Tomorrow, presidential elections will be held in Sri Lanka, but parliamentary elections are not yet scheduled. The date of the next parliamentary elections will depend on the outcome of the presidential elections.
The Parliament of Sri Lanka is the nation’s unicameral legislative body. General elections are usually held every six years in Sri Lanka. The Parliament of Sri Lanka has 225 members. The electoral system is based on proportional representation. 196 members are elected in 22 electoral districts, each district usually elects members of different parties. The 22 electoral districts are almost identical with Sri Lanka’s 25 administrational districts, except from the Northern Province, which is divided into 5 administrational districts but only 2 electoral district, due to population numbers. The smallest district, Trincomalee, is represented by 4 members of parliament, the most-populated, Colombo and Gampaha, have 19 and 18 seats respectively. Additionally, 29 members of parliament are elected on nationwide lists, based on the percentage of the national vote received by each party.
In the general elections held in 2010, the current president’s UPFA won 60.3 % of the votes and 144 seats in parliamant, but failed to reach a two-thirds majority (150 seats), only after additional members of parliament left the opposition parties and allied with the majority alliance, President Mahinda Rajapakse’s supporters were able to change the constitution with a two-thirds majority.
The UPFA is an alliance of more than a dozen parties, the most important of them is the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, which was founded by S.W.R.D. Bandaranayake and campaigns on a more leftist and Sinhalese nationalist agenda than the main oppononent, the UNP. Blue colour is a symbol of the SLFP, another symbol of this party is a hand.
The UNP, the party of independent Ceylon’s first Prime Minister, D.S. Senanayake, forms the core of the 3-party alliance UNF, which received 29.3 % of the votes in the 2010 elections and 60 seats in parliament. It is a more conservative and economically more liberal party. However, two of Sri Lanka’s most Sinhalese-nationalist presidents, Jayawardane and Premadasa, who reigned at the begin of the civil war, were also UNP members. The party’s colour is green and the symbol is an elephant.
The TNA is an aliiance of regional Tamil parties only contesting in the Tamil dominated Northern and Eastern Provinces. It is an an amalgamation of moderate Tamil parties promoting federalism as well as number of former rebel groups once fighting for Tamil independence but separated from the Tamil Tiger rebel army already before the end of the civil war. At least one of the TNA’s sitting members of parliament, Kiddinan Sivanesan, was killed by the Tamil Tigers. The TNA has participated in elections since 2001. In 2010, it won 2.9 % of the total vote and 14 seats in parliament.
The fourth and last party alliance that won seats in parliament is the Democratic National Alliance, which was founded by Serath Fonseca, the former army leader who contested against the ruling President Rajapakse in the 2010 presidential elections. In the parliamentary elections, the DNA won 5.5 % of the total vote and 7 seats. The DNA includes the JVP party, which began as a socialist revolutionary movement in the early 1970s and became an extremist and violent Sinhalese youth movement in the 1980s and finally was integrated into the parliamentary system in the 1990s. The JVP’s symbol is the red colour.
The UPFA reached above-avarage results in all districts of the North-Central Province and of the Southern Province an of Sabaragamuwa Province as well as in Kalutara District in the Western Province and Matale in the Central Province and (record-breaking 76%) in Monaragala District in Uva Province. All these districts, except from Puttalam District, are areas of a large Sinhalese Buddhist majority.
The UNF was comparatively strong (though not stronger than the UPFA) in Colombo District in the Western Province, Kandy and Nuwara Eliya Districts in the Central Province and Ampara District in the Easten Province, all these districts are areas with a high percentage of minorities.
The TNA won (between 37 % and 44 %) in most Tamil dominated areas, namely in both districts of the Northern Province and in Batticaloa District of the Eastern Province, but the TNA only came second in Trincomalee District in Eastern Province.
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