ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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After the Lankan Elections

Sri Lankan politics has a way to go before the democratic gains of the 2015 elections are consolidated.

For the second time in seven months, the majority of Sri Lankan voters have reaffirmed their commitment to continue with the regime change that began in January this year. The United National Front for Good Governance (UNFGG), a coalition led by the erstwhile United National Party (UNP), has also successfully dashed the hopes that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa had of coming back to power, this time as the Prime Minister. The constituency of voters that backed the UNFGG consists of Sri Lankans of all ethnic and cultural communities, in contrast to the predominantly Sinhalese–Buddhist vote which Rajapaksa and his United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) polled. Thus, Sri Lanka’s multi-ethnic, multicultural and pluralist democracy has prevailed over the prospect of a continuation of ethnic majoritarian democracy.

Notwithstanding this good news, Sri Lanka’s politics is far from being settled and stabilised. Although the UNFGG emerged with the highest number of parliamentary seats, with 106 Members of Parliament (MP), it still lacks a majority in the 225-seat parliament. The UPFA has 95 MPs. The North-East-based Ilankai Tamil Arasu Katchi, formerly known as the Tamil National Alliance, has obtained 16 seats. President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe have advanced the concept of a “national government”—a broad coalition of all parties, yet anchored on a bipartisan alliance between the UNFGG and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), which is the mainstay of the UPFA—to avoid such an eventuality.

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