New electoral system, totally fair - Minister of Labour and Trade Union Relations, W.D.J. Senewiratne | Sunday Observer

New electoral system, totally fair - Minister of Labour and Trade Union Relations, W.D.J. Senewiratne

Minister of Labour and Trade Union Relations W.D.J. Senewiratne says, whether the new electoral system is beneficial to the SLFP or not, the new system is grossly fair. In an interview with the Sunday Observer, the Minister said, at present there are no clashes among party supporters and the election expenses of all candidates have been brought down to a minimum. Similarly, the people are relatively free now as they don’t have to experience the annoyance of listening to various meetings all over the country. Rather than weighing the advantages and disadvantages for the party, generally, this is a good system for the Provincial Councils and the General Elections, as well.

Q: The Bond Commission report seems to be unfavourable to the UNP and a parliamentary debate on February 6 is likely to focus more on this issue. Do you hope to get an electoral advantage over the UNP, in this situation?

A: In fact, the date of the debate was fixed after the Party Leaders met. I think the President has already expressed the view that there is no point in holding this debate on February 6, since it would be limited to a few hours and as such it wouldn’t be a comprehensive debate. On the other hand, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe wanted to have the debate on February 6 while the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa wanted to have it before February 7. President Maithripala Sirisena wanted to have the debate before the LG polls. Likewise, there were different views expressed on the matter. If we could have this debate after the election, then everybody will have time to get ready for it and the public too could get the opportunity to keenly watch the proceedings. As it is, due to the election heat, nobody is free either to listen to, or form their opinion on the debate. This will be a sham, an eyewash. My view is that this debate should be postponed, to be held after the elections.

Q: The Pohottuwa camp unofficially led by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa has expressed the view that it will secure a major victory at the forthcoming polls. What is your comment, will the division of SLFP voters between the Pohottuwa and betel leaf result in an undue advantage for the UNP?

A: I don’t think so. The UNP will also attack the former regime. The President is also attacking the former regime. Therefore, there is no reason that the SLFP will be adversely affected by those utterances either by the UNP or any other party against the former Government. The President is also criticizing some of the corrupt activities of the former Government.

Q: There has been a lot of tension between the ruling SLFP and the UNP over corruption claims. With increased rivalry for the LG polls between the two parties, do you think the Yahapalana Government can continue till 2020?

A: This is a situation which we will have to wait and see. We are not in a position to predict anything.

Q: The new electoral system has not been tested at national level though it has eliminated the problems caused by preferential voting. Have you made a preliminary assessment of how the SLFP would fare under the new system?

A: Whether it is beneficial to the SLFP or not , I have found that this new electoral system is very fair. Now there are no clashes among party supporters and the election expenses of candidates have been brought down to a minimum. Similarly, the people are very much free now as they don’t have to experience the annoyance of listening to various meetings all over the country. I find, this is a very fair election system. Rather than weighing the advantages and disadvantages for the party, generally, this is a good system for the Provincial Councils and the General Elections, as well.

Q: There are allegations that the whole corruption drama is a sham conducted by the UNP and the SLFP leaders to hoodwink voters ahead of the February 10 polls and everything will be back to normal after February 10. What is your comment?

A: Normally, this has been the pattern. I don’t know whether it would be the same this time as well. At an election time, in order to get an advantage, people utter various things against their political opponents. At the end of the election, things subside, that has been the pattern right through. 

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