Photo: Interactive Dialogue on “Revenue Generation as a Pathway to Sri Lanka’s Economic Recovery” held with the participation of Members of Parliament on August 10, 2022. Source: Parliament of Sri Lanka @ParliamentLK - Photo: 2022

Abolish Political Parties in Impending New Sri Lankan Constitution

Viewpoint by P. Soma Palan

COLOMBO (IDN) — I have advocated the abolition of political parties from contesting elections to form a government, in previous articles, both in the electronic and print media. In the present unprecedented political, economic, financial and social instability in the country, the need to revive this plea assumes greater relevance and importance.

My proposal may be dismissed as an absurdity by politicians and others as an impractical, unrealistic and even eccentric idea.

Why do we need to abolish political parties?

  • Firstly, political parties are the root cause of all ills and evils in governance and the country. Elections are monopolized by the political parties. Political parties nominate candidates for elections. That is, political parties have pre-decided the representatives the people should elect. The people merely vote for their candidates. It is the only choice.

In reality, people vote for a political party, not the candidate. This is not a true democracy. The political party, which garners a majority of candidates, forms a government. Those that fail to get a majority vote will not be in the Government but slumbering in the opposition in inane criticism of the Government, which is of no useful value. A government and opposition dichotomy is an innate feature of the political party-based elections.

  • Political parties are divisive, religion- and racist-based, either overtly or covertly. The people are fragmented into political factions. It leads to hostility and violence amongst the people.
  • Political parties are family-centric and perpetuate family rule, and contesting elections is passed from father to children.
  • The political party Government is open to bribery and corruption. The organized party solidarity facilitates corruption and concealing them; it promotes nepotism and favouritism in appointments to state institutions and overseas diplomatic missions.
  • Crossing over of MPs from opposition to the Government is a common feature, enticed by financial inducement and offer of cabinet and state ministerial posts with perks. As a result, Governments carry a heavy load of ministers as passengers at the cost of public funds. The crossovers of MPs make a comedy of democracy.
  • Political party interest supersedes that of the nation. Political parties invite funding from the business community in return for favours, and the latter have unseen power and influence over the Government.
  • Many political parties have made the electoral process and procedure complicated, complex and cumbersome. During the early post-independence period, the electoral system was simple. The electoral unit was the constituency. Elections results were decided by the simple first past the post method. It was more democratic as there was a closer relationship between the people and their representatives to the Parliament. The change to the existing district-based elections, proportional representation, preferential voting, and allocation of national list members to Parliament makes it cumbersome.

The alternative for the political party Government

The only alternative is that independent individuals should seek nomination for elections to represent the people in Parliament, subject to qualifications. A minimum education and age qualification is an absolute requirement. The minimum education should be degree from a university or equivalent professional qualification. The age should not exceed 65 years. This lack of education is reflected in the rowdy and uncultured behaviour of members of Parliament today.

Methodology of forming a government of independent individuals.

  1. Independent individuals self-nominate themselves for Parliamentary elections. The number of nominations to each constituency should be limited relative to the density of the population. Currently, there would be 225 electoral constituencies in the country.
  2. The election is conducted under the First-Past-the-Post method.
  3. After the conclusion of the elections, all elected as members of Parliament shall assemble at an inaugural meeting of Parliament fixed by the secretary-general of the Parliament and chaired by him, pro term. The first task is appointing a Prime Minister, Speaker, and Deputy Speaker. The Chairman shall nominate three names for each position based on the highest number of votes polled by the voters at the election of a member. The selection of the Prime Minister, Speaker, and Deputy Speaker of the House, will be decided by the vote of all members of Parliament. Once the Speaker is chosen by vote, he shall take over the proceedings as Chairman.
  4. The Prime Minister will have the discretion to choose his team of Cabinet Ministers and Deputy Ministers from the rest of all Members based on their Personal Biodata, such as their Educational and/or professional qualifications and experience. The Ministerial Portfolios allocated should have an affinity, as far as possible, to their qualifications and experience.
  5. The number of Cabinet Ministers and Deputy Ministers should not exceed 25, respectively.
  6. The position of State Ministers should be abolished. These are ambiguous and vague positions, with no exact clarity of their role and functions. It is used mainly to woo Opposition members to the Government side.
  7. All the balance Members of Parliament (172) would serve as members in 25 Executive Committees corresponding to the Cabinet of Ministers, each headed by a Minister. Each Executive Committee may have 6 or 7 members based on the size of the Ministry. The members of each Executive Committee can oversee and administer allotted Departments and Institutions coming under each Ministry. With the abolition of political parties, the Opposition will become defunct. Thus, all members of Parliament will form the Government and participate in the Governance of the Country.
  8. The non-existence of opposition does not mean the end of the debate, discussion and deliberation in the legislative business of Parliament. Differences on any issue will be settled by a majority vote.
  9. The legislative process and procedures of Parliament will continue as they existed hitherto.
  10. The life span of the Government will run its normal course for four-and-a-half or five years until the next election. If they wish, the ex-Members of Parliament belonging to the abolished political parties can seek election as Independent Individuals. The constituency’s voters could affirm and re-elect their representatives or reject them if their performance and service to the constituency and/or to the country were found wanting and elect a new candidate as their representatives at periodic elections.

Benefits of a Government without political parties?

