President Maithripala Sirisena recently vowed to have the next local government elections only on ward system based on the first-past-the-post (FPP) voting. His bold statement, if put into practice will certainly do some good towards cleaning Sri Lankan politics as it is now the time for the much maligned PR system to go out. This could be a good starting point.
PR system has been frowned upon and criticized by many as it has often destroyed even the unity among members of the same political party. Its inherent confrontational nature has on many occasions led to infighting, assault and even murder.
As demerits of PR system are too well known in our national politics, we must not hesitate to use the next electoral opportunity to discard it and elect our local leaders in a manner that will not destroy the unity in those areas.
Despite criticism PR also has its own merits although demerits have surpassed merits according to our own national experience. However PR gives value to each vote as opposed to winner-takes-all situations often found in the FPP system. That is why it is often preferred by minority groups and small political parties.Therefore, a mix of FPP and PR may be good for national elections, but PR should ideally be out from local elections
In local elections, the ward system will provide the good candidates a better chance of getting elected as election will mostly depend on one’s reputation in his or her locality. The question of throwing money and winning votes will not arise because good men with little or no money will also be able to contest and win since even house-to-house campaign is possible in a ward which is generally a small area.