31 March, 2020

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The Need For Electoral Reform

By Rajiva Wijesinha

Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha MP

Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha MP

I am not sure why such a meal is being made about Electoral Reform. The pledge in the Presidential Manifesto was quite clear, viz

Another serious problem that our Sri Lanka Freedom Party led government failed to address during the last twenty years is the change of the electoral system. The existing electoral system is a mainspring of corruption and violence. Candidates have to spend a colossal sum of money due to the preferential system. I will change this completely. I guarantee the abolition of the preferential system and will ensure that every electorate will have a Member of Parliament of its own. The new electoral system will be a combination of the first-past-the post system and the proportional representation of defeated candidates. Since the total composition of Parliament would not change by this proposal, I would be able to get the agreement of all political parties represented in Parliament for the change. Further, wastage and clashes could be minimised since electoral campaigns would be limited to single electorates.

I find it totally unacceptable therefore, particularly given the reasons italicised above, that the draft of proposed constitutional changes has no reference to electoral reforms. It is reported that there are worries amongst the smaller parties that they will be left out if constituencies are introduced, and this will certainly happen if votes have just the one vote. Most people will vote for the candidate likely to win of the main candidates, and even if they have a high regard for a small party, they will not waste their vote.

That is why the German system allows two votes, and that is the only system that will ensure that ‘the total composition of Parliament would not change by this proposal’. I therefore this morning drafted the necessary Constitutional Amendment, and will propose it to Parliament as soon as possible. I understand of course that my colleagues may wish to amend this, but I hope it will be recognized all round that this is the basic principle that we should follow.

The Elections Commissioner has noted that Delimitation will not be a long process, and I have no doubt that, with his expert support, a Delimitation Commission will be able to do its job within three months. But just in case there is insistence on holding the election before it does its job, I have suggested some transitional provisions too.

The following amendment then is put forward for further discussion, and also to familiarize those interested with a system that will fulfil the commitment in both the short and the long manifestos on which we won the election.

Delete Sections 95 to 99 of the Constitution and replace with

95 (i) Within one week of Sections 95 following being amended, the President shall establish a Delimitation Commission ….(as in current 95). The Commission shall be required to present its Report within three months of its being appointed.

(Current 95 (2) to remain)

96 (1) The Delimitation Commission shall divide Sri Lanka into 100 constituencies so that the population of Sri Lanka shall be divided equitably between those 100 constituencies, with the variation between the constituency having the largest number of voters and that having the smallest number not exceeding 10%.

(Clauses (5) and (6) of the current Constitution shall remain as (2) and (3)

97. The President shall by Proclamation publish the names and boundaries of the constituencies, which shall be the basis of elections to Parliament at the next ensuing General Election.

98. (1) At General Elections, each voter shall be entitled to cast two separate votes. One shall be for an individual, chosen from amongst those nominated for the constituency in which such voter is entitled to vote. The second shall be for a political party, from a list of those registered political parties that are contesting that election. Political parties will be deemed to be contesting the election if they have nominated candidates for at least 5 constituencies.

In addition to candidates nominated for constituencies, each Party contesting the election shall be entitled to nominate on a National List 5 candidates who are distinguished for service in any two of the following areas – Administration, Business Enterprises, Cultural Activities, Education, Social Service. Each Party, in presenting its National List to the Elections Commissioner shall indicate the qualifications of each candidate on that list.

(2) Each constituency will return as the first representative of that constituency the individual who received the most votes cast within that constituency.

(3) One hundred more members will be returned to Parliament on the basis of the second party vote, such that the final composition of Parliament shall reflect proportionately the votes cast for each such Party.

(4) After the number of seats each Party is entitled to on the Party Vote is communicated to each Party, it shall nominate upto half the number of seats it is entitled to from the National List, to the maximum of 5. The remaining vacancies shall be filled by those candidates contesting individual constituencies on behalf of the Party who received the highest percentage of votes in the individual vote.

99. (1) Current 99 (13) (a) save that the section from ‘Or independent group’ to ‘Parliament’ should be deleted.