  1. The simplification of the electoral process.
  2. A direct and closer relationship between the constituency and their elected representatives.
  3. Democratization of the electoral process. The people truly elect their representatives, not those nominated and thrust on them by the political parties.
  4. A substantial reduction in the cost of campaigning a candidate. Canvassing and campaigning by placards, banners, display of personal pictures and holding public meetings, loudspeakers, crowd-attracting musical shows etc., will become superfluous. Canvassing will be confined to house-to-house visits and handouts of leaflets containing personal data, such as education, professional qualification and experience of the candidates etc.
  5. Elimination of pre- and post-election violence and internecine party rivalry. Promote peace and order in the country.
  6. A Government elected, sans political parties, will indeed be a National Government and not that of one political party or parties of a coalition. Political parties habitually refer to the Government as their political party Government. Without political parties, it would be rightly called the Government of Sri Lanka.
  7. Without political parties, race and religion will not take centre stage. Even the minority communities’ members can participate in the country’s governance and have a sense of ownership in the country’s government. This will promote the social integration of people of different races and religions.
  8. The scope for bribery and corruption will be difficult as the Government is composed of disparate independent individuals. There will be a mutual check between all members of Parliament. Each member of Parliament would be a watchdog of the other. Therefore, more transparency will prevail, and clandestine corrupt deals will be impossible.
  9. The conduct of the business of Parliament will be orderly and decorous. The debates and discussions would not be adversarial and confrontational, degenerating into physical violence since there is no Opposition.
  10. The Government will be truly national and secular in character.
  11. A political party manifesto is a precondition of a political party-based election to seek a mandate of the people. By its very nature, an election based on independent individuals cannot preconceive and present a manifesto. A party-less Government can only present a post-election Action Plan or Program of work to be done during its tenure. As representatives of the people, the Government has the delegated authority to do what is good, and in the best interest of the country and people.
  12. The government will be more stable and run its normal course without any obstacles and ensure smoother governance and administration of the country.
  13. A non-party Government is not subject to vagaries of change. There will be consistency and continuity of policies and positions, unlike a political party Government when there is a change of the political party. Internationally, countries will have more reliance and confidence in such a government.

Sri Lanka has a plethora of political parties. The political parties proliferate in proportion to the desires of individuals to be a Leader. All crave to be leaders. Political party-based Government is exclusive and not inclusive. It excludes a substantial part of the populace who did not vote for a government.

A strong argument against a government without a political party is that it is only theoretical and not practicable, pragmatic and realistic. The assumption is that Political parties and Democratic Government is inseparable and conjoined.  Even in ancient Athens, the cradle of Democracy, political parties did not exist. The citizens directly ruled the country. But a direct Democracy is inconceivable and impossible in modern times. Hence, the people elect their representatives to rule the country. This gave rise to the emergence of political parties.

The abolition of political parties in a new Constitution seems impractical and non-achievable because a government born out of political parties will not self-annihilate itself. Therefore, the pragmatists hold that we have to live with that reality even if the system is defective. If there is a wide clamour for the abolition of the defective Executive Presidency in the Constitution, why cannot Political parties also be abolished in the Constitution?

If the larger interest of the country is paramount, Political parties should be abolished in a new Constitution. The Parliament does not frame a constitution. It is an extraneous body outside Parliament, composed of legal experts in constitutional law, intellectuals and academics who frame a constitution. Parliament’s function is to adopt and ratify it.


The country is faced with severe political, economic and social instability. In the wake of mass protests, the President fled the country, preceded by the resignation of the Prime Minister. Parliament elected an Interim President and a Prime Minister. There are calls from various quarters for the formation of an All-Party Government. The new President has invited All Political parties to join an All Party

National Government

The keywords in the preceding statement are “All Parties” and “National Government”. This means that all divergent Political parties have to set aside their Identities, Ideologies, and agendas and coalesce into one whole in Governing the country for an Interim limited period until a fresh election is held. In other words, it effectively means that Political parties are suspended, and such a Government will be National.

If this ad hoc arrangement is possible for an interim period, why not abolish political parties in the Constitution and have elections based on independent individuals? This vindicates that Political Party Government cannot be National. Conversely, a National Government cannot subsist with Political parties. This validates my thesis for abolishing political parties wholesale in the Constitution. Then, we can have a truly National Government for perpetuity.

Recently a faction of the Sri Lanka Podu Peramuna had decided to leave the Party and sit as independent members in Parliament. Being elected by the people’s votes based on their party manifesto and then later reverting to being Independents and sitting in Parliament is a betrayal of the wishes of their voters and is anti-Democratic.

It is far more Democratic and decent to be Independents at the very beginning of the election. The above incident further validates and reaffirms my call for the abolition of Political parties in the Constitution and replacing it with Independent Individuals.

Note: The writer, who describes himself as a world citizen, is a peace activist with an abiding interest in preserving Planet Earth. He has been influenced by spiritual celebrities like Swami Vivekananda, Sadh Guru, Jiddu Krishnamurti and others. He can be reached at: [IDN-InDepthNews – 18 August 2022]

Photo: Interactive Dialogue on “Revenue Generation as a Pathway to Sri Lanka’s Economic Recovery” held with the participation of Members of Parliament on August 10, 2022. Source: Parliament of Sri Lanka @ParliamentLK

IDN is the flagship agency of the Non-profit International Press Syndicate.

This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence. You are free to share, remix, tweak and build upon it non-commercially. Please give due credit.

Related Posts

Begin typing your search term above and press enter to search. Press ESC to cancel.

Back To Top