The Sri Lankan electoral system is confusing. You vote for parties, then who you prefer within that party. It’s just one big list, so you can’t vote for the guy from your neighborhood without having it watered down by everybody else in a bigger area. You also can’t control who’s on the party list in the first place. Hence it’s usually the guy on TV (or the one with drug money) that wins. So now they’re changing it to a ward based system starting at the local level. But only a 70% ward based system, which to me is still 30% confusing.
Sri Lankan electoral rules are subject to much debate, like the Duckworth-Lewis method in cricket. Or the recent Super 8s in T20. In that case it was some combination of run rate and actual wins that got you in. In the same way, our electoral system makes only very complicated sense and is confusing for most voters.
When you go in to vote there’s only symbols and numbers. There are actually no names on the ballot. You’re also not voting for your neighborhood but a bigger area. The result is that guys bombard TV and the streets with their face, symbol and number, and that’s about it. There’s no particular advantage to canvassing the neighborhood you’re from because you’re effectively contesting the whole district/province. There is an advantage to spending on TV, but none of this is conducive to much of a representative democracy. When these people get in, they’re more beholden to the people that gave them money than the people in their hood.
First past the post is, essentially, that you vote for names on a ballot. But ours isn’t quite like that. We still vote for party symbols, but the party will only post one candidate per ward. For my family, the ward would be Kurunduwatte, and there’ll be one person from each party contesting, so you just vote for the party symbol. So let’s say R. Dunhinda Falls is running for the UNP and I vote for the elephant.
Now, the 30%. That’s a completely different set of names. They’re not attached to any ward. Which the party nominates, and which get doled out depending on the parties percentage of votes.
Uh, I still barely understand, and I’m a pretty high information voter. My impression is that this gives the parties too much power, but they always had power. But I think that’s bad. We should be getting closer to representative democracy where you vote for people rather than placeholders with perks. I’m not entirely sure what direction this even moves us in. I think it’s slightly better in that it’s a ward system, but it’s still 30% weird.