PR System Would Be Too Confusing, NLD Says

PR System Would Be Too Confusing, NLD Says

A man votes in the by-election in 2012. (Photo: JPaing / The Irrawaddy)

A man votes in the by-election in 2012. (Photo: JPaing / The Irrawaddy)

RANGOON — Burma’s biggest opposition party opposes a change to a proportional representation (PR) electoral system because it would confuse voters, a party member says.

Nyan Win, spokesman for the National League for Democracy (NLD), says that despite voter education efforts, most people in Burma did not understand the current electoral system, known as a first-past-the-post (FPTP) system, during the previous election. A change now would only complicate matters in the 2015 election, he said.

“The public will not be pleased if they cannot give their vote to the candidate of their choice because they do not understand the new system,” he told The Irrawaddy on Thursday. “We don’t accept it.”

Last month, a majority of lawmakers in the Upper House of Parliament voted to switch from the FPTP system, which benefits dominant parties, to a PR system, which tends to benefit smaller parties. Lawmakers from the military, the NLD and ethnic minority parties voted against the change.

Under a PR system, the number of seats won by each party is proportionate to the number of votes received. Under the FPTP system, the winning lawmaker in each constituency takes a seat in Parliament.

The Lower House has not yet voted on whether to switch to the PR system. Last week, Lower House Speaker Shwe Mann from the USDP said at a press conference that he believed the PR system should be adopted if it would benefit the country.

The NLD and its alliance ethnic parties—including the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy, the Arakan League for Democracy, the Mon National Party, the Zomi Congress for Democracy, the Shan StateKokant Democratic Partyand theNational Democracy party—released a statement on July 5 calling on lawmakers not to change the electoral system.

“The PR system will not benefit Burma’s transition and its ethnic people, but will benefit only some parties,” they said.

Ethnic parties worry they will not fare well under a PR system. Under the current system, ethnic parties can count on winning seats in constituencies of ethnic minority states.

“[Voters] from townships in the states want a representative who will represent them,” said Sai Nyunt Lwin, a spokesman for the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy, adding that with a change to the PR system, “voters will no longer know who they can rely on.”

The Nationalities Brotherhood Federation (NBF), an alliance of 20 ethnic parties, has also opposed a change to PR. The alliance was planning to protest against PR but decided to hold off on demonstrations after party members met recently with Shwe Mann, who they say promised that any PR system adopted would be tailored to be fair for ethnic parties.


4 Responses to PR System Would Be Too Confusing, NLD Says

  1. PR system is only fit for small country like city state Singapore not fit for Burma ( Myanmar ) which has many ethnic groups and big population over 60 million. More electoral education need for peoples
    through out Burma ( Myanmar ).

    Power monger party wants to change the system is for their benefits. They are mind is dirty ” Ba-thu thay thay Nga tay maryin bi yaw ” is inside of their mind.

  2. the more voters confuse…the better chance for SPDC

  3. What a load of rubbish. One of the most important tasks ahead assigned is to ensure that people enjoy the right to participate in all state organs based on the principle of inclusive proportional representation.

  4. I wish we had proportional representation in Canada. Currently a radical right wing party got a majority of seats so 100% of the power but with only 38% of our votes! Non proportional governments are totally unfair and dangerous, especially the fake-majorities! The two huge political parties that share power because of Canada’s undemocratic electoral system of course say that PR is “too confusing”. It’s actually dead simple. A party should get exactly the proportion of seats in the assembly it earned by votes in the election – not one seat more nor one seat less.

    Oo Maung Gyi is wrong. You can also have regional representation in big countries with MMP (mixed member proportional) as is used in Germany and New Zealand, where half of the seats are elected directly by each region, and the other half are elected from party lists to correct the proportion of parties to match how the nation actually voted. That would be the ideal system for Canada, and Canada is huge.

    Anyone who has a problem with PR has a problem with democracy. Inasmuch as democracy is crippled like it is in nonporportional misrepresentation, corruption and money will gladly fill the power vacuum.

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