Debutants in parliament: Doing better in the opposition

by Manthri.lk - Research Team posted over 9 years ago in Analysis

 

As many as 88 (38%) of the 225 members in the current Sri Lankan parliament are debutants – that is, they are first time members of parliament. The question is, who are they batting for, and how are they doing?  

Most New MPs are batting for the UPFA:
Almost three fourths, 62, of the debutants are sitting with the UPFA. 20 MPs are with the UNF, 4 with the TNA and 1 with the DNA.
 

But the UNF team is outscoring the rest:
Normally well represented groups can negotiate outcomes to their advantage. But according to Manthri.lk, a pioneering online platform that monitors and ranks all the proceedings and actors in parliament, debutants are not succeeding in making a mark in parliament despite their numbers. Manthri.lk’s data for 22 months, from May 2012-February 2014 shows that despite being one third in number, the UNF debutants contributed 20% more in parliament than the UPFA debutants.
 

To state it in another way the average contribution of the UNF debutants were about 4 times as much as the average contribution of UPFA debutants. Even the TNA debutants clock an average contribution that is twice as much as the UPFA debutants. The single DNF debutant has hardly contributed.      



Doing better in the opposition:
The top 5 of the top 10 debutants are from the UNF. Buddhika Pathirana tops the list, with over 9 thousand productive minutes in parliament, followed closely by Ajith Perera, Sujeewa Senasinghe, Harsha De Silva and Eran Wickramaratne.
     

 

The opposite is true for the new MPs from the UPFA where 9 of the 10 worst performing MPs in parliament are from the UPFA.  

The Opportunities for Debutants:
13 of the 88 new MPs have performed better than the average continuing MPs. New MPs therefore certainly can succeed in parliament even though even though it is possible that they are afforded less priority by their party whips, compared to the seniors.
 

How do debutants contribute? New MPs who succeed do so by making their own opportunities – They have relatively higher rates of contribution in Adjournment motions, written questions, points of order and petitions, which are not usually constrained by the party whips. But even areas that depend on the party whip, such as Bill debates show relatively high levels of contribution from the new MPs.    



What explains the higher contributions from the new UNF MPs? Are the new MPs in UNF ranks of a higher calibre than the rest? Or is the UNF better at giving their new MPs more opportunities? Why do you think new MPs in government have such a low level of activity? Please share your thoughts with Manthri.lk at www.manthri.lk/en/blog; or through texting 071-4639882.

 


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