4 March, 2024


Refine PR Arithmetic & Allocate Seats For Parliament & Cabinet For A ‘Permanent People’s Govt.

By Bernard Fernando –

Bernard Fernando

The following is an excerpt from a letter to the Editor that appeared in the national Press after the 2020-Election results were published.

“Explain confusing results (sic)

What is incomprehensible for me is JJB, which polled 445,958 votes ended up with three seats and ITAK polling lower, with 327,168 votes got 10 seats in Parliament! Am I daft? Or is there a misprint of numbers? Or is there a gross misrepresentation of people? Same goes for AITC, EPDP, TMVP, OPPP, etc. All were averaging around 67,000 votes but ended up getting one or two seats. For example, EPDP polling 61,000 ended up getting the same number of seats as the JJB, which polled 445,958! I’ll be grateful if someone can enlighten me and the other readers, of this phenomenon of proportional representation.”

It spurred me to retrieve from my archives, a clarion call of mine that appeared in the Press under the title ‘Change PR arithmetic for seat allocation’, in the aftermath of the 2015 General Election. Interestingly, my aforesaid article too commenced with a similar paragraph as follows.

“Many good governance supporters ask the question why the JVP having polled a national vote of 543,944 votes won only 4 seats while the TNA with a lesser total vote of 515,963 confined to the North and Eastern Provinces garnered 14 seats out of 196 contested seats.”

Is it a ‘Misprint’ or a ‘Misrepresentation’?

I believe that ‘Citizen S’and the readers will garner a better understanding of the issue based on the following facts from my said article, the contents of which appear to have felt on deaf ears of the concerned authorities for the last 5 years.

The results of the recent Parliamentary Election too have revealed the same short comings in the basis adopted when applying the Proportionate Representation (PR) arithmetic to allocate seats. However, at the outset it must be categorically stated that it is not a drawback of the most democratic PR System which ensures a ‘shared- Democracy’.

It is clear that this phenomenon that became incomprehensible to ‘Citizen S’ has arisen due to, 1) the allocation of seats to 22 unequally populated District units, coupled with the grant of 01 bonus seat to each of 22 District winners, 2) deduction of total No. of votes of parties who have obtained less than minimum of 5% of the total valid votes in 22 districts to arrive at the ‘Relevant vote’ figure and 3) the arithmetical ‘Rounding- off’ ‘ of  votes happening in as many as 22 places, leading to a substantial number of votes from 22 Districts  belonging specially to smaller but recognised parties like the JJB(JVP) going in to the ‘Waste paper Basket’, in an arithmetical exercise to allocate 196 seats for 01 National Parliament..

Due to the combined effect of the aforesaid reasons, (in addition to ‘Citizen S’ concerns), the JJB which obtained as many as 30,000 to 37,000 votes in Districts like Galle and Matara was deprived of a single seat in those Districts ostensibly due to higher voter density while ITAK won 10 seats including 03 bonus seats from 4 Districts due to lower density of voters in the Northern and Eastern Districts.

To view in a different way, it required a minimum of 61,833 JJB voters in Gampaha District to occupy one seat in Parliament whereas SJB voters in Vanni District did it with a minimum of only 37,883 votes. Another striking feature is, UNP obtained only 01 seat (Thanks to the National list which was based on pure Proportionate arithmetic) while it got zero value for its 249,435 votes (5th highest) reckoned for the 196 District seats.

Thus, in the present context, the concept of ‘Bonus seats’ based on unequally populated 22 Districts which was intended to avoid an unstable Govt. can now be considered as irrelevant. Similarly, the safety valve of ‘Minimum 5% limit’ to discourage advent of many smaller contestants has become a cropper as can be seen from the unusual length of the Ballot paper.

Simple solution

The core objective of this expensive and laborious exercise is to elect 225 members for one National Parliament in the country and not for 22 District level entities. Therefore, the simple and most rational solution to rectify the aforesaid gross anomalies is, to apply pure and simple proportionate arithmetic to a ‘Single National Electorate’ to allocate the 196 seats and 29 ‘National list’ seats among seat winning Party symbols as illustrated in the Table below.

Thereby, all votes garnered by the main seat-winning parties will get the compulsory  equal face value of say 01 to each vote whether it is cast in the North, South, East or West.

It is seen from the Table that the JJB’s seat entitlement out of 225 is increased from the present 03 to 09, while that of ITAK is reduced from 10 to 07 seats. Similarly, the SLPP’s entitlement is reduced from the present 145 to 138 while that of SJB is increased from 54 to 55. The UNP gets value to its votes with an increase from 01 to 05 seats. AITC has the potential to retain its 2 seats, provided all other parties unanimously agree to confer the unallocated 01 National list seat. The OPOPP loses its National list seat but gains 01 out of 196 seats. All these changes reflect the fairest and accurate result after applying pure and simple proportional arithmetic to achieve the core objective.

Moreover, in our view, the winning Parties should be allowed to fill their proportionately distributed District seats from a ‘District Merit list’ of candidates introduced with the original PR system of 1978 or from a Central Pool as previously done by the JVP, after abolishing the abhorrent Preference Voting (PV) system which courted environment pollution, inter and intra rivalry/ thuggery among parties and extravagant expenditure in a battle to muster more preference votes.


