The National List is an interesting quirk of our Constitution, that 29 members of Parliament are appointed by the parties – not directly elected. The National List exists to enable professionals, academics and other generally qualified people to enter Parliament. The best rationale I’ve seen is here. The Nationa List, however, also allows losing candidates to be appointed in. How?
Well, the Constitution, 99A of the 14th Amendment (emphasis mine):
Every recognised political party or independent group contesting a General Election shall submit to the Commissioner of Elections within the nomination period specified for such election a list of persons qualified to be elected as Members of Parliament, from which it may nominate persons to fill the seats, if any, which such party or group will be entitled to, on such apportionment
Where a recognized political party or independent group is entitled to a seat under the apportionment referred to above, the Commissioner of Elections shall by a notice, require the Secretary of such recognized political party or group leader of such independent group to nominate within one week of such notice, persons qualified to be elected as Members of Parliament (being persons whose names are included in the list submitted to the Commissioner of Elections under this Article or in any nomination paper submitted in respect of any electoral district by such party or group at that election) to fill such seats and shall declare elected as Members of Parliament, the persons so nominated. (The Constitution)
The key concept here is that only people qualified to be elected to Parliament are eligible. That means people on the list the parties gave weeks ago AND people on the candidates list who happened to lose. Basically, if the Elections Commissioner had your name on record a month ago, you’re eligible.
This can of course lead to such abominations as Chandrika Bandaranaike appointing Mervyn Silva to the National List after he finished last in Colombo with 2,236 votes. He of course went on to tie government officials to trees, assault media and general corrupt and degrade everything around him; plus he unleashed his violent son upon the city. That’s a bad example. This election, however, Ranil could nominate Rosy Senanayake, who just lost out getting in on the ballot, which would probably be good.
Personally, I think the National List should include 50% women because the Constitution also says that the Commissioner of Election should request the Party Secretaries “to ensure as far as practicable, that the representation of all communities is commensurate with its national population ratio.” And women are direly under-represented.
But anyways. That’s the National List. For the most part it has been used well and you’ve gotten been like Lakshman Kadirgamar earlier, Harsha de Silva and Eran Wickremeratne last Parliament (they ran and won this time) and Karu Jayasuriya, Sunil Handunhetti and Sarath Amunugama this time. Used judiciously, it’s a good system.
It’s just important to remember that under our Constitution it’s perfectly legal and fine to appoint defeated candidates. People have been saying that this is somehow a cadge, but it’s there in plain English. It can lead to good or bad appointments depending on who the person is, but there are some good defeated candidates who may deserve a spot.
Hat tip to my father who pointed this out on Twitter. The Constitution is rather hard to read. Subjects are found miles away from their objects.
UPDATE: The UNP National List seems to include Malik Samarawickrema, Karu Jayasuriya, Swaminathan, Rathana Thera, Dr.Jayampathi, Thilak Marapana, Prof. Marasinghe, MKDS Gunawardena, M Navavi (ACMC), MHM Salman, Dr. Hafeez (SLMC), Anoma Gamage, and Sirinal de Mel – according to the Daily Mirror. No losing candidates here.
UPDATE UPDATE: The UPFA List is out – Sarath Amunugama, SB Dissanayake (lost), Dilan Perera, Thilanga Sumathipala (lost), Vijayamuni, Mahinda Samarasinghe (lost), Lakshman Yapa (lost), AHM Fowzie, Malith Jayatilake, Faizer Mustapa, Hisbullah, Angajan. So a lot of losing candidates here, not a lot of professionals or non-politicians.