system by district to serve six-year terms)
elections: last held December 7, 2001
election results: 2001 (75.8 % turnout) percent of vote by party - Ekshat Jathika Pakshaya (United National Party, UNP) 45.6%, Bahejana Nidasa Pakhsaya (People's Alliance, PA - main constituent is Sri Lanka Freedom Party ) 37.3%, Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP, People's United Liberation Front) 9.1%, Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) 3.9%, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) 1.2%, Eelam People's Democratic Party (EPDP) 0.8%, Democratic People's Liberation Front (DPLF) 0.2%, the Sinhala Urumaya (0.6%) and the New Left Front (0.5%) and other small parties gained no seats.
1994 percent of vote by party - PA 49.0%, UNP 44.0%, SLMC 1.8%, TULF 1.7%, SLPF 1.1%, EPDP 0.3%, UPF 0.3%, PLOTE 0.1%, other 1.7%; seats by party - PA 105, UNP 94, EPDP 9, SLMC 7, TULF 5, PLOTE 3, SLPF 1, UPF 1
Judicial branch: Supreme Court, judges are appointed by the president; Court of Appeals, judges are appointed by the president
Political parties and leaders:
Political power in Sri Lanka has so far always been held by one of two parties, alone or in alliance with smaller parties. The older is the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP, led by Chandrika Kumaratunga), with its allies making up the United People's Freedom Alliance (formerly the People's Alliance). The United National Front (UNF) is built around the United National Party (UNP, led by Ranil Wickremesinghe).
Other significant parties today include the Tamil United Liberation Front (the main component of the Tamil National Alliance, the LTTE-friendly parties), the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP, mainstreamed from its violent past and currently part of the United People's Freedom Alliance), and the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC).
There are many other small parties (also see the List of political parties in Sri Lanka): All Ceylon Tamil Congress or ACTC [leader NA]; Ceylon Workers Congress or CWC [leader NA]; Communist Party [leader NA]; Communist Party/Beijing or CP/B [leader NA]; Democratic People's Liberation Front or DPLF [leader NA]; Democratic United National (Lalith) Front or DUNLF [leader NA]; Desha Vimukthi Janatha Party or DVJP [leader NA]; Eelam People's Democratic Party or EPDP [leader NA]; Eelam People's Revolutionary Liberation Front or EPRLF [leader NA]; Eelam Revolutionary Organization of Students or EROS [leader NA]; Lanka Socialist Party/Trotskyite or LSSP (Lanka Sama Samaja Party) [leader NA]; Liberal Party or LP [leader NA]; New Socialist Party or NSSP (Nava Sama Samaja Party) [leader NA]; People's Liberation Organization of Tamil Eelam or PLOTE [D. SIDDHARTHAN]; People's United Front or MEP (Mahajana Eksath Peramuna) [Dinesh GUNAWARDENE]; Sri Lanka People's Party or SLMP (Sri Lanka Mahajana Party) [leader NA]; Sri Lanka Progressive Front or SLPF [leader NA]; Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization or TELO [leader NA]; Upcountry People's Front or UPF [leader NA]; several other ethnic Tamil and Muslim parties, represented in either parliament or provincial councils
Political pressure groups and leaders: Buddhist clergy; labor unions; Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam or LTTE (insurgent group fighting for a separate state); radical chauvinist Sinhalese groups such as the National Movement Against Terrorism; Sinhalese Buddhist lay groups.
International organization participation: AsDB, C, CCC, CP, ESCAP, FAO, G-24 , G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, NAM, OAS (observer), OPCW, PCA, SAARC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNU, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO.
Flag description: yellow with two panels; the smaller hoist-side panel has two equal vertical bands of green (hoist side) and orange; the other panel is a large dark red rectangle with a yellow lion holding a sword, and there is a yellow bo leaf in each corner; the yellow field appears as a border that goes around the entire flag and extends between the two panels
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