PM initiates dialogue with party leaders: Sub-Committee for Electoral Reforms

By Manjula Fernando and Rajmi Manatunga
Published January 30th 2003 in Sri Lanka Daily News

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe will appoint a committee chaired by Power and Energy Minister Karu Jayasuriya to define the role of the proposed Parliamentary Sub-Committee on electoral reforms shortly.

At the weekly Cabinet press briefing yesterday, Prof.G.L.Peiris said electoral reforms are a timely need and the majority of people expect a change in the electoral system.

"The Prime Minister has already initiated a dialogue with leaders of all the political parties represented in Parliament and several issues have already been identified with regard to electoral reforms," he said.

This committee which will consist of eight ministers including Prof.G.L.Peiris is expected to draft the recommendations on the terms of reference for the Parliament Sub Committee which will be appointed by the government in the near future to explore the possibilities of reforming the current electoral system. The Parliament Sub Committee which will be represented by all government and opposition parties is required to make recommendations on a most suitable electoral system for the country.

They will deliberate whether to retain the current system of proportional representation or bring in the former first past the post system or introduce a combination of the two.

In addition it will be expected to define the minimum qualifications of Members of Parliament as well as the number of Members in the Parliament. A mechanism for candidates who have been obtained a good number of votes but who have unsuccessful in particular constituencies to sit in Parliament is also to be considered. Among the other issues to be taken in to deliberation are bi-elections, the question of reserved constituencies, multi-member constituencies and cut off points.

"Whether a second chamber such as the senate we had in the Parliament until the late 1950's, should be brought into the system and the matters relating to the National Identity card in order to minimise election abuses will also be taken into consideration."

Proceedings with regard to the delimitation commission is also among the priority areas to be discussed in the proposed Parliament sub-committee.