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Parliament has to approve delimitation report on PCs with two thirds majority: Deshapriya

The delimitation report on the Provincial Councils has to be approved by Parliament with two thirds majority, Election Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya said.

Responding to a question by a journalist at a press conference at the Elections Secretariat yesterday, Deshapriya said Local Government and Provincial Councils Minister Faiszer Musthapha, to whom the delimitation report was submitted last Monday, has to present it to Parliament.

He said if it did not receive the two thirds majority support, then the Prime Minister should appoint a special commission to look into it and re-submit the report. Deshapriya told the media that he could not exactly say when the Provincial Council Elections would be held because this procedure is yet to be completed.

He said that in addition to the Eastern, North Central and Sabaragamuwa PCs, for which elections are already due, the term of three more PCs namely the Central, Northern and North Western PCs would also end by next September. He said it would be better if the PC elections are conducted at least by September. “Postponing elections is against the franchise and supremacy of the people,” he said.

He pointed out that the Local Authorities, being a devolved subject coming under the Provincial Councils, can hardly function when PCs are not operative.

He noted as per the recent Amendments made to the Provincial Councils Act, the mix member proportional system would apply to the Provincial Council Elections too. “The 60:40 ratio of the First-Past-the-Post and Proportional Representation that applied to LG elections will change to 50:50 ratio at the PC elections. The overhang will be less unless any party claims a sweeping victory at the elections,” he added.

Replying to the questions by the media, Deshapriya said that going back to the old electoral system is impossible unless Parliament amends the relevant Act again.

He also reminded both President Maithripala Sirisena and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa explicitly stated in their manifestos that a new electoral system would be introduced based on the mix member proportional system and that the people have given a mandate for that.

“Therefore, there is a question whether the people would like to go back to the preferential votes system. It is up to Parliament to decide on the legislation. The stability does not matter much in a democracy. If any mix member proportional system to work well, bonus seats and cut off points are necessary,” he said.