PSC on electoral reform recommends control of election expenses, code of conduct for candidates

  • Committee presents final report to House
  • Makes 15 recommendations including guidelines for media during poll campaigns, steps to stop abuse of State resources
  • Recommends more youth, women representation

A Parliamentary Committee that looked into electoral reforms has recommended that legislation be introduced to control election expenses, a code of conduct for candidates and steps to prevent misuse of state resources during election campaigns.

The final Report of the Select Committee of Parliament to Identify Appropriate Reforms of the Election Laws and the Electoral System and to Recommend Necessary Amendments which was presented to Parliament last week contains 25 observations and 15 recommendations.

The Report was tabled in Parliament by its Chairman, Public Administration, Home Affairs, Provincial Councils and Local Government Minister and Leader of the House of Parliament Dinesh Gunawardena.

This Committee, which met for the first time on 17 May 2021, received over 160 representations from non-governmental organisations, religious organisations, women’s groups, representatives of various cultural and ethnic groups, and the general public in response to a press release issued to the public and representatives of interested organisations on electoral reform, requesting for their submission of representation respecting the right to freedom of expression.

69 recognised political parties were requested for their representations and 36 had submitted their written and oral representations to the Committee.

 The Committee then tabled the final report of the Committee, considering all the oral and written representations made by recognised political parties, the general public and interested organisations, women’s organisations and electronic media institutions during the 29 meetings of the Committee held.

While presenting the report, Committee Chairman Dinesh Gunawardena gave an outline of the recommendations which include amending the existing laws pertaining to the Provincial Council Elections or formulating new rules and regulations or holding it under the previous election system.

The Committee also recommended  more youth and women’s representation in elected bodies and said that the role of the media during the election period should be taken into consideration in keeping with the submissions made to the Committee by the Elections Commission.

The Committee has recommended media guidelines to address issues such as the conduct of  political propaganda activities through electronic media, violation of election laws on social media platforms, misinterpretation of information and dissemination of false information.

Recommendations on election systems have been made for local Government, provincial council and parliamentary elections, as well as recommendations on increasing women’s representation.

Recommendations also have been made for the introduction of legal provisions to make it compulsory to allocate a 25% quota for youth representation in the nomination lists for local Government elections and provincial council elections under youth representation.

This report also includes recommendations on election campaigning, the right to vote, the nomination process, the electoral process, the Election Tribunal, delegation of powers of the local Government institutions and the Provincial Councils to the Commissioner/Secretary and the Provincial Secretary until the election is over, the failure to approve the annual budget by a local Government authority, restrictions on field officers to contest local Government elections, national list and delimitation.

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