Editorial; Forgotten Pivot in Downsized Seats

Article excerpt

The bombshell disclosure of unfit politicians by the People's Civic Alliance 2000 has given rise to revolutionary changes in the nation's political vortex. The demonstration of people's power has formed a watershed for holding our politicians accountable for any wrongdoing. Any involvement in corruption, frequent changes of party affiliations, abuses of human rights or violations of election laws were some of the reasons that would include them on the list of unfit persons to run for parliamentary elections.

This unprecedented development of people's politics and the powerful civic drive for political reform have made a critical contribution to ending the year-long partisan wrangling and manipulation over the rezoning of the boundaries of electoral constituencies. Certainly, politicians knew that undue maneuvering in the likes of gerrymandering or pork-barrel legislation would cause them to be included on the black list.

As a consequence, the parties agreed to set this day as the deadline for the passage of the bill to revise the election laws. Whether or not the protracted, partisan tug of war over the law's revision will at last come to an end remains uncertain. Apparently, some issues still remain to be resolved despite the great progress made over the mapping of electoral districts. The upcoming polls will be held on April 13. This hardly leaves enough time for the country to prepare for the general election.

The lion's share of the remaining disagreements has to do with the issue of double candidacy -- the concept of representing both a specific district and at the same time, a national seat as a result of proportional representation. Added to that are the controversies over the introduction of a plural voting system that allows each voter to cast a ballot for both a candidate and a party. The Grand National Party (GNP) has some serious reservations about the six redrawn constituencies. The GNP's nominal excuse is that the rezoned districts are in violation of the Constitutional Court's ruling on the mapping of electoral districts. Parties are also seriously divided over the question of whether to repeal the legal stipulations that outlaw election campaigns of citizens' organizations as well as pre-election campaigns. Lamentably, however, the root cause for the parties' disagreements still has to do with their differing partisan calculations in utter disregard of the political imperative for radical reform. …