Readers will recall that the writer has brought up the concept of ‘Single Electorate’, over the years through presentations and several Articles to the Press and letters to all concerned authorities many a time, to of no avail. On that premise, the writer further exhorts, (as brought up in repeated articles to the press) that PR Arithmetic should be applied to the ‘constitutionally specified’ number of Cabinet Ministers too, so that smaller parties like the JJB and TNA are also represented in the highest decision making body of the Country.

Let us face the hard facts and if we want to consider ourselves as ‘Sri Lankans’ irrespective of Race, Caste or Creed, we should strive for ‘Equal Status’ and not for ‘Preferred Status’ which decries ‘Modern Democratic’ principles.

Towards this end, we make an earnest appeal to our Academia and relevant Civil society Organisations like ‘Paffrel’, Caffe and CMEV actively supported by the media to force the appointment of a ‘Civilian Task force for Electoral Reforms’ under the National Elections Commission, comprising eminent retired judges and representatives of the aforesaid Civil Society Organisations bereft of politicians. They are only ‘Agents’ of the People who will have to operate within a framework of governance designed by the People as the ‘Principals’ in keeping with the ‘Law of Agency’.

We are confident that H.E The President and the New Govt. will facilitate this ‘Out -of-the Box’ shift under the much awaited ‘Electoral Reforms’, so that we could boast of a genuine ‘Permanent Peoples’ Govt.’ that can present itself as an inclusive, harmonious global model of modern Democracy.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 5

    The sad fact is that the SLPP was able to do many a jilmarttu by rigging the polls to their liking.
    So it’s now showtime for the mangy mongrel Rajapuka’s to fill their soiled dirty amudes with goodies, similar to what they did with the gold belonging to the poor Tamil people who have been at the receiving end ever since 1956.
    By one analysing the report card of the sordid Rajapuka’s from 2005 till 2015, it was all a one-way street which meant filling their amudes with a variety of goodies.
    The nearly 7 million imbeciles who wasted their sacred votes on these rogue nitwits should all be force-fed with Velu Anna’s very potent CYANIDE capsule, the ideal reward for their petty-minded raving raging stupidity whilst being seated on their tiny midget shitting to high heaven midget brains.
    In conclusion whilst the Rajapuka’s endeavour to become the world’s richest hora boru salli monies/gold/properties/etc the starving no money no job foolish aks who will around the corner begin a mass programme of dropping dead due to the famine, they have created for their good selves
    Who’s responsible for making Lanka the globe’s best beggar’s colony – it’s none other than the world-famous family undesirably known as the might less Rajapuk’s and their fellow all-round experts in all types of crimes cronies…
    The sooner one gets rid of these pariah pests it will be better for my motherland and the world.

    • 0

      Batticaloa Burgher or what to shoemake now appah? Almirah top got an’ have and gave the fellow a thundering slap. My God, Banda stole that no? Sovereign gold chain is putting or whatnot. English is also is teaching here.

  • 4

    I proposed (in CT too I think) at least 5 years ago a scheme of two-votes per voter like in Germany and several other countries.
    My suggestion was:
    One vote is for a party of one’s choice, so that people can vote for a party of their choice from any corner of the country, even if that party has minimal support there.
    (This may require some restrictions on registering parties. But that may prove unnecessary with electronic voting systems that will be more generous than paper ballot.)
    Seat allocation will be proportional t votes received.
    The second is for a candidate for an electorate. Seat allocation is as First Past the Post.
    This ensures commitment of an MP to his/her electorate.
    The two votes are independent. (I may choose Party X nationally and my local MP from Party Y, because he/she has a better performance record for community service in my electorate.

  • 1

    The author had made a timely welcome intervention. These suggestions should be taken into account when designing a new constitution for the country.

    A modified proportional system is practiced even now in Sri Lanka.

    The first past post system has its own defeats so is purely proportional system, that could lead to instability among other defects.

    It is now nationally agreed better system is a combined first past post system and a proportional system.

    Mixed member Proportional system MMP is used by Germany, Bolivia, Lesotho, and New Zealand.

    Each voter will have two votes, one for the political party and the other for the preferred candidate.

    . Sri Lanka could learn from countries that had practiced mixed system for years and design a design taking into account the rich diversity of the country.

    The preference system as presently practiced in Sri Lanka since the 14th amendment needs serious concern.

    Each voter is given three preferences and people confuse preferences with votes. If at all preferences is adopted only one preference is better, simply because it is not a single transferable vote.

    The electoral districts also should be redesigned so that each electoral district returns same number of members with almost the same number of voters.

  • 0

    Author may be an ardent supporter of one country one law system.

    This slogan is realistic if only the country is homogeneous in every respect. Treating a heterogeneous country as a homogeneous country is inviting disaster.

    The author is making serious deviation from his one country concept required to make the clarification on the following computation.

    If you allocate all members of parliament -196 members, considering the entire country as one single,

    Electorate what is the rationale for allocating the balance 29 seats on the same basis?

    Instead you could have allocated the entire 225 members by considering the entire country as a single electorate?
    auther failed to mention as to how the mebers are selected for the political party allocations?

    The Author may have different ideas, but we recommend celebrating diversity to have district based electorate and have MMP with two votes to each voter one vote for the party and the other vote to a preferred candidate.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 5 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.