Holding election under old system against people’s mandate - Gevindu Kumaratunga | Sunday Observer

Holding election under old system against people’s mandate - Gevindu Kumaratunga

17 October, 2021

In the backdrop of renewed calls to hold the Provincial Council Elections expeditiously the Yuthukama Organisation President and SLPP national list Parliamentarian Gevindu Kumaratuna made a statement in Parliament recently elaborating on his organisation’s position on the matter.

The Parliament Select Committee appointed to identify Appropriate Reforms of the Election Laws and the Electoral System and to recommend amendments which met recently decided to amend the law soon, removing the current impediments to hold the PC election, presumably under the old system.

The Select Committee met under the chairmanship of Leader of the House, Minister Dinesh Gunawardena recently.

Yuthukama President said they were of the view the election should be held but reverting back to the proportionate representation system was going against the people’s mandate.


He said after the proportionate representation system of election was introduced in 1977 by President J.R.Jayawardena, and the sacred bond between the voter and the people’s representative in the electorate was severed.It has created infighting and rivalry between the candidates and MPs of the same party who are contesting within a single district. “And we see massive funds being spent for poll campaigning, which deprives a level playing field for candidates. And we believe this electoral system has an uncanny relationship with corruption,” he said.

“People opine that as long as the proportionate electoral system exists, eliminating corruption in the state sector is a day dream.”

He said, “In the new system of Provincial Council Election, changes have been brought in to elect a member for the electorate, but ad-hoc amendments by the JVP and SLMC (to ensure that the percentage of vote should be the basis for selecting the number of MPs) has distorted the system and has weakened this bond between the voter and the elected member.”

Today, strengthening this ‘voter-member’ relationship is more important than sticking to logic and mathematics.

Currently there is an ongoing dialogue on ‘ways and means’ to implement the people’s mandate, through a Select Committee on Electoral Reforms and a new Constitution making process.

Numerous political parties, national and civil organisations have presented their proposals to the expert committee on the constitution making process re the Provincial Council system which was thrust upon us under the Indo-Lanka accord, following a brutal public oppression campaign, he noted.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa outlined his views on how the unitary features, especially in relation to health and education subjects, should be maintained in a new Constitution during his Independence Day speech in 2020.


Similarly, views have been expressed on the holding of the provincial council election. Minister Janaka Bandaran Tennakoon announced in Parliament that there was no conducive environment to hold the provincial council election at present.

“We all know that official and unofficial partners of the last Government brought in amendments to the draft Provincial Council Law to sabotage the process and create the existing legal impediments (where the election cannot be held under the new or old system without passing a new bill in Parliament).

The Samagi Jana Balawegaya, TNA, SLMC, and Rishad Bathiudeen’s party all unified in the Parliament to create the current ‘legal mess’ with the provincial council election.”

Kumaratunga said the same leader of the SLMC Rauff Hakeem who is a partner of this current mess, today speaks of the necessity to hold the PC election. But during the Yahapalana regime these minority parties were against holding the PC election for the fear of diluting power of the UNP led Government.

The visiting Indian Foreign Secretary expressed that it was a question why the Tamil political parties don’t exert the same pressure they exert on Delhi, on the Colombo Government to hold the PC election.


The Yuthukama Organisation has submitted a set of proposals for a new system of election for PCs and others, to the Specialist Committee on the new Constitution and the Parliament Select Committee on Elections.

“We have proposed an electoral system that will consider other crucial factors in addition to the number of votes, something similar to the US system. We came up with it after considering the fact that in 2015, the candidate who ultimately emerged the winner lost many constituencies but his victory was sealed by unprecedented votes received in a few constituencies. This is not a fair system.”

Kumaratunga said that the new system must restore the old bond between the voter and the elected member. This could be achieved by reverting to a system where 70 percent of members will be elected from an electorate. Twenty percent of the balance should be preserved for best losers representing all communities and to accommodate divergent views, while 10 percent of members can be selected from the national list, based on the total number of votes a party has secured. This structure will ensure that the voice of all segments of the society being represented in the House.

