Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe known to be shrewd politicians has put the main opposition Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) into disarray by putting forward electoral reforms that restrict the strength of parliament to 225.
This has been contrary to the expectations of the SLFP which was expecting to raise the number in Parliament to 255 under the new electoral reforms.
‘The opposition will now have to support the electoral reforms or will be branded as the party that opposed the electoral reforms which recommends the doing away of the preferential vote system’, a Political analyst noted.
Under premier Wickremesinghe’s proposals 125 will be elected under the first past the post system, 75 Mps under the district PR system and 25 members from the National List.The 75 MPs under the district PR system will be selected from the votes taken into account of candidates who failed to be elected under the first past the post system.
With the proposals being now approved by the cabinet, the next move will be to gazette it and take it up in Parliament.
The United National Party (UNP) has taken action to strongly defend the move to reduce the number of MPs elected under the first past the post system to 125 saying it was a waste of money to increase the number of MPs. ‘It will add a burden on the public’ commented minister Rosy Senanayaka.
The SLFP members have been placed in a difficult position as President Maithripala Sirisena, who is also the leader of the party has said that this was the ideal opportunity to pass the electoral reforms as it does away with the preferential vote system.‘The existing electoral system only suits the rich. That is the reason it should be changed’ Sirisena told a meeting of SLFP members hours before the cabinet approved the proposal.
Sirisena said he was aware that some were trying to prevent the electoral reforms being passed.
‘It is now upto the political parties to come out and tell whether they are in favour of the proposals or not’, he said.
However, Political analyst believe that since the UNP has put forward the proposal they are likely to support it, but the SLFP which proposed that the number of MPs should be increased to 255 have been left in dilemma.