A robust set of electoral reforms to ensure good governance

Bernard Fernando, Moratuwa  (Letter to the Editor, Daily FT)

It is learnt that Constitutional reforms prepared by the various sub-committees of the Parliament will be made public shortly.

At the outset, we have strong reservations about parliamentarians as representatives of people being given the sole responsibility of handling their own governance which is tantamount to ‘conflict of interest’. Therefore, we doubt whether even the so-called recommendations of the ‘Public Committee on Constitutional Reforms’ were seriously addressed by the aforesaid committees which have different priorities bordering on ‘empire building’ and self-interest.

The writer for the last several years has been addressing the attention of the academia, civil rights organisations, public and the politicians on the captioned subject through the blessings of the press prior to appearing before the aforesaid Public Committee. Whether my recommendations were highlighted by the Committee is yet again another matter of concern.

Be that as it may, as a citizen with country at heart, I wish to reiterate the following recommendations on electoral reforms which are prerequisites for a people based system of governance.

1) Abolish optional Preference Voting mechanism and introduce district-wise nomination lists in merit order.

2) All parties/alliances should be required to select and nominate patriotic, professional candidates based on a transparent, structured interview system.

3) Abolish National List and apply a simple, proportionate arithmetic method to determine the number of seats allocated to each party/alliance on a district basis.

4) Select MPs strictly from district-wise merit order lists to represent the seats allocated to each party/alliance. Voters will mark their vote only for the party/alliance, thereby simplifying the entire vote counting process.

5) Completely stop crossovers and allow district merit list to operate automatically to fill vacancies created by death/expulsion, etc.

6) Make party/alliance ‘election manifesto’ a legally-enforceable document as voter decision is mainly based on the pledges given in this document.

7) Reduce President’s powers.

8) Make President a statesman and prohibit him from participating in party politics during his term of office.

9) Provide for an all-party Cabinet, applying proportionate arithmetic to national election results.

10) Hold presidential election and parliamentary election on one specified date.

11) Hold all Provincial Council elections also on one specified date.

12) Depoliticise and elect independent members to LG bodies.

We earnestly appeal to all concerned civil organisations, academics and genuine politicians to ponder again on this matter without regretting later.

The writer is willing to clarify further if requested by concerned readers though he has already dwelt at length through the press on the above-mentioned recommendations.