Small Parties in the Electoral Process
The general expectation that the JVP was doing well, and that it would get between 10 to 20 seatsin 2015 parliamentary election has not become a reality. True that the present JVP had to face number of defections during last seven years with Wimal Werawansa forming NFF(national Freedom Front) and Kumar Gunarathnam forming the Frontline Socialist Party. General Sarath Fonseka’s Democratic Party faced a bitter experience as it was unable to get at least one national list seat out of the total votes it received. On the other side major regional party ITAK was the most successful in the Northern Province and in Batticaloa district. EPDP was able to get one seat from Jaffna while SLMC got a seat in Batticaloa.
Some of the small parties were relatively successful as they were able to canvass for preferences within their respective alliances. For example if NFF and JHU contested independently the chances to get a seat in parliament would be a remote possibility. Out of the wining UPFA group in Colombo only Susil Premajayantha is the serious SLFPer. Wmal, Udaya and Dinesh represented small parties. In the same way Champika Ranawake and Mano Ganeshan succeeded in the Colombo UNF list. If JHU of Champika contested of its own, it would have faced a daunting task in securing a seat.
However our political culture and system has given an opportunity to exceptional political characters to involve in the electoral process through major parties. In contesting under major parties they draw many preferences but if they contest alone through their own parties they face with a great difficulty to find necessary votes to win a seat from a district. In the 2004 general election JVP was able to get near forty seats through UPFA topping almost all the district lists. This time it contested alone and secured only 4.86 % of votes nationally.
With the introduction of district PR system, the Sri Lankan political party system has evolved from a two party system to a two party alliance system. Even the ITAK is an alliance. Two small parties the JVP and ITAK gathered 4.86 and 4.62 percentages of votes from the last election national wide and both parties got 2 seats each from the national lists but JVP was unable to win a district and on the other hand ITAK winning in Jaffna, Vanni and Batticaloa entitled themselves to three bonus seats and finally ended up with 16 seats. Bonus seats are allocated only to parties those have won each district.
If first past the post electoral system applied for 2015 general election only winning parties are UPFA, UNF and ITAK.
UPFA is the leading party with 74 seats, UNF coming second with 68 seats and ITAK with 18 seats. The JVP would not have secured a seat accordingly.
For small parties the PR system is the best but if national proportion is applied the distortions created by the district PR system can be avoided. Yet one has to assert the need of a stable government.
Below is the breakdown of seats according to the pure national proportion under 2015 parliamentary election results.
Accordingly small parties would have got some parliamentary seats even though they polled considerably low votes.