Foreign Affairs

The Extended Term Answer To Sri Lanka’s Ethnic Difficulty

By Aravinth Kumar &#8211

Aravinth Kumar

Aravinth Kumar

Switzerland (officially recognized as the Swiss Confederation) is a nation created up of four native ethnic groups Swiss Germans (generating up two/3rd of the population live mainly in the north, centre and east), Swiss French (largest minority group at 20% live mainly in the west, which is recognized non-officially as Romandie), Swiss Italians (around 7% reside mostly in the south-east) and the Romansh (.five%). What is striking is that every of the three large ethnic groups live next door to their respective nation of language origin i.e. the Swiss Germans reside subsequent to Germany, the Swiss French next to France and the Swiss Italians next to Italy. Switzerland as a nation should not genuinely exist! But, it does. Switzerland has somehow been in a position to keep all these distinct ethnic groups in one united country. So how come, even although Switzerland has a “large majority, huge minority” circumstance like Sri Lanka, it has not been confounded by the exact same ethnic dilemma that Sri Lanka has had to deal with? How come the Swiss French have by no means fought to separate and type a new country called “Romandie” (or even merge with France)?

Sprachen CH 2000 EN

 *Swiss Federal Statistical Office census of 2000 &#8211 Source &#8211 Wikipedia, Marco Zanoli.

It all comes down to the way in which the country is governed. Switzerland is a federal parliamentary republic consisting of 26 cantons. The unity of the nation is upheld by the Federal Council (executive level) and a two-tier parliament (legislative level). Collectively, they are in charge of managing the country’s foreign affairs, defence and security policies, financial matters and enacting legislation that applies throughout the complete country (the federal laws usually takes precedence). The cantons are equivalent in size to a district in Sri Lanka. Just like the districts, every canton is mainly inhibited by one ethnic group 17 cantons are German-speaking, four cantons are French-speaking, 1 canton is Italian-speaking, three cantons are bilingual (German and French) and 1 canton is trilingual (German, Italian and Romansh). Nonetheless, as opposed to the districts, every canton is offered a big degree of autonomy they have their personal constitution, legislature, government and courts. The cantons are accountable for their personal healthcare, welfare, law enforcement, education and taxation. 

The purpose behind why each and every canton is supplied a massive degree of autonomy is due to Switzerland’s recognition that the population requirements in every canton differ due to the political, social and financial difficulties peculiar to that particular canton itself (this is even the case amongst two linguistically comparable cantons). They have understood that a cantonal government compared to a central government, which could be situated on the other side of the nation, has a greater capability at formulating policies which meet the regional requirements. This is since, not only do the cantonal government representatives reside in proximity to the folks, they are usually from the very same community. As a outcome, they are in a far better position to recognize the problems in their canton and provide special options which take into account the distinct culture, history, language and religious practise.

In addition, with each and every canton obtaining the indicates to develop their respective area, it has allowed for a greater spread of development countrywide. This has prevented just the capital city and its surrounding location to develop like we find in Sri Lanka. For instance, the German speaking Zürich, the bilingual speaking Federal Capital Bern and French speaking Geneva (found in the north-central, centre and intense south-west respectively) are all ranked in the prime ten most liveable cities in the world by Mercer. Far more so, Zürich and Geneva are each ranked in the top ten leading global cities.

In my opinion, this is the defining explanation why Switzerland has not been challenged with ethnic difficulties. I think that the root trigger of the ethnic dilemma comes down to accessibility. The reason the Swiss Germans, French and Italians are in a position to co-exist peacefully is due to each group having the potential to access the most coveted jobs due to their respective cantons possessing the power to bring job generating investments. This has stopped a predicament of unequal distribution and therefore prevented a predicament where one ethnic group perceives (which might be reality or not) that they are getting discriminated against. This has regrettably not been the case in Sri Lanka were accessibility has usually been unequally distributed. This inability to access the greatest education or jobs has been what led the Sinhalese and Tamils turning to extremist elements. For instance, if we appear at Sri Lanka pre 1956 and post 1956 we can see that in each and every era one ethnic group was reduce off from the best jobs. Pre 1956, the most sought after jobs exactly where mostly accessible by the Tamils. This was due to the need to be fluent in English and the disproportionate number of English medium schools being situated in the Tamil north. This meant the majority of Sinhalese have been cut off from the greatest paid jobs, top to a large earnings disparity with the Tamils. Stuck in poorly paid jobs, the Sinhalese exactly where simply swayed by the newly formed Sinhalese nationalist party, the SLFP, who had been campaigning for Sinhala to replace English. Consequently, with the SLFP effortlessly winning the 1956 election and making Sinhala the official language, the ideal jobs became inaccessible to most Tamils. This in turn developed a large aggravated group who became effortlessly influenced by extreme Tamil nationalists.

Nonetheless, the Swiss model also has the benefit of bringing advantages to the most deprived individuals in a single ethnic group. The Sinhalese have had their fair share of protests and riots aimed at a government dominated by “their” people e.g. the JVP uprising. Quite a few governments in Sri Lanka have failed to bring top quality jobs to the youth in the rural districts, such as in the Monaragala district, exactly where poverty is rampant. This is entirely diverse to Switzerland, exactly where irrespective if a Swiss German lives in the north or the south, they each equally have access to the same (high) regular of living.

Sri Lankan’s parliamentary and/or presidential elections are synonymous with majority and minority political parties scapegoating the opposing ethnic groups for political gain. Far more so, it is typical to see the biggest parties (SLFP and UNP) appealing purely to the Sinhalese neighborhood, since gaining the majority of Sinhalese vote typically ensures a win. This “divide and rule” tactic utilized by politicians has only ever had the impact of arousing communal conflicts. Yet, even though Switzerland’s political parties can also appeal purely to the German majority, this is not observed.