(b) Where the seat of a Member of Parliament elected on the individual vote to a constituency becomes vacant, a bye-election shall be held for that constituency, with each voter being entitled to one individual vote.

© Where the seat of a Member of Parliament elected by means of the Party Vote becomes vacant, the political party to which such member belonged shall be entitled to fill that seat, either through nomination of a candidate on its National List, or through the next candidate of those who contested individual constituencies on behalf of the Party who received the highest percentage of votes in the individual vote.

Renumber Clause 104 as 104 (1) and add

104 (2) If the Proclamation under 97 shall not have been made at the time of the next General Election, the Elections Commissioner shall hold such election on the system described above, subject to the proviso that, instead of the 100 constituencies envisaged, he shall determine between 100 and 120 constituencies on the basis of the electoral registers currently in use in the several constituencies into which each Electoral District has now been divided.

He shall combine constituencies in consultation with the Delimitation Commission appointed by the President, such that constituencies with fewer than 80,000 registered voters shall be combined with similar neighbouring constituencies.

Any constituency with more than 200,000 registered voters shall return the two members who received the highest number of individual votes at the election held under these transitional provisions.

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Latest comments

  • 9
    2

    Aren’t you an utter waste of time, Rajiva ?

    Do you really think any one will vote you in at the next general elections ? Are you expecting to get in through the national list ?

    What have you done so far at the Ministry even as a State Minister ? Nothing. You were just waiting for an opportunity to demand for a Cabinet position. You belong to the Medamukana regime !

    • 1
      0

      Agree with you, Politics too far away from this learned gent. He should be wasting his time writing. To do politics one should have experience,please do not whinge, get out of politics ASAP without creating trouble.

  • 11
    2

    Please quit before you get kicked out prop. Leave the countries problems to the countrymen. You are an ‘Alien’ from god knows where.

  • 1
    1

    I think this proposal is good. But you have to consider current electoral districts. If electoral districts were not considered, voters in Anuradapura electoral district may have to vote for a candidate in Vanni electoral district and vise-a-versa. So dividing whole Sri Lanka into 100 constituencies should be done according to the proportions of registered voters in each electoral district.
    For example, if you consider the number of registered voters in the 2015 presidential election, we will see following distribution in each electoral district. I included previous polling divisions in curly brackets for your reference.

    Districts Const. (1st vote) Prop. Alloc. (2nd vote) Dist. total

    Colombo: 10 {15} 10 20
    Gampaha: 11 {13} 11 22
    Kaluthara: 6 {8} 6 12
    Mahanuwara: 7 {13} 7 14
    Matale: 3 {4} 3 6
    Nuwara Eliya: 4 {4} 4 8
    Galle: 5 {10} 5 10
    Matara: 4 {7} 4 8
    Hambantota: 4 {4} 4 8
    Jaffna: 3 {11} 3 6
    Vanni: 2 {3} 2 4
    Batticaloa: 2 {3} 2 4
    Digamadulla: 3 {4} 3 6
    Trincomalee: 2 {3} 2 4
    Kurunegala: 9 {14} 9 18
    Puttalum: 4 {5} 4 8
    Anuradhapura: 4 {7} 4 8
    Polonnaruwa: 2 {3} 2 4
    Badulla: 4 {9} 4 8
    Monaragala: 2 {3} 2 4
    Ratnapura: 5 {8} 5 10
    Kegalle: 4 {9} 4 8

    Total 100 {160} 100 200

    The second shall be for a political party, from a list of those registered political parties that are contesting for a given constituency. This eliminates bogus political parties that are only asking for 2nd vote without contesting any constituencies. Also single ballot paper with two columns can be used in the election.

    • 3
      1

      Another ‘Alien’ from outer space?
      A simple theory for Rajiv and yourself, Janaka, from an average, normal human being from planet ‘Earth’.
      “Wisdom does not come from studying great theories or philosophies, but observing the ordinary”…….’Majjima Patipada’
      Metta!

  • 3
    1

    Prof. Rajiva,

    Why should minor political parties be provided an opportunity to be represented in parliament? Is is not more important to create two member constituencies to provide representation in parliament to sizeable minorities in some areas of the country such as various electorates in Colombo, Beruwala-Aluthgama, Nuwara-Eliya, Vavuniya, some areas in the East, Etc. Such an arrangements would create a more representative parliament .

