PM says new election system needs review

Saturday, 24 March 2018 00:05 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Insists re-evaluation essential before next round of polls 
  • Outlines present challenges but insists good points exist in the system 
  • Says political leaders saw problems in former system that led to changes 
  • Calls for cooperation from all parties to resolve short comings 
  • Says whether in govt. or opposition duty is to serve the people

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe believes the newly introduced election system, which the Local Government polls were held under last month, requires extensive re-evaluation and review to minimise implementation challenges before the next elections are rolled out. 

Addressing the newly elected councillors at Temple Trees on Thursday (22 March), the Prime Minister noted that it was the first time that such a larger number of members were elected, but that the new system had resulted in several challenges. However, he was positive about the increased representation, as it created the environment for reduced election violations and violence. 

“In many of the Local Governments, we are still unable to decide who the Chairman is, in others there is a question of providing a 25% quota to women, in some there are challenges on who will be selected through the lists. Some councillors have received the majority of votes while others have not. The new system has clearly created lop-sidedness in representation and other issues. It is imperative that we understand these challenges and resolve them before another election is held under this same system. All political parties are in agreement and we will also be seeking feedback from you all on what changes can be made,” he told the gathering. 

However Wickremesinghe was quick to point out that even if changes are made to existing legislation, it would not retrospectively apply to the candidates already selected. The complications that have arisen from the election system were the main reason for the delay in swearing in most of the Local Governments, even though more than a month has lapsed since the election was held on 10 February. Legal challenges have also been presented, with some members threatening to go to courts to further delay the appointment of the Local Governments, he observed. 

“We may see even more problems before the term of these Local Governments are over,” he conceded. “Nonetheless, we must understand that it is never an easy matter to change electoral systems, and this effort was made because there were many issues in the former system. That was also something all political party leaders agreed on. So having agreed that there is a problem, we must collectively find solutions now.”   

He noted that some members would be in Government while others of the same party would be in the Opposition, but it was still their duty to serve the public. 

“Whether in Government or in the Opposition, the obligations of a politician is the same. They must work for the benefit of the people and in the public’s interest at all times.”