Sri Lanka's Tangled Democracy

Primed for Progress in Colombo?

An air force officer holds Sri Lanka's national flag as the sun sets at Galle Face Green in Colombo, February 2, 2013. Dinuka Liyanawatte / Reuters

Sri Lanka’s parliamentary election is over, and the results are in. By capturing 45.7 percent of the votes and 106 seats in a vote held on August 17, the United National Party (UNP) has narrowly won.

This is something of a defeat for Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was Sri Lanka’s president until he was voted out in January 2015; he had hoped to make a political comeback and win the prime ministership. Rajapaksa and sitting President Maithripala Sirisena are both members of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), the dominant political party in the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA), a coalition that ruled the country for the past decade. Although Sirisena now officially heads both the SLFP and the UPFA, it was Rajapaksa who led the UPFA’s parliamentary election campaign. The UPFA might have pulled in a smaller share of the vote than the UNP (42.4 percent), but all is not lost

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