Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 27 September 2015





Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

Electoral reforms:

Choking on the ward system

Parliament passed the Local Authorities Elections (Amendment) Act No 22 of 2012, in October 2012 with the objective of addressing issues concerning the present electoral system, which is usually marred by violence due to the existing Proportional Representation system or popularly known as manape system to elect representatives to Local Government bodies.

Therefore, the enactment of the Local Authorities Elections (Amendment) Act was considered a step towards bringing the much needed electoral reforms mainly to elected politicians who would be accountable to their constituents.

The long awaited electoral reforms to the Local Government election was a result of the formation of the Parliament Select Committee on Electoral Reforms, comprising 32 Members in 2006. It was in June 2007, the Parliament Select Committee handed over their recommendations to bring sweeping reforms in the electoral system in the country.

Introduction of a mixed system of the First Past the Post and Proportional Representation in the Local Authorities elections was among the recommendations of the committee and Local Authorities Elections (Amendment) Act was resulted based on those recommendations.

The Act reintroduces the ward system, whereby a Local Authority is divided into a number of electoral units. Each ward elects one member, unless in the case of a multi-member ward.

The election of the members to the Local Bodies has to be done through a mixed system of First Past the Post system and the Proportionate system.

According to this new system 70 percent of the members would be elected under first past the post system while another 30 percent members to be elected under the proportionate system based on the lists forwarded by the political parties.

After the Bill was passed in 2012, the Provincial Councils and Local Government Ministry, in 2013, took steps to form the National Delimitation Committee on Local Government Bodies for the task of demarcating wards in each Local Authority area and after long and arduous process the National Delimitation Committee handed over its report to former Public Administration Minister Karu Jayasuriya in May 2015.

LG polls

Though the Local Government election was scheduled to be after March 2015, the Government extended the terms of those Local Bodies with the aim of conducting the elections for all 335 Local Bodies on a single date under the new system.

However, as the country is preparing to try out this system at the next local polls, now there is a doubtful situation about conducting the next election under this new system as political parties expressing diverse opinion on the conduct of the election under this new system.

First it was the UNP, the strongest party in the consensus government, that decided not to conduct the election under the new electoral system but under the proportionate representation system.

According to Deputy General Secretary of the UNP Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, the main argument of the UNP is that the demarcation of the wards system has been done to favour one political party and the wards system has to be re-reviewed if the Local Authorities elections are to be conducted under the new system.

However, President Maitripala Sirisena has made it clear that Local Government election should be conducted in accordance with the Amended Local Authorities Elections Act, to elect members to the Councils through a combination of the First Past the Post system and the Proportionate Representation System.

Local Government and Provincial Councils Minister Faizer Musthapha addressing the media at the SLFP headquarters said the SLFP’s stance is to conduct the Local Government Elections under the new system giving people an opportunity to elect a responsible representative from their division.

The Minister, however said a Cabinet Sub Committee has been appointed to look into the issues regarding the implementation of the new electoral system at the next local polls to be conducted in March next year.

However, the final decision on the issue is to be taken after the discussion between the President and the Prime Minister on the recommendation of the Cabinet Sub Committee.

Although the implementation of the new Local Authority electoral system is debated in the political front the final touches to the demarcation of the ward system is yet to be done for the implementation of the new electoral system.

The National Delimitation Committee on Local Government councils has proposed the number of members to be elected under a ward-based system to be increased to 5,081, an increased of 595 members.

Demarcation of wards

Under the new system, LG members will be elected under the First-Past-the Post system (FPP) to 4,573 wards, while two members each will be selected to 241 wards. There will also be nine wards where three members each will be elected.

H.T. Kamal Pathmasiri, Secretary to the Local Government and Provincial Councils told the Sunday Observer that the gazette notification on the proposed ward system has already been signed by the President and will be sent to the Government Printer this week.

Commenting on the concerns raised by political parties that the demarcation of wards had been done in favor of one political party he said political parties will be given a chance to raise objections and make suggestions.

“Once the gazette on the National De-limitation Report on Local Government is issued the political parties will be given a chance to file their objections and suggestions on the demarcated wards. That opportunity will be given to the civil society organizations too”, the Secretary said.

He said a Ministerial Sub Committee has been appointed to look into the matter and the Ministerial Sub Committee consist of the Ministers Kabir Hashim, Susil Premajayantha, Duminda Dissanayake and Faizer Musthapa will meet on September 29 to discuss the issues relating to the electoral system to decide on the election method.

He said some amendments to the Act has to be made for the proper implementation of the new electoral system and those amendments are now with the Legal Draftsman’s Department.

Rohana Hettiarachchi, Executive Director of the election monitoring body PAFFREL said that they are very much in favour of conducting the Local Government election under the new system despite certain technical shortcomingss when it comes to the implementation process.

He also agreed that the demarcation of wards were done in favour of one political party during the previous regime adding that though political parties were given opportunities to make their suggestions and proposals that was not adequate.

“But that should not be an excuse not to implement the system as it was the will of the people to get rid of t he electoral race and introduce a system where people can elect their own representatives.

Therefore, political parties should not take decisions only for their advantage but should consider the welfare of the country,” he added.


Daily News & Sunday Observer subscriptions
eMobile Adz

| News | Editorial | Finance | Features | Political | Security | Sports | Spectrum | World | Obituaries | Junior |


Produced by Lake House Copyright © 2015 The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd.

Comments and suggestions to : Web Editor