As a condition for supporting the 20 th. Constitutional Amendment (20A), which embodies electoral reforms, Sri Lanka’s small parties and parties of the minority communities, want the inclusion of the “double vote” system.
Under the double vote system, every voter will be given two votes - one to choose an individual candidate, and the other to choose a political party.
Announcing this condition here on Monday, after a meeting of the Assembly of Minor Parties (AMP), Mano Ganeshan, leader of the Tamil Progressive Alliance (TPA), said that the “Double Vote” will help a voter express his wish (a) to elect a particular candidate and (b) to support a particular political party.
This is based on the belief that a candidate of one’s choice may not necessarily belong to the party of one’s choice, or a party of one choice may not put up a candidate of the voter’s liking. The voter should be able to choose across party lines.
“We demand the inclusion of this element in the already proposed 20A. We have decided to refrain from supporting the 20A in the current format without the Double Vote,” Ganeshan declared.
“ A number of political parties in the national political spectrum have joined the campaign for the Double Vote. Many civil society organizations have already pledged support to this concept. The AMP meeting held on Sunday, was attended by Vijitha Herath of Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP); Tissa Vitarana of the Lanka Sama Samaj Party (LSSP); Ananda Mamaduwa, General Secretary of Democratic Party (DP) led by Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka and many other minor and minority party leaders,” Ganeshan said.
20A In Trouble
The 20A has already run into trouble with the opposition Sri Lanka Freedom Party and the United Peoples‘ Freedom Alliance (UPFA) which have a majority in parliament. They are dissatisfied with the cabinet proposal to have a parliament of 237 seats with 145 of them elected through the First Past the Post (FPP) system.
The SLFP and UPFA want 165 seats elected through the FPP system. They also want parliament to be expanded from 225 to 255 seats, and the system of Multi-Member Constituencies (MMC) introduced. The cabinet’s proposal (which is that of President Maithripala Sirisena mainly), does not envisage MMCs.
The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) has its own view on 20A, and has threatened to go to the Supreme Court to fight its case. “Maithripala Sirisena won the January 8 Presidential election with the support of the Muslims. He cannot ignore them,” said Hasan Ali, Secretary General of the SLMC.
The United National Party (UNP), which is the dominant party in the cabinet, had originally favored a parliament of 225 with 125 MPs elected through the FPP system. It is still not clear if has given up that stand.