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Should we wait for electoral reforms or dissolve Parliament now-EDITORIAL

12 May 2015 05:11 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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The United National Party (UNP) and almost all minor and minority political parties seem to be in a hurry to dissolve the Parliament and face a general election. Mahajana Eksath Peramuna (MEP) leader Dinesh Gunawardene and the National Freedom Front (NFF) Leader Wimal Weerawansa had on more than on one occasion demanded that the President should dissolve Parliament, while the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) too has said that the incumbent government has surpassed its mandate. These parties are making these overtures while a process to reform the electoral system before the dissolution of the Parliament is underway.

It is not too difficult to understand their motive. They prefer the current Proportional Representation (PR) System rather than the proposed mixed system that incorporates both the PR and First-Past-the-Post (FPP) systems. The smaller parties fear that under the FPP their chances for survival will be minimal if not at all because their vote base in many electorates is not worth speaking about whereas on a district basis under the PR system these smaller parties would stand a better chance if at all. The UNP, though one of the two biggest parties in the country, also seems to be in favour of the current system for some reason and is  not so enthusiastic about the electoral reforms.

It is true that the mandate given by the people to the government headed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe at the last presidential election has expired with the lapse of its first 100 days. At the same time the mandate had also rejected the SLFP/UPFA combination as the ruling party. Hence the situation demands a new Parliament. On the other hand the present Parliament is an utter mess where the largest party is in the Opposition and the leader of a relatively smaller party has been appointed the Prime Minister. Also ironically the leader of the largest party who is also the President of the country works with the second largest party. This cannot be democracy and therefore it is high time to go for a parliamentary election and elect a new government.

However, now that the 19th Amendment to the Constitution has been passed in Parliament the forthcoming elections have to be conducted by an Election Commission which has to be appointed with the consent of both the President and the Constitutional Council (CC) which is also yet to be appointed. Given the intricacy of the process one cannot expect an immediate dissolution of Parliament, because it has to play a major role in appointing the CC which would consist of seven parliamentarians including the Speaker, Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader. Given the experience of the last CC that was abolished by the Rajapaksa regime through the 18th Amendment one has to expect many hurdles in the appointment process of the CC and the independent commissions which would hence be time consuming.

Therefore it is unfair by the people to suggest to the authorities concerned to rush through the process to dissolve the Parliament, since such a manoeuvrewould force the stakeholders to make hasty appointments to the CC as well as the independent commissions including the Elections Commission which might in turn negate the achievements gained through the 19th Amendment.

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