Political culture and the Constitutional Council: The Third Executive in the democratic governance of Sri Lanka


  • R. Gunasekara University of Sri Jayewardenapura, Sri Lanka


Constitutions should reflect authentic means to obtain a broad public representation to ensure democratic consensus in decision making. The executive branch in any political system enjoys immense discretionary power in policy making. Therefore, it is common to recognize that the powers of the executive should be confined by strengthening the controls of the legislature and judiciary in order to safeguard democratic values. Sri Lanka has been criticized for the excessive power vested in the President and not overseen by Parliament or the judiciary. This controversy has been the major source of problems of nation building and socio-economic development. The Constitution’s section 19A (of 2015) applies a balance of power with the introduction of a Constitutional Council and endeavours to bridge the gap by providing for coexistence between President and Parliament. However, by 2019, the political establishment and academia have been increasingly critical of it, claiming it is a block on the discretionary powers of President and functions of Parliament. The main objective of this study is to examine the growth of democratic governance by analyzing the provision. The study draws three general conclusions. Firstly, even though the proportional representation-led party system and public opinion play a crucial role in diminishing the discretionary powers of the President, he/she retains excessive powers without being responsible to the legislature. Secondly, section 19A has minor and major errors in alignment and establishment: it is an ad hoc draft against the predecessor regime, fraught with minor inconsistencies and great miscalculation as to the political culture. The Constitutional Council is a prodigious initiative to balance power and eliminate nepotism and cronyism, which have been major impediments in the body politic of Sri Lanka.
Keywords: Constitution, executive, democracy, governance, political culture, Sri Lanka