Why the recent LG Act was a carelessly drafted one irresponsibly accepted by all political parties
The recent Act to provide 60% First-Past-Post and 40% Proportionate Representation at the Local Government Elections, was carelessly drafted and then irresponsibly accepted by all political parties.
What the method of calculation provided in it leads to is a 100% proportional allocation. All parties that contributed to the drafting and enactment of this charade should now be held accountable.
Seats in Pradeshiya Sabhas were increased, so as to provide the 40% ‘Proportional Representation’ – beyond the existing number of ‘Ward’ Constituencies.
In a Pradeshiya Sabha where, for instance, there previously were 24 Wards, 16 seats were additionally provided for the proportional component - giving it a total of 40 seats at this election.
The distribution of seats in such a Pradeshiya Sabha is quite simple if the intent was to allocate seats as stated.
Let’s say that in the Pradeshiya Sabha concerned, the victors in the 24 ‘electoral division seats’ (first-past-the-post) was as follows:
Party A gets the most votes in 14 divisions,
Party B in 6 and Party C in 4
Though the 24 ‘electoral division’ seats (d) are thus won, the total votes each party gets may not reflect this distribution at all. The ‘proportional’ component of 40% was introduced to reduce this injustice, at least partially.
Let’s say for instance that the total votes for the parties happened to be as follows:
Party A – 50% of the total votes for the entire Pradeshiya Sabha
Party B – 14% and
Party C – 36%.
Of the 16 ‘proportional’ seats to be allocated, party A with 50% would get 8 seats, while party B (with 14%) gets 2 seats and party C (with 36%) 6 seats. Seat allocations to the Sabhas were in fact increased to accommodate this extra 40% - and also allowed easy inclusion of the 25% female candidate quota.
The intended 60-40 split should give the following allocations if done correctly:
The method of calculation actually used in this election was quite a different one, leading nowhere. I have set out below the steps used by the Elections Commission Office, which amount to assigning the total ‘seats’ for each party on a 100% proportional basis for the total number of seats. Having determined the total seats on a proportional basis, the number of seats won ‘directly’ are deducted and the resulting figure is simply called the ‘proportional’ allocation for each party! This basis of calculation does not at all provide a proportional allocation of the 40% of seats meant to be so assigned.
The process used goes as follows.
The EC Office first works out, on a 100% proportional basis, total seat allocations:
Party A with 50% = 20
Party B with 14% = 06
Party C with 36% = 14
These numbers are then entered in the final seat allocation column.
The rest is a bit of jugglery to arrive at this pre-determined 100% proportional allocation. Instead of calculating the proportional allocation on the basis of the proportion of votes, the EC office proceeds by next inserting, in column (d), the seats directly won:
Now, the EC office magically arrives at a number called the ‘proportional’ seat allocation (p) by simply deducting the ‘direct’ seat number (d) from his already determined total (T)! So, the number of ‘proportional seats’ allocated is derived (p = T – d) through a fudge, to arrive at the pre-determined total, and not at all by calculating the proportional distribution of the 16 seats. The final result becomes:
Whoever laid out the steps given in the relevant act, for how seat allocations should be calculated, was either totally dumb or deliberately devious.
Either way, the room for allocating 25% of seats for females is removed.
(And, by the way, some of our gender rights activists may still prefer to make loud noises in the mass and social media – and even go to courts – to win the facile right for women to sell or buy alcohol, rather than on matters such as ensuring that the space to get at least 25% political representation was honestly provided. To make things worse, this alcohol ‘right’ was one that women did not even know they were denied until it was used as a red herring to divert attention from a reduction of beer taxes – a tactic that worked brilliantly for the relevant politicians and their alcohol trade masters.)
1. We, the public, have been deceived into believing that there has been a 60 – 40 seat allocation. The whole point of inordinately increasing the number of seats to allow this 60 – 40 mix is now meaningless and becomes pointless further burden, needlessly foisted on us. And we have, as usual, no way to hold to account the perpetrators of this hugely wasteful farce.
2. Nearly all parties that have won most of the seats directly contested (d) are denied their proper share of proportional seats (p).
3. Conveniently, the 25% female candidates can remain at home. Election returning officers did not reject any of the party lists on the basis that they did not have 25% female candidates in the ‘direct’ list, and allowed the parties to quietly relegate their ‘female quota’ to a supplementary list. This list now provides zero seats, in many instances, for the party with the highest number of first-past-the-post seats.
4. Further fudge is needed where the number of seats calculated on the present basis exceeds the total provided for the given Pradeshiya Sabha. All political parties must now quietly collude with the EC Office to cover up the mess.