Electoral reforms will benefit voters, parties - Dinesh Gunawardena
The new electoral reforms under which elections are to be held early
next year will immensely benefit the voters since they will be empowered
in all development-related works, Minister of Water Supply and Drainage
Dinesh Gunawardena, who is also Chairman of the Parliamentary Select
Committee on Electoral Reforms (PSCER), told the Sunday Observer.
The Bill which has already been tabled in Parliament is more
advantageous to all political parties and political groups contesting
the polls, including those of the ethnic minorities and there will be no
For the first time in the history of local government polls there
will be multi-member wards. There will be re-demarcation of Grama
Niladhari divisions and also areas under the jurisdiction of local
government bodies, with provisions for increasing the political
representation of minority communities, he said.
It is possible for a first member, a second member and in some cases,
a third member to be elected from one ward, he said.
He expressed concern that some political parties were resisting the
Bill without comprehending its benefits. Some of them depend only on
preferential votes to win.
The PSCER went through a long process of deliberations and
consultations with all political parties and political groups before
drafting the Bill.
However, the Government is open for talks with any political party
that may make its representations with just, valid and logical reasons
so that the changes can be incorporated to the Bill, Minister
The seven-day time limit, after presenting the Bill in Parliament,
for filing a petition in the Supreme Court (SC) lapsed last Wednesday,
The orders of the SC on petitions that will be taken up for hearing
will be communicated to the Speaker of the House. He expressed optimism
that the Bill will not be delayed.
Fifty nine political parties have already been registered with the
Commissioner of Elections and are recognised by him.
With more independent groups contesting the polls, some of them to
appease and help others, the ballot papers will be very long and more
expensive to print.
The deposits for independent candidates have been fixed at a higher
level than those for recognised political parties to cover the costs,
the Minister said.