The explanation is, firstly, the German politicians are in no position to be capable to scapegoat the issues the German community faces on the minorities. This is because, each of the German cantons has power, and hence the faults lie with the German representatives of that respective canton. Secondly, all political parties run on a pan Swiss identity i.e. there are no parties which run on a communal line like in Sri Lanka with the likes of the TNA, SLMC and JHU. Lastly, the structure of the federal level is created in such a way that no ethnic group holds excessive energy. The federal level is split amongst two levels bicameral parliament (legislative) and the Federal Council (executive). Parliament is formed of two houses the Council of States (46 representatives where every canton are represented by two members and every half canton are represented by one particular member) and the National Council (200 members who are elected below a program of proportional representation based on the population of the cantons). Due to this structure, the voice of every single ethnic canton is represented therefore no ethnic group can push for legislation which favours one ethnic group more than an additional. Additionally, the Federal Council of Switzerland is also representative of both the majority and minority. This is because the executive powers are not centred with a single person, rather it is collectively shared between seven members (recognized as councillors the seven councillors every single hold a single of the seven cabinet positions) who are selected from different ethnic cantons. As factors at present stand, the Federal Council is produced up of 5 German and 2 French councillors.

Way forward

For as well long, we have looked at the USA, UK and India as a model of governance to bring lasting peace. These have been attempted and failed models. Most agree, Tamil and Sinhalese alike, that the Indian pushed “13th Amendment” will not bring lengthy lasting peace. Consequently, I firmly think it is time for us to as an alternative tailor a new governance technique primarily based on the Swiss federal model. Right after all, it is a method which has shown to be workable in a comparable sized nation which has a small but diverse multi-linguistic population. It has designed a country where a single can be proud to be a German, French or Italian whilst also becoming proud to be Swiss. Funnily enough, this federal structure came about a few years right after Switzerland’s own civil war 200 years ago. Because then, Switzerland has not faced an internal (or external) armed conflict which is testament to how well the federal structure has worked.

Under is a short outline of how Sri Lanka would operate below a Swiss style model of governance.

  • 3 official languages Sinhala, Tamil and English
  • All citizens of Sri Lanka will be treated equally irrespective of ethnicity, religion, gender or sex
  • Federally Sri Lanka will be secular
  • Introduction of direct democracy Switzerland is the only country in the planet that delivers this. It offers the citizens with an capability to challenge a law passed by the Federal/Canton Parliament
  • Sri Lanka will adhere to a line of firm neutrality this is quite critical to prevent Sri Lanka becoming impacted by any fallout among our regional friends such as India, Pakistan, and China. It helped save Switzerland from getting dragged into the Globe Wars and also prevented ethnic discomfort between the Swiss Germans and the Swiss French throughout the war periods when France and Germany exactly where enemies.
  • Sri Lanka will be split into 3 political levels Federal, District and Divisional Secretariats.


The federal responsibilities will be the exact same as in Switzerland i.e. foreign, defence and safety policy, monetary matters and enacting legislation that applies throughout the whole nation.

The executive powers will be exercised by the “Federal Council of Sri Lanka”, which will act as each the head of government and head of state. The legislative power is allocated to the two chambers of the “Federal Assembly of Sri Lanka”. The judiciary will stay independent of the executive and the legislature, with energy getting exercised by the “Federal Supreme Court of Sri Lanka” (comparable to the existing Supreme Court). Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte will be the seat of all federal authorities.

Federal Council of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s government will consist of nine members with every member coming from the nine ceremonial provinces (the provinces won’t have any power). The member to “represent” a province will come from the districts which kind a province. For instance, the Western Province is formed of three districts Colombo District, Gampaha District, Kalutara District. Each four years the leader of these three districts will rotate about as the representative of the Western Province.

Every of the nine members will have equal rights. They will every single act as a head of department (cabinet) in the federal administration, but like in Switzerland, all government decisions will be taken in a weekly conference either by consensus or by majority voting of the nine members. The following is a table of the departments which are fixed at nine (Note: the federal functions are not set in stone for each province i.e. the Central Province is not stuck forever with the “Department of Environment and Energy”).

AALike in Switzerland, there will be no complete time head of state. Rather the federal council will act collectively as the head of state. Nonetheless, like in Switzerland, due to the national and international need to have for a distinct individual to represent the country, the representational functions of a president will be taken by a single of the members through a yearly rotation system e.g. the Central Province member will be president with the Eastern Province member as Vice President. The following year, the Eastern member will turn out to be president and the North Central member becoming Vice President etc.

The ‘president’ will be in charge of setting the agenda of the weekly conferences but will have no powers going above and beyond other members. They will also be in charge of addressing the individuals at national and international functions. Nevertheless, like in Switzerland, during any foreign state go to, the foreign leader will be met by the government ‘in corpore’ i.e. by all the members.

Federal Assembly

Sri Lanka will have two tier assembly created up of the
Council of districts (Upper property):

  • Council to represent the 25 districts with elections every four years.
  • Every single district will send two members top to a total of 50 members.

National council (Decrease Property):

  • 200 members elected below a proportional election system. Elections occur every single four years taking place simultaneously with the elections for the Council of Districts.
  • This will act related to the current Sri Lankan parliament.

District and Divisional Secretariats

  • Like the cantons, the districts will have far reaching powers and will choose themselves how to be run. However, all district laws have to conform to the Federal Law.
  • The districts will be further sub divided into the pre-existing divisional secretariats. These will have the very same powers that their equivalent in Switzerland, the communes, has.

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