Old publications

This is a series that identifies older publications that relate to semi-presidentialism. The series is designed to highlight some work that may have been forgotten.

This post focuses on the following book:

A. Jeyaratnam Wilson, The Gaullist System in Asia. The Constitution of Sri Lanka, (1978), London and Basingstoke: Macmillan Press

This book focuses on the motivations behind the Sri Lankan constitution of 1978. This was a completely new constitution that replaced the previous parliamentary system. The book argues that the inspiration for the constitution was the French Fifth Republic. However, the constitution was never designed to be a simple imitation of the French constitution. It was designed to be an adaptation of various constitutional styles to suit the Sri Lankan context.

The book outlines the context in which the constitution was adopted, including the drafting process. There are then chapters on different institutions, including the presidency, and the government and parliament. There is a brief conclusion that reflects on how the constitution performed in the first year of its existence.

This is still one of the best studies of the Sri Lankan constitution, even if the party political landscape has changed. It also provides a very good study of constitutional choice.

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