Local Authorities Election 2018: Media Communique 1

10th January 2018, Colombo, Sri Lanka

The Elections Commission has officially declared 10th February as the date for the Local Authorities Elections that have been postponed for several years. Local Authorities Elections held prior to the forthcoming elections, were held in three stages as below.

The first stage was held on 17 / 03 / 2011.

The second stage was held on 23 / 07 / 2011.

The third stage was held on 10 / 08 / 2011.

Of the above three stages, the first stage was held under the former Commissioner of Elections Mr. Dayananda Dissanayake. Since Mr. Dayananda Dissanayake retired after the first stage, his successor Mr. Mahinda Deshapriya took charge of the other two stages. The said election was the last Local Authorities Election held under a Commissioner of Elections and in accordance with the proportional representative (PR) System.

Although the prevailing government at the time, had decided to commence the aforementioned Local Authorities Election under a mixed system comprising of Proportional Representative System (PR system) and First Pass the Post System (FPTP system), the particular decision was revoked and hence the election was held according to the Proportional Representative (PR) System. It was during this election that the official accreditation to deploy Observers in every polling station island-wide was given to the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) and the People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFRAL).

The final result of the three- stage elections recorded the United People’s Freedom Alliance receiving 4,774,791 votes and taking control of in 271 out of 322 local authorities.  See grid below:

Name of the party /Independent group Urban Council Municipal Council Pradeshiya Sabha Total
  United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) 17 29 225 271
Ilankai Thamil Arusu Kachchi (ITAK) 5 25 30
United National Party (UNP) 2 5 3 10
Sri Lanka Muslim Congress 1 4 5
National Congress 1 1 2
Tamil United Liberation Front 2 2
Kandurata Janatha Peramuna (Kandurata People’s Front) 1 1
Independent Group 1 1
Total 21 39 262 322

 

Although the official term of a local authority is typically four years, the upcoming election was declared long after terms of office of local authorities expired. There were numerous reasons for the delay. The primary reason was the delimitation process that had to be undertaken as per the newly introduced mix member proportional system of elections and the political dynamics at play. CMEV has expressed its concerns over the postponement of elections to the Election Commission established as per the 19th Constitutional Amendment and to the public at large.  We are of the view that notwithstanding the powers granted to the Election Commission under the 19th Amendment, the postponement of elections was largely due to the political dynamics at play as seen by the political parties, rather than any lapse on the part of the Commission.  CMEV notes that the relevant line ministry has to issue the gazette indicating the number of members to be elected from all constituencies and that Parliament has to approve the gazette. CMEV calls for the authority to schedule elections on time to be granted to the Election Commission.

The upcoming Local Authorities Election is significant because it will be the first to be conducted under the Elections Commission as well as under new system of election.  Of considerable importance too is the quota for female representation that seeks to rectify the regionally and internationally low representation of women in legislative bodies in Sri Lanka.

The total cost incurred by the Elections Commission to conduct the elections in which over 56,000 candidates will contest in 341 local authorities consisting of more than 13,000 polling stations, amounts to 3500 million LKRS. Under the new electoral system 60% of the candidates are returned through First Past the Post (FPTP) and 40% returned through PR. The overall result though, will be proportional to the total number of votes obtained.  . Accordingly, a minimum of 8356 members are expected to be elected to 341 local authorities

The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV), has initiated its election observation process throughout the period of local authorities election. The observation process consists of field monitors deployed as long-term observers covering all 25 administrative districts and a large number of static observers to be stationed in the polling stations on the day of elections.  In addition, on polling day mobile monitors will be deployed around the country .

CMEV will continue to work with the Commission of Elections and civil society organizations to ensure the full and effective participation of persons with disabilities in the electoral process. The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence has also undertaken baseline surveys and gathered data on campaign finance and the use of polythene for campaigns. CMEV will make full use of the mainstream and social media in its contribution towards the electorate making an informed choice.

