ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, January 21, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 34

Electoral reforms running into red light

By Shelani Perera

UNP Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe is to meet members of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Electoral Reforms next week to iron out problems following the UNP disagreeing on the composition of Parliament as set out in the draft proposals submitted by the Select Committee to all political parties.

The Select Committee proposal that a District PR system be introduced was rejected by the UNP which proposed instead a National PR system be implemented.

The Parliamentary Select Committee had suggested that the 225 seats in Parliament be composed of 150 elected MPs from 150 polling divisions under the first-past-the post (FPP) system, 72 District MPs under the District PR system and 3 National PR MPs from unrepresented minor parties.

However the UNP has insisted on a total of 125 elected MPs under the FPP system and a 100 members under the PR system,
With the UNP disagreeing on one of the key recommendations, work on the electoral reforms came to a standstill. However after more than a month, Mr. Wickremesinghe is expected to meet the Committee.

Parliamentary Select Committee Chairman Minister Dinesh Gunawardene told The Sunday Times the Committee was hopeful a consensus could be reached.

He said the UNP proposal of a National PR system could be considered, but the fate of smaller parties under such a system had also to be looked into.

“We have to see if the smaller parties would get a similar percentage of votes under a National PR system as under a District PR system. However these are the two proposals that have come finally.

Among the key recommendations of the Committee was the reintroduction of the Ward system for Local Government elections, subject to the re-demarcation of electoral boundaries by a fresh Delimitation Commission.

The need for a permanent Delimitation Commission for Parliamentary and local government elections was viewed as a vital factor.

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