Colombo District MP Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe has worked a private member’s bill which, if enacted into law, will make it mandatory for political parties to get at least 12.5 percent of votes from a particular electoral district at general elections to secure parliamentary seats.
Currently, a political party becomes eligible to get parliamentary seats if it polls more than five percent of votes at a respective district.
Article 99 of the Constitution says, “Every recognized political party and independent group polling less than one twentieth of the total votes polled at any election in any electoral district shall be disqualified from having any candidates of such party or group being elected for that electoral district.
Mr. Rajapakshe, who supported President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the last presidential elections despite being an MP of the United National Party (UNP) , said the current law was introduced in 1988 by then President the late R. Premadasa to appease Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) leader M.H.M. Ashraff.
“Before that, the 12.5 percent cut-off point was mandatory. I am seeking to re-introduce it,” he said.
The bill has already been announced in the gazette to be introduced as the 21th Amendment to the Constitution. It can be presented by him in Parliament after two weeks.
He said the five-percent cutoff point made way for the emergence of racially biased political parties in the country. “It sowed seeds of extremism in the country,” he said. (Kelum Bandara)