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

    • 5
      3

      lets not go on the ethnic path in future.The less we high light ethnicity and the more we build up srilankan identity the better for all of us.

      • 0
        0

        Shankar,
        Why view it as as an ethnic oath, instead of as a way of providing a voice/representation for sizeable minorities scattered over the island.p? We had two member electorates in the past. The Colombo South electorate with a sizeable Tamil population voted to elect men like Dr. Colvin R. de Silva and Bernard Soysa. S. Thondaman and Gamini Dissanaike were elected similarly from Nuwara-Eliya.

        Minor parties when represented by one or two members through the preferential vote system, box above their weight taking extreme positions and men like MR use them unscrupulously . Wimal Weerawanse is one prime example.

        Dr.RN

        • 0
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          Dr.Narendran

          I’am not saying that your proposal is not useful for minorities in the short term,it is just that i’am sick of constantly focusing on ethnicities.One thing we should have learnt from all this that happened after we got independence is that highlighting ethnicities and religion may bring some short term benefits to ethnic groups but in the long term it is disastrous for everyone.

          SWRD started the ball rolling for the sinhala bhuddhists,but are the sinhala bhuddhists better off than at that time.Amirthalingam started the ball rolling for the tamils when the TULF did not do well at the elections,by highlighting ethnicity and subsequently TULF won handsomely,however are the tamils better off now than at that time.Ashraff also started it for the muslims but are the muslims better off for it now.this country has stagnated since independence while countries that were far behind us at that time took off and are now far ahead of us.

          So we have to start thinking differently now.Einstein’s famous quote was that the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result.

          We have to now stop highlighting ethnicities and now go on the path of building a srilankan identity.This identity should be the no 1 to identify yourself with.You should be able to proudly say that you are a srilankan regardless whether you are tamil,muslim or sinhalese.Now it is the other way about where everyone first think of them selves as sinhalese,tamil or muslim.

          When i was in school we were segregated into tamil,sinhalese and english mediums.Only the muslims and borahs and burghers were allowed to study in the english medium.What a foolish thing it is to segregate like that and in early childhood itself highlight ethnicity to children.Even afeter this mess i won’t be surprised if the stubborn srilankans are still doing this.maybe insanity is a part of our DNA.Every srilankan must be a little insane.

          I would like us to adopt policies that would give us sustainable benefits in the long term rather than short term fixes such as the one that you propose.That is why I’am vehemently opposed to the changing of the current proportional representation system to a mix of proportional and first past the post because the minority voting power will get diluted as a result.Also the first past the post system helps politicians to grab power that they do not deserve.When sirima won in 1970 i think the UNP only had 10 to 12 seats when they actually got about 40 % of the votes.No wonder sirima went to town even extending her term by two years.Junius richard jayawardena also though he was julius ceaser when the reverse happened in 1977.

          So the proportional representation system should be continued as a check and balance to curb politicians powers and maintain minorities influence in the results of the election.If first past the post system was used at the last presidential elections,could the minorities have shown that they represent 25% of this country.

          However I agree with rajiva that the preferential voting system for the candidates should be done away with.It serves no purpose for us to know that so and so got the highest preferential votes or whatever.The costs far out weigh any benefits received for knowing that and unnecessary wasteful expenditure and rivalry.

          so Dr.narendran,let us look for long term solutions to our problems because you and i are merely a blip in history of srilanka and long after we are gone the country will still go on.

    • 2
      1

      The argument for the small parties to be represented are as follows:

      – if we do not have representation or a voice it may lead to a this small groups taking up other means to achieve their objectives.

      – Main parties will canvass for the voted of the interest groups who are numerically small and get elected but conveniently forget them after the elections. They have done in the past. This may be the JHU JVP, SLMC etc

  • 1
    1

    Why don’t we concentrate on the quality of representation,more than quantity.How about saying that you have to pass the GCE ord level.Then about 50% of current parliament is out.Then we say you have to pass the GCE advanced level too.Then another 25% is out.Then we have to say that you have to pass all 8 subjects in ord level and all 4 subjects at adv level.Then another 10& out.Then we say also must get 5 credits at ord level out of the 8 passes and 2 credits at the A level out of the 4 passes.Then another 10 % out.now what to do for the balance 5%?gota’s leadership training course until 3% die of heart attacks.

