Restore Equality of Vote

CEYLON TODAY | Published: 2:00 AM Sep 22 2021
Columns Restore Equality of Vote

According to recent press reports, it has been re-proposed to continue Elections with ad hoc measures such as Bonus seats, PR:FPP ratio, and Minimum vote per cent under the ‘Electoral Reforms’ in order to remedy so called issues of ‘Stability’, ‘PR Vs. FPP syndrome’ and ‘Minority representation’. At the outset, such ad hoc measures changing with every Election amply prove that they are not scientifically founded on empirical evidence and research. 

The writer as a sovereign voter cum Senior citizen has already submitted ‘Out-of-the-Box’ proposals covering the said issues, to the concerned Committees in tandem with the spirit and objectives of any ‘Reforms’ exercise. Therefore, let me briefly deal with those issues which unfortunately seem to be still entrenched in a parochial state, in the broad minds of some of our leading politicians, political pundits, academics and civil activists. 

Stability in Political Institutions 

This so called ‘Stability’ is obviously created and promoted by selfish, wily and egoistic politicians to grab and remain in power by ‘Hook or by Crook’. As such, it is against the wishes of the sovereign voters in a modern democracy where they expect all parties in both sides of the divide, to arrive at the best solutions/ Laws/Programmes favouring the Country after constructive, wise and healthy debates. 

Such ambience should be the real signal of ‘Political Stability’ in the eyes of foreign investors. Conversely, maintaining an absolute majority by one party, will surely lead to erroneous, misguided, dictatorial decisions as we have experienced in 1970, 1977, 2018 and now in 2020/21! The creation of ‘Stability’ with so called ‘Bonus seats’ unsupported by valid votes, adds insult to injury, as it distorts the ‘Equality’ of vote in a democratic System laid down in the UN Human rights Convention of 1948.

 Further, it is a very crude and simplistic measure adopted in certain games of sport! The solution in this instance, rather lies in breaking new ground as objectively desired under the ongoing ‘Electoral reforms’, with a robust method to allocate seats to parties on a ‘rational and transparent’ basis of proportionate arithmetic assuring ‘equal value’ to votes and achieve the Primary Objective of an Election. 

(The writer has already revealed the distorting effects of applying the said ad hoc measures vide a Table analyzing the results of the 2020 General Election, in his submissions to the said Committees and the press. A similar analysis for the 2015 General Election was also published in the press in 2015). 

Ad hoc ratios for mixed voting 

We know that the experiment of the Mixed Voting System trying to support two types of proponents viz. PR and FPP systems through ad hoc ratios at the 2018 Local Government Elections became a cropper, causing a virtual triple jump increase in the number of elected members and delays in releasing the final results caused by hangovers. 

The writer has proposed a simple and flexible method to accommodate as much as four types of such proponents by introducing lists in order for the Parties to name their selected political professionals under one of the list types chosen by them, to occupy their allocated seats. To ensure the advent of political professionals, the National Elections Commission (NEC) shall stipulate stringent eligibility criteria and structured interview systems for parties to select prospective candidates by rule of law. 

When such professionals with country at heart, deliberate and decide on the best fine-tuned options for the country, terms such as, unstable, hung, cross-overs, party leader’s henchmen, dealpolitics and 2/3rd majority’ which are all creations of unscrupulous politicians, will be avoided in our political vocabulary. Accordingly, with the guaranteed election of 225 honest, wise and educated, political professionals who are fully committed to place the country first, to represent the 16.3 million strong Sovereign voter population, the Secondary objective of the Election is fulfilled. 

Minority Representation

 The questions here is, why should a section of the population be imbued with a minority feeling and downgrade themselves to seek preferential treatment on the one hand and why should the ‘majority’ feel good by giving preferential treatment to their fellow citizens on the other? It is very unfortunate and sad that we are still not ready to think as Sri Lankans having equal rights and duties. If we continue with minimum per cent vote criterion, and prefer to be afflicted with the parochial majority vs minorities syndrome, our country will perpetuate the Ethnic conflict like the beggar’s wound and will never ever come out of it.

 Conclusion

 It is necessary that at any level of Elections, all votes should be considered as SriLankan votes. At Provincial/ District level, the Delimitation Committee will periodically determine the respective geographical boundaries to ensure minority representation as well. Only this concept can resolve the elusive issue of majority vs minorities and ensure an equal value for each vote counted in North, South, East and West.

 If the afore-stated, facts receive due consideration of the concerned Committees, the current ‘Electoral Reforms’ will surely trail blaze a paradigm shift towards a cultural and attitudinal change of treating all citizens. No doubt, the mass Media shall play a crucial role in this effort. 

Bernard Fernando Moratuwa Email: [email protected] yahoo.com 

CEYLON TODAY | Published: 2:00 AM Sep 22 2021

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