New electoral system does not reflect people’s aspirations: Govt should hold LG elections under old system - JVP | Sunday Observer

New electoral system does not reflect people’s aspirations: Govt should hold LG elections under old system - JVP

Anura Kumara Dissanayake Mp
Anura Kumara Dissanayake Mp

 

JVP Leader, Anura Kumara Dissanayake says, only the upcoming Local Government (LG) elections should be held under the old electoral system without postponing it further. In an interview with the Sunday Observer, the JVP veteran said, the new LG electoral system is distorted and doesn’t truly reflect the people’s aspirations. This electoral system definitely forces other political parties to align with one of the two major political parties, UNP or SLFP, since it has been formulated to completely ward off every political movement which separately contests the LG elections.

The JVP maintains the position that there can’t be different electoral systems for Local Government, Provincial Council and the General Elections. There should be a common electoral system for all these elections. At present, consensus has been reached at the Constitutional Council to draft a common electoral system which will be incorporated into the new Constitution.

Q: What is the JVP’s stand, should the Local Government Elections be held under the new electoral system or under the old system?

A. The new electoral system introduced for the LG elections is a distorted system which is not seen anywhere in the world. The key feature of an electoral system is that it should reflect the aspirations of the people in a fair manner. If the people have a desire for some political movement, its representation should reflect in that particular LG institution. But, this LG electoral system does not reflect the people’s aspiration at all.

It took more than two years to present the Delimitation Committee report. According to the information we have received, there is a possibility to take recourse to courts against the Delimitation Committee report. In addition, the number of members elected to the LG institutions has to be gazetted.

The Elections Commissioner has said, if the LG election is to be held under the new Act, 56 amendments have to be introduced to the Act. Therefore, this Act has to be amended once again. This has been a process that is being dragged on a for a long time.

Under the new electoral system, the total number of LG members is to be increased from 5,000 to 8,400 which is nearly a 60 percent increase. For example, the present number of 53 members of the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) may go up to 84.

There isn’t sufficient space at the CMC to accommodate such a large number at meetings. This issue will arise at each LG institution. Considering all these aspects, we are of the view that only the upcoming LG elections should be held under the old electoral system.

After that the Provincial Council Elections will have to be held. But Provincial Council elections are still held under the old electoral system.

Therefore, why introduce a distorted system only for the LG elections? Definitely, the Provincial Council elections will have to be held under the existing Proportional Representation (PR) system. If we go ahead with this new electoral system introduced for the LG elections, it would be difficult to prevent the postponement of the elections.

Q: What is the JVP’s stance on the proposed electoral reforms to be introduced under the new Constitution?

A. We have been able to reach a common consensus on the proposed electoral reforms which are being discussed at the Constitutional Council. But, there are a few issues to be sorted out, and I hope we can sort them out soon. At present, there is nearly 90 percent agreement on the electoral reforms.

Q: In your view, has the new LG electoral system caused any disadvantage to the minor political parties?

A. The new LG electoral system completely distorts the people’s opinion. For example, according to the prevailing electoral system, an electorate can only be won by a party which obtains 40 percent of votes.

A political party which obtains 40 percent of votes in each electorate will have 77 percent of representation in the LG bodies. But, if several political parties contest as a group and obtain 60 percent of the votes, they will have only 23 percent representation in the LG bodies. Therefore, it is a distorted electoral system and doesn’t truly reflect the people’s wish.

This system definitely forces other political parties to align with one of the two major political parties, UNP or SLFP. It has been formulated to completely ward off each political movement which separately contests the LG elections. It’s not only the JVP, but other political movements too have expressed their opposition to this electoral system.

Q: Do you think a similar injustice will be done to the small political parties under the proposed electoral reforms to the Constitution in Provincial Council and General Elections?

A. A new electoral system has not yet been drafted for the General Elections. We maintain the position that there can’t be different electoral systems for Local Government, Provincial Council and the General Elections.

There should be a common electoral system for all these elections.

At present, consensus has been reached at the Constitutional Council to draft a common electoral system which will be incorporated into the new Constitution.

That is why we call upon the Government, until a new electoral system is introduced, to hold the LG elections under the old system without further postponing them.

Q: At present, the Delimitation Committee report has been handed over to the Local Government Minister, and it has been gazetted. Has this delimitation process caused any injustice to minor political parties?

A. Rather than minor political parties, the delimitation has caused some sort of injustice to the political parties which represent various ethnic groups. Such political parties too have drawn their attention to this issue.

Q: Will the JVP propose any amendments or suggestions for this electoral system?

A. The LG electoral system has already been passed by Parliament. The sole purpose of the LG electoral system is to fully eliminate other political parties from politics, and pave the way for a two party political system.

We cannot put an end to this distorted electoral system by moving amendments. Therefore, we have presented amendments to change the fundamentals which have become the basis for the LG electoral system.

Q: If the Local Government elections are held under the old or new LG electoral system, is the JVP adequately equipped to contest the elections?

A. Definitely. We would be ready to face the election in whatever form it is held. First, we call upon the Government to immediately hold the LG elections.

This can only be fulfilled if the elections are held under the old system. Otherwise, there is no way to hold elections early. At present, the wish of the people is to have early LG elections.

Q: According to you, has this LG electoral system become more disadvantageous to minor political parties or parties formed on various ethnic grounds?

A. An electoral system should not be formulated focusing on the advantages or disadvantages caused to political parties.

It should be based entirely on the country’s representative democracy and should be a reflection of the people’s desire. But, this LG electoral system doesn’t reflect the people’s consent, but has created a distorted system.

Therefore, steps need to be taken to remove the distorted features in the electoral system. This system has been solely designed to ensure the survival of the party which is in a position to win the election. It will not even mete out justice to the party which will face defeat.

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