    Under no circumstances should we send the following into parliament again.With all this national dresses etc the tail can be hidden.

    http://lh5.ggpht.com/_9F9_RUESS2E/S558O51_WOI/AAAAAAAACfw/3LfZAR9JvDs/s800/origin-human-evolution_10.jpg

    our honourable so and so in the next one is better but still i prefer we don”t send him again into our parliament

    http://lh5.ggpht.com/_9F9_RUESS2E/S558PN2G9fI/AAAAAAAACf0/W-Sc6ihGCcw/s800/origin-human-evolution_11.jpg

    we must strive to send this chap only to parliament in the future.

    http://lh5.ggpht.com/_9F9_RUESS2E/S558TpUIpQI/AAAAAAAACf4/r4uBNgwcz-A/s800/origin-human-evolution_12.jpg

    hey rajiva does your german system you propose guarantee us that in future we send the last one and not the preceding two earlier into parliament?germany may not have that problem as they may be higher in the evolutionary ladder than us.What if we give 2 votes instead of one as you propose and our voter still votes two of the first two instead of the third because he feels more emphathy and affinity with them.

    • 0
      2

      Education is important but should it be the criteria. Please think of DS Senanayaka,

      Apart from the politicians, our qualified bureaucrats has not done that great, Cabraal is a case in point. Then even public servants hasn’t fared well as administrators.

      The present Finance Minister’s speeches are terrible. How did he deal with the mansion tax. He behaved worse than an uneducated fool, His talk about newly rich and mansions were disgusting.

  • 3
    0

    If the Members of Parliament are to propertly represent their constituent members, Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha has the right idea. Recently in UK they carried out a referendum to choose a First-past-the-post or a proportional representation system and the public overwhelmingly voted quite rightly for the First-past-the-post system. However the Members for the European Parliament in UK are elected on a proportional representation system, equally rightly, as the constituencies are large. The present system in Sri Lanka is open to abuse and encourages cronyism that has led to many of our ills.

  • 4
    0

    Rajiva, you say “our SLFP Party”? How come, have you resigned from Liberal Party or have you folded Liberal Party into SLFP?

    A clause should be added to ensure that all races, religions and languages have equal rights under the constitution. No special privileges to any one particular group.

  • 4
    1

    Saw in an interview that you were disappointed at not being appointed a cabinet minister but only a state minster !

    A party such as yours, one that cannot even win one seat on your own ?

    Without being grateful for the cabinet ministership complaining. Get to work. You have only 2 months left !
    What have you achieved as minister/MP over the past 5 years ? I can’t think of any !

  • 1
    0

    dear rajiva

    the following link should make it more clearer about what i want from your electoral system reforms.looking at the pictures from left to right we have been sending into Parliament so far about 50% OF NO 4 and 40% of no 5 and only 10 % of no 6.We should be in future sending 90% of no 6 into parliamnt after a thorough vetting process.There lies the root cause of the problem which your proposed electoral reforms is not going to solve because these are the people’s representatives and they represent the people quite well.Travelling through srilanka especially in the rural hinterlands you can see quite a lot who look like 4 and 5.Also lion claw sinhabahu who we proudly have on our flag may have been one of the few remaining neanderthals in asia(picture of one given here) before they all got assimilated with homo sapiens.

    http://www.planet-science.com/categories/over-11s/natural-world/2012/03/how-did-we-become-human.aspx

    Ps.rajiva don’t forget the electoral reforms for the pradesha sabhas where we have been sending mostly no 1 in the diagram, with even foreign tourists being raped and killed by them.I know that we srilankans are a animal loving race,but don’t you think sending them into the sabhas is showing love a bit too much.