“Our view is that the Provincial Council election must be held and the PCs should be converted into development coordination bodies to effectively contribute to further the Government’s development goals,” he said.

It should be reminded that securing a 2/3 majority under the proportionate system is extremely difficult. The people gave this mandate at the last general election to bring in a new Constitution that is fair by all and a new electoral system that truly reflects people’s wishes. The new Constitution must also uphold the victory against separatism in 2009.

Kumaratunga said President Gotabaya Rajapaksa assured that the draft of the new Constitution will be tabled before his second anniversary in office. “We welcome that announcement and the general masses await the fulfillment of that promise.”

[Opposition wants PC election under old system]

SLMC Leader Rauff Hakeem speaking at the debate said the Provincial Council election can be held expeditiously if it is held under the old system. MP M.A. Sumanthiran has submitted a very simple Bill in Parliament. The Government can take charge of that bill and get it approved by the Cabinet.

Bring it as a Government Bill and enable, the Provincial Council Election to be conducted without any delay. The Opposition is willing to support it. The Weerakesary paper says the visiting Indian Foreign Secretary too has made a specific request about the implementation of the 13th amendment, that is to reestablish and conduct elections for the Provincial Councils.

Minister Dinesh Gunawardena is quite aware of the interest of the Government of India for the need to strengthen the 13th Amendment. In order to strengthen the 13th Amendment, we need to conduct the elections.

The election have been postponed for several years now, with a simple amendment to the law, the Government can enable the holding of the PC election.

Minister of Finance Basil Rajapaksa said the Government is of the view that the provincical council elections must be held soon to resolve issues that have cropped up due to the councils being inactive for nearly three years.

He was speaking at the meeting of Parliamentary Select Committee on electoral reforms which met under the chairmanship of Leader of the House, Minister Dinesh Gunawardena recently.

The Select Committee of Parliament to identify appropriate reforms of the election laws and the electoral system and to amendments decided to revise the law to facilitate holding the Provincial Council Elections expeditiously. Minister Basil Rajapaksa said it is not fair for one person to be in charge of the entire operations of the Provincial Council.

The terms of the nine Councils expired nearly three years ago. The committee members said that in the current situation, action should be taken to hold the Provincial Council Elections under the old electoral system.

Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee, Leader of the House, Minister Dinesh Gunawardena said that it was appropriate to present the legal amendments to Parliament in January next year in order to hold the Provincial Council Elections. The need to work towards a fair representation of women in making such amendments was also discussed in the committee.

“The majority opinion is that a mixed electoral system is suitable for the country,” he said. Minister Gunawardena said that many political parties as well as independent groups that testified in the Committee were of the same opinion.

The Expert Committee appointed to analyse proposals submitted to identify appropriate reforms of the election laws and the electoral system also submitted its proposals to the Parliamentary Select Committee. Speaking on behalf of the committee, its Chairman, Vice Chancellor of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Prof. Sudantha Liyanage said out that the general public opinion was that the number of seats in local Government bodies should be reduced.

He told in the committee that it was not practical to reduce the number of divisions and that the number of seats should be reduced from the proportional representation. He also said that some members of the expert committee were of the view that the number of seats should be reduced from both the divisional and proportional representation. It is advisable to maintain the female representation at 25 percent. Parliamentary and Provincial Council elections should be held under the same system.

He added that it was advisable to maintain the number of seats in Parliament at 225. Prof. Liyanage said that a proper procedure should be devised for the appointment of Members of Parliament from the National List.

Ministers Nimal Siripala de Silva, Pavithradevi Wanniarachchi, Members of Parliament Ranjith Madduma Bandara, Anura Dissanayake, Mano Ganeshan, M.A Sumanthiran, Madura Vithanage and Sagara Kariyawasam were also present at the committee meeting.

Officials from the Attorney General’s Department and the Delimitation Commission were also present.

The next meeting of the Parliamentary Select Committee is scheduled to be held on October 22, the Secretary to the Select Committee, Deputy Secretary General & Chief of Staff of Parliament Kushani Rohanadheera said.