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SLPP allies in North and East add five more seats to give the government a two-thirds majority

The two-thirds gives President Gotabaya Rajapaksa the opportunity to restore power to the executive presidency. File photo of the president campaigning in Polonnaruwa in July

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s ruling party gained an unprecedented two-thirds majority in Parliament under proportional representation giving President Gotabaya Rajapaksa the power to enact sweeping changes to the country’s constitution.

The governing Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna won 145 seats in the 225-member unicameral parliament and smaller allies in the minority-dominated Northern and Eastern province collectively won 5 seats taking the alliance up to the 150 mark, the National Elections Commission announced.

Last night a party spokesman Wijepala Chandrapala told EconomyNext said the allies will help the party to get to the 150 mark.

“We know that they will win at least 5 to 6 seats and that will be sufficient,” he said.

The Eelam People’s Democratic Party of Douglas Devananda won 2 seats, the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal of Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillayan won 1 seat, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party 1 seat and the National Congress of A L M Athaullah 1 seat giving the government the 150 seats it wanted.

Sri Lanka’s Proportional Preferential system of elections now goes into the second phase where the preferential votes for individual members are counted to see which individuals will get seats in Parliament.

President Rajapaksa had asked voters to give him a two-thirds majority to roll back reforms that created independent commissions that took away a substantial amount of the powers from the executive so that he could implement his proposed economic program.

Ever since proportional representation was introduced in 1978 no party or alliance has won more than a working majority in the parliament.

Rajapaksa’s elder brother put together a coalition in 2010 which gave him a two-thirds majority and he changed the constitution that removed term limits on the presidency.

In 2016 the term limit was re-imposed with the 19th Amendment to the constitution that created the independent commissions.

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However, the conflicts that arose between the presidency and parliament with President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe unable to agree on key policy issues reduced the efficacy of the last government.

This helped the SLPP argue that power has to be restored to the presidency so that governance can be effective. (Colombo, August 7, 2020)

Reported by Arjuna Ranawana