  • 6
    1

    I just read the interview of Rajiva published in Ceylon Today. From the interview what is clear is that he has an “attitude” issue. Rajiva always thought, like his good friend Dayan, that they are some big wigs and only they know what is good for the country and the people of the country. In fact from the interview we gather that he has a big “EGO”. He must be thankful that at least he got this position. What voter base has he got, how many votes did he ever get in an election? He was sucking up to Rajapakse and when he knew that the boat was going to sink he jumped ship. He is not a honorable person. Even in this article he is calling himself SLFP when he is in fact arguing in his interview Ceylon Today he argues that he should be given a cabinet position because he is the leader of a smaller party (Liberal Party). Hello Rajiva which party do you belong to? Ranil can give Cabinet positions to MPs’ who can stand in elections and win, not “pinata seat” guys.

    • 1
      0

      Hi Rajiva

      Your are useless, This is the end of your “political life”. ou go on giving deadline for resigning, why don’t you resign. No one will be bothered. You think too much of your self. You wont be able to win even few votes. You are trying to protect UGC chair, If you do not know what destruction she did for the University of Colombo go and ask the teachers there.

      Ceylon Today interview shows to what is in you, You only have a big Ego, no proven track record. You are not even an elected MP. You should worship Ranil for the state minister post. You will be a non entity at the end of 100 days. try and get around Ranil and get a national list slot, that is the best option left for your survival. Grow up buddy !!!!

  • 2
    1

    What a disgrace to my name. He doesn’t deserve a parliamentary seat. He got it because of his late father Sam Wijesinghe who was a respected parliamentary veteran. What a disgrace the son is. He is not fit even to be a receptionist in parliament. This is the problem with the national list or chit MPs. They are just stooges of the government. He is disgracing the late chanaka and Asith who led the liberal party. Even though all of them belong to the same boat, Asitha has left twins to carry on.

  • 0
    0

    Divide Sri Lanka into five districts grant each district federal system of administration. The current electoral districts could elect a representative to represent in parliament whose functions should be limited to Finance, defence and Immigration. Doesn’t it appear to be a good form of administration and the people to share it.

  • 4
    0

    I just read that Rajiva’s good friend Dayan Jayatileke was on the platform with Wimal Weerawansa asking for Rajapakse to contest. Well may be Rajiva wants to join his friend. If so its GROBR.

  • 3
    0

    YOU are ONLY a State minister and NOT a cabinet Minister so u r supposed to REPOSRT to a cabinet minister, U cant have EVERYTHING the way u want…, first reform yourself… When that woman has defaulted and also had acted on a letter sent by Namal without following protocol and ethics, YOU defend her and try to cover for her.

    What relationship do U have with her other than academia? Seems more than what the eyes see…

  • 1
    0

    My opinion on Constitutional Reform should be as follows:

    1. Only those who win, either affiliated to various parties or those who contest independently should be given a seat in the Parliament. No freebies.

    2. Every religion Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam and every community Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims and Burghers should be given a seat in the Parliament and they should be nominated by a vote in the Parliament by all elected members or the President/Prime Minister should appoint these persons. One person from these two groups should be nominated by them and should hold a cabinet position “Ministry of Peace and Harmony”. If this is not possible a seat should be given to one person from this group, selected as mentioned, in the executive council.

    3. No free seats for parties that do not get elected. Since an independent does not get a seat if not elected why should a small party get a free seat?

    4. Every Secretary, top ministry officials and government and semi-government chair persons, Ambassadors and their deputies, heads of Army, Navy, Airforce, Police and other security agencies should be appointed by the Cabinet but confirmation to the post should be after an all party approval process.

    5. National Anthem can be sung in any of the three languages. There is no point in singing the National Anthem if one does not understand what it means.

    6. Every religion and race should have equal status in the Constitution.

    7. If one MP changes the party he or she should not have a seat but an election should be called for that electorate.

    8. Constitution should prohibit outright selling of land to foreign governments. However, suitable provisions should be available for companies doing business in SL and foreigners and SL origin diaspora should be able to own land for residential purposes. I expect SL to be a magnet for retired diaspora when peace and rule of law is restored back in the country. This will bring foreign currency into the country.

