Home » President- Poll 2015

DATE HELD ON- 8TH JANAUARY 2015

Summary

Presidential elections were held in Sri Lanka on 8 January 2015, two years ahead of schedule. The incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa was the United People’s Freedom Alliance’s candidate, seeking a third term in office. The United National Party (UNP)-led opposition coalition chose to field Maithripala Sirisena, the former Minister of Health in Rajapaksa’s government and general secretary of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) – the main constituent party of the UPFA – as its common candidate.

Sirisena was declared the winner after receiving 51.28% of all votes cast compared to Rajapaksa’s 47.58%. The result was generally seen as a shock. When Rajapaksa called the election in November 2014 he had looked certain to win. On 11 January 2015 the new government announced a special investigation into allegations of an attempted coup by Rajapaksa.

Table of contents

Timeline

2014

20 October: Minister of Mass Media and Information Keheliya Rambukwella confirmed that the election would be held in January 2015

5 November: Rajapaksa sought the Supreme Court’s opinion on whether he could stand for re-election.

20 November: Rajapaksa issued a proclamation calling for a presidential election at which he would seek re-election.

21 November: Sri Lanka Freedom Party general secretary Maithripala Sirisena defects to the opposition and announces he would run against Mahinda Rajapaksa in the coming election. Election commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya announces that nominations would be taken on 8 December 2014 and that the election would be held on 8 January 2015.

8 December: Nominations period opens by the Elections Department on 8 December 2014, all of which were accepted.

23–24 December: Postal voting held begins for two days.

2015

8 January: Election day. Polling stations opened at 07:00 (01:30 UTC) and closed at 16:00 (10:30 UTC).

9 January: Rajapaksa concedes defeat ahead of the final result.

9 January: Around 8:06 (2:36 UTC) Election commissioner confirmed Maithripala Sirisena as the new elected President.

9 January: Maithripala Sirsena is sworn in as Sri Lanka’s sixth executive president, and seventh overall, before Supreme Court judge K. Sripavan in Independence Square, Colombo at 18:20 (12:50 UTC).

Candidates

Nineteen nominations were received from by the Elections Department on 8 December 2014, all of which were accepted. Seventeen candidates were from registered political parties and two were independents.

Mahinda Rajapaksa

 

  • The incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa will contest as the UPFA candidate, seeking an unprecedented third term. He has also received the backing of a number of small constituent parties of the UPFA including the Ceylon Workers’ Congress, Communist Party, Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP), National Freedom Front, National Union of Workers and the Up-Country People’s Front.
  • On nomination day, 8 December 2014, two opposition MPs, Tissa Attanayake and Jayantha Ketagoda, defected to the government to support Rajapaksa. Attanayake was later appointed Minister of Health — the post previously held by Sirisena.
  • Rajapaksa has received the support of the Buddhist extremist Bodu Bala Sena.
  • The Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) withdrew from UPFA government on 18 November 2014 citing Rajapaksa’s refusal to reform the executive presidency and enact reforms to promote accountability.
  • After much hesitation the All Ceylon Muslim Congress and Sri Lanka Muslim Congress withdrew from the UPFA government, on 22 and 28 December 2014 respectively, blaming the government’s failure to protect Sri Lankan Muslims from Sinhalese Buddhist extremists.
  • Rajapaksa released his manifesto, titled Mahinda’s Vision — The World Winning Path, on 23 December 2014 at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall. The manifesto pledges to introduce a new constitution within one year of being elected but the executive presidency won’t be abolished — it will be amended and the “weakness” in the parliamentary system eliminated.
  • A naval force and a special security force will be set up, with the help of the army, to tackle drug trafficking and other organised crime.
  • The manifesto also pledges to establish a transparent, judicial inquiry into the alleged war crimes during the final stages of the Sri Lankan Civil War but Rajapaksa has refused to co-operate with UN investigation.

Maithripala Sirisena

  • On 21 November 2014, after the election had been called, Maithripala Sirisena, was revealed as the common opposition candidate by the UNP.
  • Sirisena had been Minister of Health in Rajapaksa’s government and general secretary of the SLFP before defecting to the opposition coalition.
  • Sirisena immediately received the support of former president Chandrika Kumaratunga and several UPFA MPs that had defected alongside him (Duminda Dissanayake, M. K. D. S. Gunawardena, Wasantha Senanayake, Rajitha Senaratne, Rajiva Wijesinha).
  • Sirisena and the other UPFA MPs were stripped of their ministerial positions and expelled from the SLFP.
  • On 30 November Minister Navin Dissanayake resigned from the UPFA government and defected to the opposition to support Sirisena.
  • Two deputy ministers, Palani Digambaran and Velusami Radhakrishnan, resigned from the UPFA government on 10 December 2014 to support Sirisena. Two other deputy ministers, Faiszer Musthapha and Nandimithra Ekanayake, resigned from the UPFA government, on 31 December 2014 and 1 January 2015 respectively, to support Sirisena. Sirisena received the support of UPFA MP Achala Jagodage on 2 January 2015.
  • Sirisena has pledged to abolish the executive presidency within 100 days of being elected, repeal the controversial eighteenth amendment, re-instate the seventeenth amendment and appoint UNP leader Ranil Wickremasinghe as Prime Minister.
  • On 1 December 2014 Sirisena signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with 36 opposition parties/civic groups promising to abolish the executive presidency, hold parliamentary elections, form an all-party national government and carry out various political reforms.
  • Signatories to the MOU include the UNP, Sarath Fonseka’s Democratic Party, Democratic People’s Front, Azath Salley’s Muslim Tamil National Alliance, Free Media Movement, Federation of University Teachers Association as well as dissident groups of the LSSP and Communist Party.
  • The following day the JHU announced that it was supporting Sirisena in the presidential election. On 30 December 2014 the Tamil National Alliance, the largest political party representing the Sri Lankan Tamil people, endorsed Sirisena.
  • Sirisena contested as the New Democratic Front (NDF) candidate under its swan symbol. Common opposition candidate Sarath Fonseka contested the 2010 presidential election as a NDF candidate under its swan symbol.
  • Sirisena released his manifesto, titled A Compassionate Maithri Governance — A Stable Country, on 19 December 2014 at a rally at Viharamahadevi Park. The main pledge in the manifesto is the replacement of the executive presidency with a Westminster style cabinet but the manifesto acknowledges that Sirisena would need the support of the parliament to amend the constitution.
  • Independent commissions will be established to oversee the judiciary, police, elections department, Auditor-General’s Department and Attorney-General’s Department.
  • The Commission on Bribery and Corruption will be strengthened and political diplomatic appointments annulled. Populist measures in the manifesto include a commitment to write-off 50% of farmers’ loans, reduce fuel prices by removing taxes and a salary increase of Rs.10, 000 for public servants.
  • Public spending on health would increase from 1.8% of GDP to 3% of GDP whilst that on education would increase from 1.7% of GDP to 6% of GDP. The manifesto also states that the casino licences granted to Kerry Packer’s Crown Resort and John Keells Holdings’s Water Front will be cancelled. Political victims during Rajapaks’s rule, including Sarath Fonseka and Shirani Bandaranayake, would be re-appointed.
  • In a separate document Sirisena has pledged that, whilst resisting any international investigation, he would establish an independent domestic inquiry into the alleged war crimes during the final stages of the Sri Lankan Civil War.

