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Sri Lanka PC poll revamp cuts costs; way open for campaign finance curbs: Eran

Sep 21, 2017 10:01 AM GMT+0530 | 0 Comment(s)

ECONOMYNEXT - The passage of a law to bring directly elected provincial council members has cut down campaign costs, paving the way for campaign financing laws, while expanding female representation, State Minister Eran Wickramaratne said.

Half the members of provincial councils will be elected on the basis of geographical seats instead of the current districts where candidates will only have to campaign in a small area at a lower cost, and the balance 50 percent will be elected on the party vote on a district basis.

The change ends the 'manape' or preferential vote, which has led to intra-party rivalry and violence.

The current administration is also hoping to make national parliament polls also on a mix of 'first past the post' and proportional representative basis.

"The change in the system will reduce the expense of elections," State Minister of Finance Wickramaratne told EconomyNext. "When the cost is down more people could participate in the election. It reduces the dependence of the elected representative on the funders of the campaign, which will strengthen democracy. I would go further to say the time has come to bring laws that will restrict spending and restrict the contribution of individuals and corporates can make to election campaigns."

He says the passage of the PC polls law gives effect to campaign promise made to bring directly elected members.

However, there was also a promise to hold provincial elections on the same day, which has not become possible yet.

Another major advance in the law was the increase in female representation to 25 percent.

At the moment, female representation was highest in the national parliament around 5 percent, but was down to around 2 percent at regional and local levels, he said.

"That is very progressive from a gender point of view," Wickramaratne said. "The government has made great progress. A country has about 53 percent females who are thoroughly under-represented."

Under the law, at least one-sixth of the nominations (about 17 percent) have to be female representatives.

Whatever the balance has to be made up of the 50 percent of members appointed through proportional representation.

Any vacancy of a female member has to be filled by a female member.

Universal suffrage and democracy (or the popular vote), which emerged in Europe, did not necessarily promote freedom, peace of happiness, unless the members believed in individual liberty and equality.

When economic illiberals (interventionists and socialists) were elected the people lost their economic freedoms and the creative space to innovate and progress.

When nationalists were elected, it led to hate, minority oppression, war, misery and the deaths of thousands and millions, as was shown in Eastern Europe in particular, and elsewhere as monarchical rule gave way to the popular vote.

A first past the post system can also make it easier for the unarmed common people to topple an incumbent elected ruling class, lifting the bar and forcing a ruling class to behave better than a proportional system where incumbents and senior party members have an advantage.

Unlike the first past the post system, proportional representation in Europe tended to strengthen majoritarianism, ethno-religious fascism and minority oppression, liberty advocates say.

A key plank of the Italy's Fascist Manifesto was the introduction of proportional representation.

The Fascist Manifesto also called for the abolition of the Senate, another tool which restricts majoritarianism. (Colombo/Sept21/2017)


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