    9. President (during the term of Maithripala) and Prime Minister there after should be able to call for a National Government. In case of a National Government- Cabinet posts should be selected by Prime Minister for five major ministries (Finance, Justice, Policy PLanning and Economic Affairs, Public Administration and Order, Infrastructure Development); all other ministries should be on a pro-rate basis from the National Government participating parties based on the votes they obtain.

    10. Independent commissions should be appointed for Bribery and Corruption, Police, Judiciary, Presidential Inquiries, Minority Issues.

  • 1
    0

    Rajiva, both your and Dj’s problem is that you both are megalomaniacs who think the rest of the people in the world are beneath you in intelligence and you two are the only people who knows what is best for the country. Your privileged PhD’s you got mostly thanks to your fathers who had connections. Yes, it looks like our friends Rajiva wants to pull a DJ. I wouldn’t be surprised if he would get up on the next bring back mahinda campaign just like DJ. It is a shame that he stands for corrupt UGC chairman and reinstated her in the job. When her misgoverings were public records. I think the academics should start a protest to remove Rajiva from his post for giving cover to corrupted. He should be glad that he has this post because, he is not in the parliament on his own merit. If he had contested in the elections, and got elected yes, he shoul have gotten a cabinet ministerial post. If this guy is put in as the cabinet minister for higher education, SB will start to look good in efficiency and decision making. Because for Rajiva, DJ and all the black sheep prof’s will start to make decisions for the rest of the country. He shouldn’t be given any post after the election.

  • 0
    0

    “What relationship do U have with her other than academia? Seems more than what the eyes see… “

    er,are you implying that they have a sexual relationship?How crude.

    Obviously you are not an intellectual and cannot understand these two intellectuals.First of all get into your thick sex flooded skull that a intellectual is a person who has discovered something more interesting than sex.look at GL pieris for example,is he only thinking of sex like the other parliamentarians ogling at rosy senenayaka.

    obviously with these two intellectuals you refer to there has been a meeting of the minds and a relationship formed due to that,not the vulgar sexual relationship that you are inferring to.Sexual relationships are based on physical attractions,whereas with rajiva and this lady it is intellectual discussions which engage the mind most deeply,searching for truths and are very rational in nature.They are making love to each others minds.When she shows him her mind he gets aroused and wants to show her his too,not like the crude minds who think of only the chest under the shirt and her thang under her skirt.

    So i hope i have given you sufficient understanding of an intellectual to show you that you are going completely in the wrong direction here.

  • 0
    0

    Very sensible article by Rajiva although it may have to be explained further with example of the 2010 general election results and the 2001 general elections to see what the composition of the House will be like. I think another area that must be considered seriously is the introduction of the electronic voting system, so that ballot stuffing etc can be eliminated or reduced.

  • 0
    0

    It is not healthy when comments like Shankar’s are permitted – People look at comments for greater understanding of the important point raised. Comments like Shankar’s demean the journal.
    The editor should delete comments coming from a perverted mind.

  • 0
    0

    When comments like Shankar’s are permitted, it reduces the attention of the reader who has little time to spare. – People look at comments for greater understanding of the important point raised. Comments like Shankar’s demean the journal.
    The editor should delete comments coming from a perverted mind.

    • 0
      0

      Pushpan

      i welcome your criticism and take it on board for my future comments.I was replying to snowden explaining nothing was taking place between the two parties concerned except maybe intellectual discussion. However i must also say that you are as bad as the rajapakshes who wanted to censor everything that was not to their liking.As a result when it came to freedom of the media srilanka was ranked 162 under that regime.

      i wonder whether if you could find me i would also suffer the same fate as Richard De soyza or get beaten up by you in a white van.

      I believe you are at the fringe of being intolerant to the extent that you may be entering into the realm of dictatorial tendencies.So just as i have used your comments to try to get rid of my ‘perverted’ mind i hope you too will use mine to rid yourself of intolerance and authoritarianism.Your family,friends,workmates and acquaintances will all benefit in the future if you do so and you will become likable.

      As for the time factor and distraction you mention,nobody is forcing you to read my comments.When you see shankar just move on to the next.

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