Minorities feel hard done by electoral reform

Manoganesan1A proposed move to reform Sri Lanka’s electoral system has not found favour with the country’s minority Tamil and Muslim political parties, who say the current proportional representation system is best suited for their interests.

“There are sudden moves to change the present electoral system. The minority Tamil and Muslim parties can’t support the move,” Mano Ganesan, leader of a Tamil party has said.

Ganesan who leads the Democratic People’s Front, said the minorities see the present proportional representation (PR) system to elect members to the parliament as best for the minority parties.

”It is only under this system that minority parties were able to win representation in elected bodies,” Ganesan said.

Moves are underway to change the PR system into a hybrid of PR and first past the post system and to increase the number of seats in parliament to 250 from 225.  “We need discussions on this and we can’t agree to change the system in a hurry.

Tamil and Muslim minority parties will meet tomorrow to take a joint stand, if needed we will resort to legal action,” Ganesan said.
Electoral reform was one of the main promise of opposition unity candidate Maithripala Sirisena in the run up to the general elections in January this year.

The proposed 19th amendment to the constitution would also be voted upon in the parliament next week.

The bill seeks restoration of independent commissions and restoration of powers to the judiciary, apart from stripping the president of some of his executive powers while bringing back a two-term presidential limit.

Former President Mahila Rajapaksa had removed the two-term limit on the presidency that allowed him to contest for a third-term.
He had also accumulated more powers over the judiciary and public servants during his decade-long regime.

The electoral reforms are also to be incorporated into the 19th amendment or they might be introduced separately as 20th amendment. (PTI)