Challenges of Moving into a Devolved Polity in Sri Lanka

  • Asoka Gunawardena
  • Weligamage D. Lakshman


Sri Lanka, called Ceylon prior to 1972, was a colony in the British Empire for nearly a century and a half from 1802. In 1948 it re-obtained its independence as a “dominion” in the British Commonwealth of Nations with the British Queen as head of state represented in Sri Lanka by a governor general. In the Westminster style of cabinet government at the time, the head of the government was the prime minister with a cabinet of ministers selected by him/her from the parliament. The prime minister and the cabinet formed the executive arm of the government. The parliament was bicameral at the time, consisting of a popularly elected house of representatives and a senate, half of which was appointed by the government in power and the other half elected by the house of representatives. People in Sri Lanka enjoyed the right of universal adult franchise from 1931, many years before political independence. In 1972, a new Constitution was promulgated making the country a republic within the Commonwealth with its “dominion” link to the British Queen severed. The governor general was replaced by a president appointed by the parliament on the recommendation of the prime minister. The second chamber, the Senate, was abolished in 1972. The unicameral legislature was called the National State Assembly.


District Council Parliamentary Election Constitutional Reform Administrative Reform Total Government Expenditure 
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Copyright information

© Physica-Verlag Heidelberg 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Asoka Gunawardena
    • 1
  • Weligamage D. Lakshman
    • 2
  1. 1.Finance CommissionColomboSri Lanka
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsUniversity of ColomboColombo

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