M C Raj, the founder of the campaign for electoral reforms in India (CERI) and his wife Jyoti, have worked with colleagues to promote the PR electoral system in India for several years.
He points out, in TOI, that in the present first-past-the-post system, “The problem is that parties with less than 30% of votes win more seats and claim the right to form governments. This leaves out a vast majority of voters unrepresented in governance”.
In the proportional representation system, ‘majority’ means more than 50% of votes; and the other votes are not wasted, but given to other candidates in order to provide representation to all voters in state assemblies or in Parliament, he explained.
M C Raj (right) said that the present system encourages corruption, use of muscle power, communalism, etc, in order to gain a slight margin of winning votes.
“The parties that come to power are not mandated by the citizens. Only parties that have the power to manipulate voters are able to come to power, and dalits, adivasis, minorities and women get excluded”. Raj said that CERI has been working for years to create awareness among academicians, intelligentsia and political leaders. He has held detailed discussions with external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and former Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde. He has also been lobbying with MPs, in and out of Parliament. After a workshop in Berlin on electoral systems, which was attended by experts in 2011, CERI has published a policy document on the subject and is now preparing a draft bill on the PR electoral system. Raj said that DMK, Akali Dal, many regional parties and all the communist parties in India are supporting this system.
The PR system is already being followed in countries like Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, South Africa and others. We end with a passage from CERI’s website: “89 democracies have already taken up PR system in order to make their democracies more inclusive and not to waste votes in elections. Only 60 democracies in the world, most of them former colonies of the British still stick to the first-past-the-post electoral system.
CERI believes that India is in dire need of reforming its electoral system and many on the CHSUK mailing list would agree that Britain also is in dire need of a good PR system.