Refining and Reforming Lanka’s Electoral System: A Fairer Scheme

An “Optimistic Psephologist,” in The Island, 26 September 2015 …… A Mixed Electoral System for Sri Lanka

The results of General Election 2015 by percentage of votes and seats were as follows –


It would appear that there is a discrepancy in the proportion of votes against seats, particularly between the JVP and the TNA.

It is obvious that it is the difference between a concentrated minority party and a dispersed minority party. It is this disparity that a mixed system like MMR seeks to rectify, and why it is used in New Zealand and Germany. It gives a dispersed minority a means of being represented in parliament.

Using the Sainte- Lague method of PR used in New Zealand, the 17th August Result would have been.

UNF – 105 seats

UPFA – 98

JVP – 11

TNA – 11

The SLMC and EPDP may have won a seat each and the parliament would have been increased to 227 if each member had been ELECTED to a constituency.

Suggested Form of MMR

Sri Lanka could adopt MMR on the basis of 125 constituencies electing members and 100 members from the parties’ nominations lists. There are 15,044,490 registered voters in the country. This would mean 125 constituencies of 120,000 each. On this basis the distribution of constituencies according to the registered voters by district would be as follows –

  • There should be TWO separate Ballot Papers – One for electing a member for the constituency and the Second a vote for a Party. This is less confusing than selecting preferences. It consists of marking an ‘x’ against a candidate on one ballot paper; and marking an ‘x’ against a party on the other. The ballot papers could be of different colours and placed in separate boxes.
  • At the close of voting, the Party votes are counted and those getting less that 5% of the vote are eliminated, unless they have won a single seat.
  • Those Parties which have won a single seat or polled more than 5% of the vote are then entitled to the number of seats in parliament in proportion to the votes they received.
  • Assuming a party gets 45 % of the vote. It will be entitled to 45% of 225 seats ie – 101 seats. If it has got 85 members by election, then it will be entitled to nominate 16 members from its list to make up the 101. If it has won 102 elected members, it is NOT entitled to any nominated members, but can keep the extra member and parliament is enlarged by 1 for its term. (This is a rare event!)
  • If a party does not win a single elected member, but gets 5% of the vote it is entitled to 5% of the seats – 11 seats, and nominates them from its list. It is in this manner that dispersed minority parties can get representation, by having a separate ballot paper for selecting a Party.

In this system, each voter will have a member of parliament and in this manner parliament will reflect the vote of the electorate, and will not have the discrepancy seen in the recent election. It is time that the people regarded themselves as Sri Lankans and had an electoral system that was NOT based on ethnic, caste or religious factors, but on the pure fact of the number of voters, irrespective of other considerations!

Optimistic Psephologist

A THOUGHT: may this optimist live long in great health and be born again as a saint. With thanks. Editor Thuppahi

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Filed under accountability, constitutional amendments, democratic measures, parliamentary elections, patriotism, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society

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