Sunday, May 3, 2009

Editorial TO PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION of 15-31 March 2009 Martyra Memorial Special issue of Law Animated World

To Proportional Representation
we must switch over if we really want to curb, totally eliminate may be too tall a wish, money-power and criminalization of politics perverting our democratic system. The much vaunted Constitution we have is largely copied from the infamous Government of India Act 1935, which in itself distortedly reflected the plurality voting system of Great Britain. It is the colonial legacy which resulted in our adhesion to this not-so-happy electoral system, where the legitimate claims of various sections of the people are blissfully neglected. A party securing even 30-35% of the popular vote can win all or most of the posts and an opposition with around 25% votes may not secure even 10-20% of the seats, and less favoured ones with 10-20% or less, but with considerable support from weaker sections or minorities, may draw a mere cipher. This cannot be called really representative democracy and defeats the very ideals of justice - social, political and economic, and of democratic governance, adumbrated in our Constitution. For example, the Madiga Reservation Porata Samiti (MRPS), which has now decided to contest independently in the state of Andhra Pradesh, may bag around 10% of vote in the coming elections but get no seats, whereas the communist parties which together may not get more than 5-6% of popular vote may secure 8-10 Assembly plus 2-4 Lok Sabha seats thanks to their alliance and the present first-past-the-post system. This surely cannot be called just or equitable. There is something like ethical equality which may be more precious than mere political equality. Even in the U.K., Northern Ireland and Wales Legislatures have opted for proportional systems; and Ireland and Scotland are already in that category. Only some 45-50 out of the 200 odd countries of the world adopt this plurality system whereas many of the most developed democracies in Europe as well as South Africa and New Zealand follow the proportional system. Whether it should be by the party-list method or Single Trnasferable Vote, etc. can be worked out, but we feel it is high time that people here think, discuss and overcome the current inherited inertia and bring a salutary change in the electoral system of the country. To begin with we may opt for partial proportionality and experiment it in a few states before making it countrywide. This change would certainly be the harbinger of a genuine socio-economic change for the betterment of the common man and achievement of social justice §§§

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