Select Committee on Electoral Reforms recommends:
Mixed PR and first-past-the-post systems

By Jayantha Sri Nissanka and Bharatha Malawaraarchchi
Published January 24th 2004 in Daily News

The Select Committee on Electoral Reforms yesterday proposed a Mixed Electoral System combining Proportional Representation and first- past-the-post systems.

The Select Committee, chaired by PA MP Dinesh Gunawardane, presented its Interim Report in Parliament yesterday.

The new electoral system will prevent large scale vote rigging and reduce the number of spoilt votes, the report said. The proposed electronic voting system facilitates the release of results for a particular electorate in just two hours. Elections will be conducted on Saturdays.

The Committee has also proposed to make the National Identity Card (NIC) mandatory for voters. "The Department for Registration of Persons have promised that they will issue NICs within six months in line with the New Citizenship Act," Gunawardane told the Media in Parliament.

Gunawardane added that most political parties have generally endorsed the proposals. The new proposals have recommended a freeze on the number of MPs, which is 225 at present.

He said political parties have agreed not to increase the number of seats. It has also proposed recognition and de-recognition of political parties by the Election Commissioner.

Reforms have also proposed an advanced postal voting system where Government servants will have to cast their votes at a centrally located polling station arranged by the Elections Commissioner.

Power and Energy Minister Karu Jayasuriya said that the new electoral system fulfils a long-felt need and will create a new political culture reducing election violence.

"We have combined the good features of the Proportional Representation and first-past-the post systems. We can brush up the electoral list, making the NIC mandatory in order to remove instances of forgery.

The total cost of the election can also be reduced to a great extent with the electronic voting system," he added.

Each machine will cost Indian Rs.11,000 and can be used for at least 10 years. It will work even if the power fails, he added. Sri Lanka has approximately 10,000 polling stations.

CWC MP R. Yogarajan and NUA MP Segu Izzadeen commending the new proposals said it will increase the participation of more minority parties. "We believe that all parties will agree to pass these proposals," he added.

The participation of women in politics will be increased by 30 per cent.