- Report proposes amendments to Provincial Council Act
- Recommends adding bonus seats to better establish Provincial Councils
- Recommends that overhang be incorporated without changing number of council seats and instead make reductions to PR list
By Skandha Gunasekara
The report on the Provincial Council (PC) elections, which proposes several amendments to the Provincial Council Election Act, drafted by the committee of experts and civil society members will be presented to Speaker Karu Jayasuriya today (1).
The Committee is to meet the Speaker at 10.30 a.m. today.
Committee head and People’s Action For Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) chief Rohana Hettiarachchi said the Committee had come with six proposals to assist the Government in deciding which electoral system would be followed when conducting the PC elections.
One of the amendments that is proposed in the report is the introduction of bonus seats to strengthen governability within the Provincial Council.
“We have proposed bonus seats for instances where major parties attain a simple majority so that even if minor parties achieve a higher number of wards the bonus seats would allow the party with the simple majority to establish a council,” he said, adding that for this proposal to be implemented the Provincial Council Elections Act would need amending.
Accordingly, the report states: “Give a bonus of four seats to the party receiving the highest number of votes in the case of Provincial Councils with less than 50 members. Give a bonus of five seats to the party receiving the highest number of votes in the case of Provincial Council with 50 or more members.”
In addition, the committee has proposed that in the case of an overhang at a particular council, this overhang be incorporated in the Council without changing the number of seats. “We proposed that if there is an overhang it must be incorporated without changing the number of seats in that council. This would mean that the party concerned would have to make deductions in their Proportional Representation list,” Hettiarachchi said.
The committee was set up by PAFFREL and the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence and includes civil society members and election experts. The committee was set up in consultation with Provincial Councils and Local Government Minister Faiszer Musthapha. Another amendment will also be needed to implement the proposal to have a pre-ranked list for those being selected from the PR list.
“We have recommended that the party leader/organiser will have the freedom to choose 1/3 from the PR candidates while the remaining will be decided with a pre-ranked list which is to be stipulated prior to the election.”
With regard to female representation within Provincial Councils, the committee has proposed that there be an increase in the mandatory nomination for women in the First Past the Post (FPP) electorate list from one-sixth to one-fifth. “Increase the mandatory nomination for women in the FPP electorate list from one-sixth to one-fifth so that more women get a chance to contest. Zip the Pre-Ranked District List by alternating the names of women and men. The list should start with the name of a woman. If Parliament decides to revert to the preferential vote system of the past it is crucial to bring in a mandatory provision of the 25% percent nomination of women,” the report states.
Hettiarachchi noted that the Committee did not review the Delimitation Report as this would require additional time and cause a delay in holding elections.
“One of main objectives when compiling this report was that to ensure that the proposal we make will be implementable in a timely manner so that elections can be held promptly. We know that the Government wants to delay conducting the PC polls so we made it a point to make sure that our report could not be used to cause a postponement. Our request of the Government now is that they seriously consider the report and conduct elections as soon as possible,” he said.