There is no doubt that the Proportional Representation (PR) for Parliamentary Elections in Sri Lanka has unfortunately resulted in an inevitable struggle for preferential votes, and in-fighting among candidates of the same party (intra-party rivalry), which has on many occasions led to criminal violence and even murder. Another negative feature is that a single political party has often found it difficult to obtain a stable majority, thereby leading to alliances, which have resulted in large Cabinets.
A significant feature of the electoral system that is being proposed is that it eliminates preferential votes, which has been the bane of electioneering, and it would promote a more balanced representation of the voice of the people. This proposal would also reduce the occurrence of landslide victories or of a hung Parliament.
According to the 100 day programme of the Government of President Maithripala Sirisena, “an all party committee will be set up to put forward proposals to replace the current Preference Vote System and replace it with a Mixed Electoral System that ensures representation of individual Members of Parliamentary Constituencies with mechanisms for proportionality. ”
The Dinesh Gunawardena Committee on Electoral Reforms had earlier (2007) made observations and recommendations, which though worthy of consideration with suitable modifications, had unfortunately been shelved. They are as follows :
a. A mixed system, a hybrid of the first past the post system and the proportional system as the most suitable electoral system for Parliamentary Elections.
b. Such a system should ensure the establishment of a stable Government and a strong Opposition, equitable representation to numerically minority parties and communities, closer nexus between voters and their elected representatives and the democratic representation of the people’s mandate.
c. The proposed system of elections should give weight to the elimination or minimizing violence, undue expenditure at elections and misappropriation of state resources at the time of elections
d. The system proposed should further be easy to comprehend and relatively easy to administer. Preferential voting system should be eliminated completely.
Internet: Representative Democracy & Electoral Reforms in Sri Lanka -- Research Department - One Text Initiative [For information, on electoral systems in Germany, France, Japan, etc, refer internet: Electoral Reforms Sri Lanka]
PROPOSAL: This proposal is being submitted for the consideration and critical comments of the policy makers and the general public, in a simplified and summarised form. It is reckoned to be practical, workable, and viable; furthermore, it could be implemented without delay. It is recommended that the total number of MPs be maintained at the existing number - namely 225, consisting of four categories: Elected, Selected, Nominated, and 5 Bonus seats, as explained below. 1 Elected MPs: There shall be 160 elected MPs, one being elected to each of the existing 160 electorates – not several for one district, as at present. If this number is altered, it would necessitate a Delimitation Commission, which would have to take inevitable decisions of controversial views such as minority representation, etc.; its function is not merely carving out electorates on the basis of population. Why stir up a hornet’s nest - unnecessary political problems - at a time when national unity is the prime concern?
These 160 MPs would be elected on the First Past the Post System (FPP). For this purpose one political party would obviously nominate only one candidate(for each electorate). If that candidate wins, it goes without saying that he/she gets into the list of Elected Members. If the candidate loses, but however qualifies to be the Second Past the Post (SPP), he/she would be placed in a list for selecting MPs on the National PR system (Selected Members), as explained below in section 2.
1.1 The balance number of 65 seats would be allocated as follows: 40 Selected , 20 Nominated, 5 Bonus – the respective suggested numbers may be changed .
2. Selected MPs: The noteworthy feature of this proposal is that it eliminates preferential votes, while preserving proportional representation at a national level.
2.1 Those candidates who come second in the electoral contest - Second Past the Post (SPP) - would be placed on a national list, and chosen on the ranking of an “ACCEPTABILITY SCORE” (ACS), which is deemed to be a fair measure of the degree of acceptability, recognition, and stature as a Parliamentarian, based on a form of indirect country-wide PR. The ACS is calculated as shown below:
Number of votes received ACS=x100
Total number of registered voters in the electorate
3. Nominated MPs. The 20 Nominated MPs.(section 1.1 ) would be in proportion to the total number of votes collected by a party, from all the electorates in the country; i.e. Parliamentary representation for the whole country, based on PR.
It is suggested that only those (from a list previously announced) with expertise / eminence, or representatives of groups such as minorities, should be included in this list ; not defeated candidates.
4. Bonus Seats. Recommend 5 seats to the party that commands a majority. This is a proposal to strengthen and promote stability of governance without the need to resort to fragile alliances and unnecessary compromises.