Press Briefing: civil society report on Provincial Council Election System

At a press briefing this morning a committee comprising of civil society presented a report of recommendations in review of the provincial council election system.

The report is a result of several drawbacks that are, at present, looming over the provincial councils act and the electoral system.

It was emphasised that consultations for the report was carried out in Colombo and Vavuniya with several political parties, ministers, academics, civil society and the elections commissioner in Colombo.

According to Committee member, Rohana Hettiarachchie, Executive Director, People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) the report has been presented to Hon. Minister Faiszer Musthapha, Minister of Provincial Councils and Local Government and Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Karu Jayasuriya.

As stated in the report the civil society committee has identified six problems; one of which involves the representation of women:

“The committee focused on two critical points which emerged post the Local Authorities Election which it felt needed to be addressed. One concerned the guaranteeing of 25% women’s representation and the difficulty experienced by the Elections Commission in ensuring this for some of the Local Authorities. The other was the manner in which nominations were given to women and seats allocated to them which appeared to be ad hoc and disorganized. Both these factors could create a challenge in the context of the new Provincial Council Election system. The Committee’s serious attention was paid to identifying alternative approaches by which these concerns could be redressed. Thus, the Committee proposes the following strategy:

• 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 twenty five percent nominations of women. ”

To view the full report and other problems identified by the civil society committee click here.

The committee further added that the provincial council elections should be held in January 2019 as planned under the new electoral system, the 50% system, which includes the First Past the Post System and Proportional Representation.

“This current system, which has been already passed in parliament, will by no means raise issues for any political party” said Committee Member, Professor Sudantha Liyanage, Dean, Faculty of Applied Sciences, University of Sri Jayewardenapura.