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Explained: What the massive election victory for Rajapaksa means for Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka Election Results 2020: The parliament election results has once again proven that Mahinda Rajapaksa is the most popular majority Sinhala Buddhist leader of independent Sri Lanka.

Written by Arun Janardhanan , Edited by Explained Desk | Chennai | Updated: August 9, 2020 10:33:48 am
Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka elections, Sri Lanka election results, Mahinda Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna, Indian Express Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa greets supporters following his election victory in the general election at his residence in Tangalle, Sri Lanka, Friday, Aug. 7, 2020. (AP Photo: Eranga Jayawardena)

The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) has recorded a massive victory with 145 seats, just five seats short of a two-thirds majority, in the parliamentary elections held this week.

Results released late on Thursday was expected to favour the SLPP leadership led by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. However, top leaders were surprised by the 145 seats as they were not expending more than 135. This victory has come nine months after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was elected to power, with about 52 per cent majority.

Sri Lanka election results: What does it mean ‘politically’?

The parliament election results has once again proven that Mahinda Rajapaksa is the most popular majority Sinhala Buddhist leader of independent Sri Lanka. And it has also made Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the war-time defence secretary and the younger brother of Mahinda, the most powerful president of the country.

Kusal Perera, a veteran political analyst, writer and a strong critic of governments, said: “Yes, Sri Lanka has been gradually turning into a majoritarian country… That is what is guaranteed in these two elections — November’s Presidential victory and this Parliamentary results.”

Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka elections, Sri Lanka election results, Mahinda Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna, Indian Express Former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, left, and former Defense Secretary and his brother Gotabaya Rajapaksa wave to supporters during a party convention held to announce the presidential candidacy in Colombo, Sri Lanka. (AP Photo: Eranga Jayawardena)

A top leader close to the ruling dispensation said poll results means nothing but the fact that Sri Lankan people wanted a strong Sinhala Buddhist leader. “MR (Mahinda) is the most popular, Gota (Gotabaya) is the most powerful (now). They are not racists. Gota knows that development-focused policies alone will save our country, not a racist-ethnic politics. He was working towards that, to improve the economy, he will continue to do that,” the leader said.

What is the position of Sri Lanka’s opposition now?

The Rajapaksa camp always wanted to do better than what they claim. When President Gotabaya remarked that they have done more than they expected, a party that suffered maximum set back was the United National Party (UNP), the main opposition led by the former PM Ranil Wickremesinghe.

When UNP has got only one seat, another party Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) led by Sajith Premadasa, who broke away from the UNP and was defeated by Gotabaya in the presidential polls, has got 54 seats and emerged the second largest.

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA), which used to enjoy a huge mandate in the Tamil minority areas, also faced a setback and ended up with just 10 seats.

Where SLPP won with about 59% votes, Premadasa’s SJB seems to have fought a battle alone with SLPP for 23% votes against any veteran parties such as UNP or TNA at the opposition.

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Where was Sirisena in this election?

Maithripala Sirisena, the rebel of 2015 who defeated Mahinda Rajapaksa to become the president, was an SLPP candidate this time, wining with a massive margin from his native town Polonnaruwa.

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