It is easier said than done to enact the 100 day program in full, and then go for a general election by dissolving Parliament on April 23rd.
The leading detractors sitting on the sidelines can easily find fault with some pieces of legislation or lack of them. However you cannot have your cake and eat it. So on the one hand there is this incredible insistence on changing the electoral system to a hybrid of first past the post and PR, and secondly on insisting Parliament be dissolved on April 23rd.
In practical terms, any fool knows that both cannot take place, it is either one or the other. The immediate requirement is the change of the Constitution to reduce the powers of the President, for which the mandate at the last Presidential election was unequivocal despite the MR proponents who wish to believe that the minorities don’t have rights, and so unneeded!
However whilst it was in the manifesto, the change in the Electoral system was NOT a major point in the election as a precursor to the next General Election. However the need for it soon was inevitable.
The SLFP is trying to hold the Govt. hostage in demanding the change in Elections, before agreeing to the 19th Amendment, and whilst it is them flexing their muscles a little in light of the clear UNP administration, to score political points for the next election, they do not care if it is really an impractical suggestion just yet.
With the history of our electoral systems as the backdrop, tell me honestly who in their right minds would wish a new electoral system which changes the Electoral Map, without extensive public discussion and debate? It would be one year at the earliest to come up with the fairest plan, as various permutations will have to considered, and experimented with.
It is therefore a no brainer that the UNP idea must be adopted, as the SLFP in their hangover are unable to think for themselves, but make suggestions that seemingly add to their political capital whilst holding the Country hostage.
It must be remembered that the local council or Pradeshiya Sabha elections are due/overdue. So as a start let us finish the demarcations of the wards as soon as possible, and go for a Nationwide set of elections immediately. We can first get a feeling on how this particular system works in practice and whilst not the same as the formulae in place for a general election, it will allow the people some degree of experience on how it works in practice.
I believe it is natural that we test this out and iron out some obvious anomalies of the proposed system before we go to the next step, which is to make proposals based on this experience on how best to improve on the present system of PR without jumping straight into it.
It is time the UNP hold up to the pressure, after passing the 19th Amendment, and follow all the other promises on the 100 day plan as practically possible. Permitting uncertainty amongst the people and those looking to be elected is not good for democracy, and allows past treacherous activity to re-emerge in the guise of patriotism, by the “you know who” underclass that was summarily kicked out on January 8th.