Download this communique in English, Sinhala and Tamil.

First consultative meeting on out-of-country voting

As a part of the ’Campaign ABC’ designed by CMEV to facilitate the voting rights of  Persons with Disabilities and migrant workers, CMEV conducted its first consultation session in partnership with the AFRIEL Youth Network on 16th October 2016 in Vavuniya.

Prof. S. Rathnajeevan H. Hoole attended this event representing the Election Commission of Sri Lanka (EC)  while Mr. M.M. Mohamed, Additional Commissioner of EC and Mr. Nalaka Ratnayake, Assistant Commissioner of EC addressed the event. Additionally Manjula Gajanayake spoke on international experience and methodologies of Out-of-Country Voting (OCV).

The purpose of this program has been to call for views and suggestions in relation to the rights of the out-of-country voters and compile a set of recommendations based on those inputs and present it to the relevant authorities including the parliamentary select committee nominated to investigate matters related to OCV. Higher officials attached to government ministries and departments as well as Sri Lanka Police, representatives of migrant workers associations and disability organisations, religious leaders, university students attended in this event.

It is worth noting that the Election Commission is not advocating any specific methodologies for Sri Lankan migrant voters, because there is a PSC that has been specifically established for this purpose since April 2016.  Yet however, the officials at the Election Commission are actively participating in this discourse as observers as well as resource persons.

TALK BACK WITH JAYASIRI: LG elections delay and consequences

Mr. Manjula Gajanayake, National Co-ordinator, Centre for Monitoring Election Violence – TALK BACK WITH JAYASIRI: Centre for Monitoring Violence (CMEV) is facilitating a series of programs focusing on current political issues, giving special focus to the electoral reforms and the reconciliation processes of the country.

The National Co-ordinator of CMEV, Mr. Manjula Gajanayake attended this program and expressed his thoughts on the current situation of the delayed Local Government Elections as well as the consequences of delaying such an important election for such a long time.

He further highlighted number of weaknesses of the previous delimitation committee report on the local government elections published in gazette by the President in September last year and the unconditional importance of holding this election without any further delay. He further highlighted the importance of strengthening the newly established Election Commission with powers being vested on it to hold any election under its discretion and the importance of having a schedule of elections.

Empowering youth towards inclusion and advocacy

CMEV was able to facilitate the project ‘Assista’ (Atha Hitha), recently implemented by Enable Lanka Foundation. The main objective of this project is to facilitate resources to make youth in selected districts of the country proactive youth leaders who will work as active stakeholders to bring in solutions faced by the communities in the district pertaining to civic and political engagement, employment and inclusion. The first event took place in Galle recently and this short documentary was produced at the said event.

 

Press conference to ensure that local government elections are conducted urgently

The official term of most of the local government authorities have ended at this time. Thus, it is undoubtedly the need of the hour to ensure that local government elections are held without any further delay. However, no precise statement has so far been issued with regard to the time frame for holding elections.

CMEV held a press conference on 23rd June 2016 where relevant legal and technical aspects and other pertinent background facts with regard to the above subject was discussed.

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Additional media coverage of the event is available here: Press Coverage_CMEV.

View a video of the event here.

 

Voters’ Day – June 2016

June 01st is considered as ‘VOTERS’ DAY’ of the country. There were several awareness programs and gatherings to celebrate this special day during the first week of this month. It is for the first time that the Election Commission (EC) celebrated this day after they were established. Centre for Monitoring Election Violence also celebrated it in partnership with the Election Commission. The main event of the Election Commission was held at the auditorium of the District Secretariat of Colombo this morning. The Chairman of the EC highly appreciated the involvement of CMEV, particularly in providing awareness material in accessible formats. Here are some images of distributing leaflets, the walk and the main gathering.

IMG_1969IMG_2019IMG_2043IMG_2063IMG_2172IMG_2254Voters Day Poster (1)