Minor candidates

The remaining seventeen candidates are from minor political parties or independents.

  • Wimal Geeganage, Sri Lanka National Front (Rajapaksa dummy candidate)
  • Aithurus M. Illias, Independent
  • Siritunga Jayasuriya, United Socialist Party
  • Jayantha Kulathunga, United Lanka Great Council (Rajapaksa dummy candidate).
  • S. P. Liyanage, Sri Lanka Labour Party(Rajapaksa dummy candidate)
  • Sundaram Mahendran, Nava Sama Samaja Party(Sirisena dummy candidate)
  • Sarath Manamendra, New Sinhala Heritage(announced on 30 December 2014 that he would support Rajapaksa)
  • Maulawi Ibrahim Mohanmed Mishlar, United Peace Front
  • Duminda Nagamuwa, Frontline Socialist Party
  • Ruwanthileke Peduru, United Lanka People’s Party
  • Anurudha Polgampola, Independent
  • Prasanna Priyankara, Democratic National Movement
  • Namal Ajith Rajapaksa, Our National Front
  • Battaramulle Seelarathana, Jana Setha Peramuna
  • Ratnayake Arachchige Sirisena, Patriotic National Front
  • Muthu Bandara Theminimulla, All Are Citizens, All Are Kings Organisation
  • Pani Wijesiriwardene, Socialist Equality Party

Some of the minor candidates are “dummy candidates” who have been fielded by the two main candidates so that they may obtain maximum benefits of being a candidate, such as free slots on state television, two agents at every polling booth and assigning counting agents.

Conduct

  • This election, like past Sri Lankan elections, has been characterized by violence, misuse of state resources and other violations of election laws. Local election monitoring groups described the violations as shameless and condemned the police for their inaction.
  • The government accused some local election monitoring groups of being biased in favor of the opposition candidate and of being funded by foreign countries. The International Crisis Group warned that the tighter the election, the more violent it would be and should Rajapaksa lose he may use the military or the “politically-compliant” Supreme Court to retain power.
  • Rajapaksa stated that, although he expected not to lose, he would handover power peacefully should he do so. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on the Sri Lankan government to ensure “the peaceful and credible conduct” of the election.
  • Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma called for “transparency, a level playing field, and adherence to the laws and norms that govern a credible and peaceful election”. The European Union’s heads of mission in Colombo issued a joint statement on 2 January 2015 calling for a “peaceful, credible and transparent” election.
  • By 31 December 2014 the Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) had recorded 1,007 incidents of election law violations of which 105 related to violence, including 19 incidents involving firearms. CaFFE has accused the police of allowing government supporters to attack the opposition.
  • The People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) recorded 730 cases of violations by 3 January 2015 including 197 incidents of violence. The Center for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) had recorded 420 incidents between 20 November 2014 and 5 January 2015.The police had received 214 complaints up to 2 January 2015 and arrested 92 people who were all subsequently released on bail.
  • According to analysts and opposition parties Rajapaksa was using the Sri Lankan military to depress opposition turnout, particularly amongst the Tamils in the north and east of the country. On 4 January 2015 international election monitors reported that they had received complaints of voter intimidation and that the army had set up 400 roadblocks to prevent Tamils from voting.
  • After voting had finished election commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya declared the poll to be “peaceful” and the election to be “free and fair”.[180] However, according to CMEV some voters in the north were prevented from voting.

Election monitors

104 election monitors from the South Asian Election Monitoring Forum, South Asian Election Monitoring Association, Asian Election Monitoring Network and the Commonwealth arrived in Sri Lanka on 27 December 2014. Monitors from the European Election Monitoring Association are also expected to be called upon. The Election Commissioner offered six election monitoring groups the opportunity to monitor the count at only 300 of the 1,200 counting centers.

After polling Commonwealth observers said the election was not fully democratic because of the inadequate electoral and legal framework and the unequal pre-electoral environment.

Results

National Table


Srilanka_presedential_election_2015_summary

District Table

Srilanka_presedential_election_2015_district2

Maps

 

 

 

References

Sri Lankan presidential election, 2015, en.wikipedia.org.

 

 

 

 

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